1976 Atlantic hurricane season

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1976 Atlantic hurricane season
Season summary map
First system formed May 21, 1976
Last system dissipated October 28, 1976
Strongest storm Belle – 957 mbar (hPa) (28.27 inHg), 120 mph (195 km/h) (1-minute sustained)
Total depressions 23
Total storms 10
Hurricanes 6
Major hurricanes (Cat. 3+) 2
Total fatalities 72
Total damage $100 million (1976 USD)
Atlantic hurricane seasons
1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978

The 1976 Atlantic hurricane season was an average Atlantic hurricane season, officially starting on June 1, 1976 and ending on November 30, dates which conventionally limit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones develop in the Atlantic Ocean. The season produced 23 tropical cyclones, of which ten developed into named storms; six became hurricanes, and two attained major hurricane status. The strongest hurricane of the season was Hurricane Belle, which reached Category 3 status on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale east of North Carolina; Belle later struck Long Island, New York as a Category 1 hurricane, causing $100 million in damage (1976 USD) and a total of five deaths across the New England region of the United States.

The season began with Subtropical Storm One on May 21, prior to the official start of the season; the bounds of the season are from June 1 to November 30, which conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. Tropical Storm Dottie caused flooding rains in Florida that caused a total of four deaths. In early September, Hurricane Emmy caused 68 indirect deaths when a Venezuelan Air Force plane carrying a school choir crashed on a landing attempt at Lajes Air Base in the Azores during the storm.

Season summary[edit]

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

Compared the previous ten year average of storms per season, the 1976 season was considered an average one. However, the lack of activity in both the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico was considered a rare event that had only occurred one other time in 1962 since 1900. Only two storms, Hurricane Belle and Tropical Storm Dottie, made landfall, both of which did so on the United States.[1]

The season's activity was reflected with a cumulative accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) rating of 84.[2] ACE is, broadly speaking, a measure of the power of the hurricane multiplied by the length of time it existed, so storms that last a long time, as well as particularly strong hurricanes, have high ACEs. ACE is only calculated for full advisories on tropical systems at or exceeding 34 knots (39 mph, 63 km/h) or tropical storm strength. Although officially, subtropical storms are not included,[3] the subtropical stage of Anna is not omitted from the total ACE value above.


Subtropical Storm One[edit]

Subtropical storm (SSHWS)
Duration May 21 – May 25
Peak intensity 50 mph (85 km/h) (1-min)  994 mbar (hPa)

On May 19 an upper-level trough produced widespread thunderstorms over the Gulf of Mexico. Slowly, the system organized, first to a subtropical depression on May 21, then to a subtropical storm on May 23. The storm began to move faster, and on May 23, it hit the Florida Panhandle. After moving across Georgia at a forward motion of 25 mph (40 km/h) the storm reached its peak of maximum sustained winds reaching 50 mph (85 km/h) while southeast of the Carolinas on May 24. It merged with a frontal system on May 25. Heavy rainfall was associated with the system, but little damage occurred.

Tropical Storm Anna[edit]

Tropical storm (SSHWS)
Duration July 28 – August 1
Peak intensity 45 mph (75 km/h) (1-min)  999 mbar (hPa)

The system that became Tropical Storm Anna formed in the central Atlantic, several hundred miles southeast of Bermuda. It began as a subtropical depression on July 28, and strengthened to Subtropical Storm Two on July 30. That afternoon it rapidly acquired tropical characteristics, and was named Anna. Anna reached its peak of 45 mph (75 km/h) winds that day, but became disorganized and turned into an extratropical system on August 1. Steering currents were weak, so the system made a slow counterclockwise loop around the Azores before finally dissipating on August 6.

Hurricane Belle[edit]

Category 3 hurricane (SSHWS)
Duration August 6 – August 10
Peak intensity 120 mph (195 km/h) (1-min)  957 mbar (hPa)
Main article: Hurricane Belle

Hurricane Belle was a major hurricane that threatened much of the East Coast of the United States. It made landfall in Long Island, New York as a tropical storm, causing $100 million in damage (1976 USD) and five casualties.

Hurricane Candice[edit]

Category 1 hurricane (SSHWS)
Duration August 18 – August 24
Peak intensity 90 mph (150 km/h) (1-min)  964 mbar (hPa)

On August 11, a cold-core low was located south of Bermuda. Over the next week, the system warmed and moved toward the surface. On August 18, it became a tropical depression, and later that day, it was named Tropical Storm Candice. Moving to the northeast, it remained weak until August 21, when it rapidly became a hurricane, located at 41ºN, 400 miles (640 km) east of Cape Cod. When Candice became a hurricane, it was one of only seven hurricanes to reach hurricane strength north of 40ºN. Soon after, Candice rapidly moved to the northeast, and it lost its identity to a cold front on August 24.

