Hurricane Dog (1950)
|Category 4 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)|
|Formed||August 30, 1950|
|Dissipated||September 12, 1950|
|Highest winds||1-minute sustained: 145 mph (230 km/h)
|Lowest pressure||≤ 948 mbar (hPa); 27.99 inHg|
|Fatalities||26 direct, 5 indirect|
|Damage||$3 million (1950 USD)|
|Areas affected||Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico, East Coast of the United States, Bermuda, Atlantic Canada|
|Part of the 1950 Atlantic hurricane season|
Hurricane Dog was the most intense hurricane in the 1950 Atlantic hurricane season. The fourth named storm of the season, Dog developed on August 30 to the east of Antigua; after passing through the northern Lesser Antilles, it turned to the north and intensified into a Category 4 hurricane. Dog reached its peak intensity with winds of 145 mph (230 km/h) over the open Atlantic and after weakening, it passed within 200 miles (320 km) of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The storm became extratropical on September 12.
Hurricane Dog caused extensive damage to the Leeward Islands, and was considered the most severe hurricane on record in Antigua. Many buildings were destroyed or severely damaged on the island, with thousands left homeless just weeks after Hurricane Baker caused serious damage there. In the United States, the hurricane caused moderate coastal damage, including damage to several boats, and resulted in 11 offshore drownings. Strong winds caused widespread power outages across southeastern New England. There were twelve people missing and assumed dead offshore Nova Scotia. Damage across its path totaled about $3 million (1950 USD, $26.8 million 2009 USD).
Tropical Storm Dog was first observed as a 70 mph (110 km/h) tropical storm on August 30, when the SS Sibrodin reported gale force winds and an area of low pressure about 320 miles (510 km) east-southeast of Antigua. Its origin is unknown, though it is believed to have formed from a tropical wave that left the coast of Africa on August 24. With high pressures to its northeast, the storm tracked west-northwestward, and attained hurricane status early on August 31. Hurricane Dog turned to the northwest on September 1, and intensified into a major hurricane that night as it passed just north of the northern Lesser Antilles. While the hurricane was passing near the islands, the island of Saint Martin reported a pressure of 978.7 mbar.
Under weak steering currents, Hurricane Dog drifted northwestward as it steadily intensified, and on September 5 attained Category 4 intensity about 335 miles (540 km) north of the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic. The hurricane strengthened further after turning to the north-northeast, and on September 6 Hurricane Hunters visually estimated peak winds of 185 mph (300 km/h) about 450 miles (720 km) south-southwest of Bermuda; however, being early in the period of hurricane reconnaissance, such wind speeds—derived from observations of the sea surface—were subjective and sometimes unreliable. In 2014, a reanalysis of HURDAT by the Hurricane Research Division found that the peak winds in Hurricane Dog were more likely 145 mph (230 km/h), marking a reduction in the intensity of Hurricane Dog from Category 5 to Category 4. Nevertheless, while now estimated to have been less intense than assessed operationally in 1950, Dog was a formidable hurricane while over the western Atlantic, producing wave heights of over 100 feet (30 m).
Hurricane Dog maintained its peak intensity for about 18 hours. On September 7, the cyclone attained a central pressure of 948 mbar (27.99 inHg), which was the lowest pressure in association with the hurricane. A building ridge of high pressure to its north caused it to decelerate and weaken steadily for unknown reasons as it turned to the west; by September 9, the intensity had decreased to 90 mph (145 km/h). On September 10, as it turned northward, Hurricane Dog briefly re-intensified slightly to winds of about 100 mph (160 km/h) before weakening again. The hurricane passed within 200 miles (320 km) of Cape Cod on September 12, and shortly afterwards it transitioned to an extratropical cyclone. The extratropical remnant turned to the east and later to the northeast, and the system persisted, finally losing its identity near Ireland on September 16.
In the United States, the threat of the hurricane prompted the National Weather Bureau to issue warnings of gale force winds, high tides, and rough surf from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to Maine. At least 17 naval ships were moved in preparation for the hurricane. Rhode Island state police officers warned homeowners near the coast to be ready to evacuate, if necessary. There, officials also closed several beaches and canceled ferry travel along the state's southern waterways. On the day of the hurricane's closest approach to the United States, the National Weather Bureau issued storm warnings from Cape May, New Jersey to Eastport, Maine.