Tropical Storm Dottie[edit]

Main article: Tropical Storm Dottie
Tropical storm (SSHWS)
Duration August 18 – August 21
Peak intensity 50 mph (85 km/h) (1-min)  996 mbar (hPa)

A strong upper level trough led to the formation of a low pressure area in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, on August 17. This low became a tropical depression on August 18. After drifting to the east-southeast, a pressure of a 1,004 mbar (29.6 inHg) occurred on August 19. The storm rapidly moved to the northeast, reaching tropical storm strength on the way. After passing over Florida, Dottie moved to the north, reaching a peak of 50 mph (85 km/h) winds. Conditions appeared favorable, and a hurricane watch was issued. However, upper-level winds ripped the storm apart on August 20, and it was barely a tropical storm at its South Carolina landfall on August 21. It weakened to a tropical depression, and advisories were stopped, later on August 21. A tide in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina reached 3.5 feet (1.1 m) above normal. The remnant low of the system followed its track, moving southwestward into Florida, bringing more rain to the area. A total of 10.68 in (271.3 mm) of rain fell at Fort Lauderdale.[4] Dottie lost its identity after re-entering the Gulf of Mexico on August 25. Damage was minor, but four deaths occurred due to a fishing boat sinking over the Bahamas.[5][6][7]

Hurricane Emmy[edit]

Category 2 hurricane (SSHWS)
Duration August 20 – September 4
Peak intensity 105 mph (165 km/h) (1-min)  974 mbar (hPa)
Main article: Hurricane Emmy

The tropical depression that became Hurricane Emmy developed on August 20 from a tropical wave, located about 1,000 mi (1,600 km) east of the Lesser Antilles. As it moved west-northwestward, the area strengthened to a tropical storm on August 22. On August 24, it recurved to the northeastward, and strengthened to a hurricane on August 25. Its eastward movement so early in the year is almost unprecedented, as it occurred from the rapid development of a low pressure system to its northeast. Emmy moved recurved back northwest on August 26, but again moved eastward on August 29, when it reached its peak of 105 mph (165 km/h). It gradually weakened, and on September 4, a weakened extratropical Emmy was absorbed by the larger circulation of Hurricane Frances while located over the Azores.

Hurricane Emmy caused 68 indirect deaths when a Venezuelan Air Force plane carrying a school choir crashed on a landing attempt at Lajes Air Base in the Azores during the storm. This makes Hurricane Emmy the fifth documented storm to have downed an airplane (the others were Hurricane Janet, Typhoon Emma, Hurricane Betsy and Hurricane Esther)[citation needed].

Hurricane Frances[edit]

Category 3 hurricane (SSHWS)
Duration August 27 – September 4
Peak intensity 115 mph (185 km/h) (1-min)  963 mbar (hPa)

Like Emmy, the tropical depression that became Hurricane Frances formed from a tropical wave on August 27, while midway between the Lesser Antilles and the coast of Africa. The next day, it became a tropical storm, and on August 30, Frances became a hurricane. As it recurved to the north and east, Frances reached its peak of 115 mph (185 km/h) on September 1. Steady weakening occurred afterwards, and Frances became extratropical on September 4.

Subtropical Storm Three[edit]

Subtropical storm (SSHWS)
Duration September 13 – September 17
Peak intensity 45 mph (75 km/h) (1-min)  1011 mbar (hPa)

On September 12, the interaction between mid-tropospheric low and a diffuse stationary front led to the formation of a low pressure system over central Florida. As it moved north-northeastward, it developed a circulation and became a subtropical depression on September 13. The next day it became a subtropical storm, and reached its peak of 45 mph (75 km/h) over the western tropical Atlantic, off the coast of Georgia. The storm quickly made landfall near Charleston, South Carolina, and dissipated over southern Virginia on September 17.

Hurricane Gloria[edit]

Category 2 hurricane (SSHWS)
Duration September 26 – October 4
Peak intensity 105 mph (165 km/h) (1-min)  970 mbar (hPa)

A tropical wave became a tropical depression on September 26, located 400 miles (640 km) northeast of the Lesser Antilles. On September 27 while moving northward, it strengthened to become Tropical Storm Gloria. After moving northwestward for a day, Gloria moved northeast, strengthening to a 105 mph (165 km/h) hurricane on September 30. Steady weakening ensued, and Gloria lost its tropical characteristics on October 4.

Tropical Depression Nineteen[edit]

Tropical depression (SSHWS)
Duration October 3 – October 12
Peak intensity 35 mph (55 km/h) (1-min)  1005 mbar (hPa)

This depression affected Cuba.