Passing through the Lesser Antilles, Hurricane Dog produced a storm surge of 8 feet (2.4 m) in Antigua. Winds on Antigua and Barbuda were estimated at 130 mph (210 km/h), with a gust of 144 mph (232 km/h) recorded at St. John's, Antigua and Barbuda. On Antigua, where hurricane force winds were reported for 6 hours, residents considered it the most severe hurricane in history. Hurricane Dog left thousands homeless on Antigua, just weeks after Hurricane Baker caused severe damage on the island. Damage throughout the Lesser Antilles totaled $1 million (1950 USD, $8.92 million 2009 USD), primarily on Antigua and Barbuda and included many damaged or destroyed homes, ruined crops, blocked roads from washouts or fallen trees, and power outages across the islands. The hurricane resulted in several shipwrecks; two people drowned when their small boat capsized. The hurricane sank a boat on the island of Saint-Barthélemy, where damage amounted to $70,000 (1950 USD, $624 thousand 2009 USD).
Heavy rain fell in the Mid-Atlantic States, leading to flash floods in some locations. In Bel Air, Maryland, a car drove into the swollen Little Gunpowder Falls; three people in the car drowned and a fourth was injured. A further two people drowned in Lexington, Virginia. Though newspaper sources attributed the heavy rainfall to Hurricane Dog, this was not confirmed.
The hurricane produced high tides and rough surf along the East Coast of the United States, with coastal flooding reported along some beaches in Rhode Island. The hurricane capsized or damaged several boats along the coastline, including two large vessels in Nantucket. In Marblehead, Massachusetts, the surf grounded at least 15 vessels from the harbor onto a coastal causeway. Near Cape Cod, damage to fishermen's assets totaled $150,000 (1950 USD, $1.34 million 2009 USD). Tides along Nantucket were reported at the highest levels since the 1944 Great Atlantic Hurricane. Hurricane Dog produced powerful wind gusts along coastal areas of New England, which caused widespread power outages, including a loss of power to 15 towns on Cape Cod, to hundreds of residences on Nantucket, and to several other locations in the area. Additionally, winds from the hurricane destroyed two small barns and uprooted a few trees, some of which blocked roads. The hurricane deposited light to moderate rainfall across southeastern Massachusetts, ranging from around 1 inch (25 mm) to about 4 to 5 inches (100 to 125 mm) near Nantucket. In Provincetown, a car hit a woman—neither the driver nor the victim were able to see due to the rains. A man in Falmouth was paralyzed from the waist downwards after coming into contact with a wet tree limb next to a downed power line. Overall damage was fairly light, totaling about $2 million (1950 USD, $17.8 million 2009 USD)—a much lower total than would have been expected if the hurricane had made landfall. In all, 12 people died in New England as a result of the hurricane. Two ships went missing during the storm along the coast of Nova Scotia, with a crew of six people each; their status is unknown, and they are considered storm fatalities.
Naming, records and aftermath
During the 1950, 1951, and 1952 seasons, Atlantic hurricanes were named using the Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet. However, Hurricane Dog was referred to as "the great hurricane in the central Atlantic" in newspaper reports, and its name was seldom used. Operationally, hurricanes were not referred to by name until 1952.
A relief fund was organized in the aftermath of the hurricane by The Daily Gleaner, a newspaper from Kingston, Jamaica. The newspaper invited its readers to help assist "their suffering fellow-West Indians in the island of Antigua." Four days after the hurricane, the fund totaled £171,000 (1950 GBP, $4.27 million 2009 USD). One Antigua official stated the country "would appreciate voluntary assistance from outside, especially food and clothing". Relief aid was also sent from the United States to the affected islands.
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- Hagen, Andrew B.; Donna Strahan-Sakoskie; Christopher Luckett (2012). "A Reanalysis of the 1944–53 Atlantic Hurricane Seasons—The First Decade of Aircraft Reconnaissance". Journal of Climate (American Meteorological Society) 25 (13): 4441–4460. doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-11-00419.1. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
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- Associated Press (1950-09-11). "Hurricane Winds, High Tides Due Along Newport Shore Tonight". The Newport Daily News.
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- Edouard Magras (2006). "St-Barth Weekly" (PDF). Le Journal de Saint-Barth. Retrieved 2007-04-01.
- National Weather Service and the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University at Albany: State University of New York (2001). "41 Tropical Cyclones producing > 4 inches of rainfall in the Northeast U.S. during the period 1950–2001" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-04-01.
- National Weather Service and the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University at Albany: State University of New York (2001). "Hurricane Dog Storm Track and Precipitation". Retrieved 2007-04-01.
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- Atlantic Tropical Weather Center (2003). "Tropical cyclone naming". Retrieved 2007-04-02.
- O'Neil Hendrick (1952-08-31). "Coastal City Whipped by Hurricane". Associated Press.
- Staff Writer (1950-09-05). "Gleaner Opens Antigua Fund". The Daily Gleaner.
- Associated Press (1950-09-12). "Hurricane Relief Rushed".