Hurricane Holly[edit]

Category 1 hurricane (SSHWS)
Duration October 22 – October 28
Peak intensity 75 mph (120 km/h) (1-min)  990 mbar (hPa)

The tropical depression that became Hurricane Holly formed from a tropical wave 200 miles (320 km) east of the northern Lesser Antilles on October 22. After a day, the storm became Tropical Storm Holly, strengthening to Hurricane Holly on October 24. Holly weakened to a tropical storm on October 25. The storm became extratropical on October 28 while located 400 miles (640 km) northwest of the Azores islands.

Seasonal effects[edit]

Name Dates active Category at
peak intensity
wind speeds
Pressure Land areas affected Damage
Deaths Refs
One May 21 – 25 Subtropical storm 50 mph (85 km/h) 994 hPa (29.36 inHg) Southeastern United States None None
Two June 7 - 9 Tropical depression 35 mph (55 km/h) Not Specified None None None
Three June 11 - 12 Tropical depression 35 mph (55 km/h) Not Specified None None None
Four July 20 - July 21 Tropical depression 30 mph (45 km/h) Not Specified None None None
Five July 23 - July 24 Tropical depression 30 mph (45 km/h) Not Specified None None None
Anna July 28 – August 6 Tropical storm 45 mph (75 km/h) 999 hPa (29.50 inHg) None None None
Belle August 6 – 10 Category 3 hurricane 120 mph (195 km/h) 957 hPa (28.26 inHg) United States East Coast $100 million 5
Candice August 18 – 21 Category 1 hurricane 90 mph (150 km/h) 964 hPa (28.47 inHg) None None None
Dottie August 18 – 21 Tropical storm 50 mph (85 km/h) 996 hPa (29.42 inHg) Southeastern United States Minor None
Emmy August 20 – September 3 Category 2 hurricane 105 mph (165 km/h) 974 hPa (28.76 inHg) Lesser Antilles, Azores None 68
Frances August 27 – September 7 Category 3 hurricane 115 mph (185 km/h) 963 hPa (28.44 inHg) None None None
Twelve September 4 - 6 Tropical depression 30 mph (45 km/h) Not Specified None None None
Thirteen September 5 - 7 Tropical depression 30 mph (45 km/h) Not Specified None None None
Fourteen September 13 – 17 Subtropical storm 50 mph (85 km/h) 1011 hPa (29.86 inHg) Southeastern United States Minor None
Fifteen September 20 - 27 Tropical depression 35 mph (55 km/h) Not Specified None None None
Sixteen September 22 - 24 Tropical depression 30 mph (45 km/h) Not Specified None None None
Gloria September 26 – October 4 Category 2 hurricane 105 mph (165 km/h) 970 hPa (28.65 inHg) None None None
Eighteen September 26 - 28 Tropical depression 35 mph (55 km/h) Not Specified None None None
Nineteen October 3 - 12 Tropical depression 35 mph (55 km/h) Not Specified None None None
Twenty October 12 - 15 Tropical depression 35 mph (55 km/h) Not Specified None None None
Holly October 22 - 29 Category 1 hurricane 75 mph (120 km/h) 990 hPa (29.24 inHg) None None None
Season Aggregates
21 systems May 21 – October 29 120 mph (195 km/h) 957 hPa (28.26 inHg) $100 million 73

Storm names[edit]

The following names were used for named storms (tropical storms and hurricanes) that formed in the Atlantic basin in 1976.[8] Storms were named Belle, Candice, Dottie, Emmy and Gloria for the first time in 1976. Names that were not assigned are marked in gray. This is the last time these names have been used except for Gloria, Frances and Maria.

  • Holly
  • Inga (unused)
  • Jill (unused)
  • Kay (unused)
  • Lilias (unused)
  • Maria (unused)
  • Nola (unused)
  • Orpha (unused)
  • Pamela (unused)
  • Ruth (unused)
  • Shirley (unused)
  • Trixie (unused)
  • Vilda (unused)
  • Wynne (unused)


None of the names from the 1976 season were retired.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lawrence, Miles (April 1977). "Atlantic Hurricane Season of 1976" (PDF). Monthly Weather Review. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  2. ^ Hurricane Research Division (March 2011). "Atlantic basin Comparison of Original and Revised HURDAT". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2011-07-23. 
  3. ^ David Levinson (2008-08-20). "2005 Atlantic Ocean Tropical Cyclones". National Climatic Data Center. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-23. 
  4. ^ David M. Roth. Tropical Storm Dottie Rainfall Page. Retrieved on 2007-12-25.
  5. ^ Dottie TCR Page 1
  6. ^ Dottie TCR Page 2
  7. ^ Dottie TCR Page 3
  8. ^ Associated Press (1976-05-21). "Hurricane Center Gets Ready". Retrieved 2007-12-01. 

External links[edit]