|Category 2 hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)|
|Formed||August 20, 1976|
|Dissipated||September 4, 1976|
|Highest winds||1-minute sustained: 105 mph (165 km/h)
|Lowest pressure||974 mbar (hPa); 28.76 inHg|
|Areas affected||Lesser Antilles, Azores|
|Part of the 1976 Atlantic hurricane season|
Hurricane Emmy was the longest-lived hurricane of the 1976 Atlantic hurricane season. The fifth tropical cyclone and the third hurricane of the season, Emmy developed from a tropical wave on August 20 to the east of the Lesser Antilles. After changing its direction three times over several days, during which it reached a peak intensity of 105 mph (170 km/h), it turned to the east and slowly weakened. Emmy passed through the Azores on September 3, and a day later it was absorbed by approaching Hurricane Frances.
Emmy passed within 135 miles (215 km) of the Lesser Antilles, though only minor effects were experienced. No damage was reported in the Azores, though strong winds from the hurricane caused a Venezuelan air force flight to crash near Lajes Field, killing all 68 aboard.
A tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa between August 15 and August 16. The wave moved westward at 15 to 20 mph (24 to 32 km/h), and developed atmospheric convection along the wave axis. It slowly organized, developing a low-level circulation, and formed into a tropical depression on August 20 while located about 775 miles (1,250 km) east of Barbados. A reconnaissance aircraft flight into the system on August 21 confirmed the existence of a depression, which reported winds of only 23 mph (37 km/h) with a pressure of 1,012 mbar. The depression slowly strengthened and organized, and after turning to the west-northwest, it intensified into Tropical Storm Emmy on August 22 while located 370 miles (600 km) east-northeast of Guadeloupe. The tropical wave from which Emmy developed from continued westward through the Caribbean Sea and ultimately developed into Tropical Storm Joanna in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
Tropical Storm Emmy turned more to the northwest, and passed about 135 miles (220 km) northeast of Barbuda on August 23. The rapid development of an unseasonable frontal low pressure system to the northeast of the storm turned Emmy sharply east-northeastward on August 25. Its eastward movement at such a low latitude for the time of year was unprecedented. The storm steadily intensified and Emmy attained hurricane status later on the 25th while located 270 miles (430 km) north of Barbuda. After moving eastward for about 24 hours, the Westerlies retreated northward, and Emmy turned gradually to the northwest.
A strong ridge over the north Atlantic Ocean turned Emmy sharply eastward on August 29. The hurricane continued to strengthen, and Emmy attained a peak intensity of 105 mph (170 km/h) shortly after turning to the east while located 500 miles (800 km) northeast of Bermuda. The hurricane maintained its peak intensity for 42 hours while moving eastward at 17 mph (27 km/h), and slowly weakened after peaking in strength. On September 1, Emmy turned to the east-southeast, and a day later it turned to the northeast as its forward motion decreased. Emmy passed through the Azores on September 3, and the following day it became extratropical to the north of the islands. The extratropical remnant persisted another six hours before being absorbed by approaching Hurricane Frances.
Impact and preparations
Initially, the path of Emmy was uncertain whether it would affect the Lesser Antilles. As a result, officials issued a hurricane watch for the northeastern Leeward Islands. The warning was cancelled when the storm turned more to the north, with the outer fringes of the hurricane slightly impacting Antigua. Several ships experienced rough seas and strong winds from Emmy, though none reported any damage. After Emmy turned to the west for the final time, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center considered the hurricane not a real threat to land, though they indicated it had a remote chance to affect land masses. The hurricane also posed a threat to the island of Bermuda initially, though it remained away from the island. Two days before Emmy passed through the Azores, the National Hurricane Center advised citizens there to closely monitor the progress of the storm. No damage reports exist from the Azores, though it was likely not severe.
On September 3, a C-130 Hercules air force flight left Caracas, Venezuela for Spain, with a flight crew of 10 and 58 members of the Central University of Venezuela choir. That night, heavy rainfall from the hurricane forced the plane to land on the Azores island of Terceira Island, Portugal. After attempting twice to land in hurricane force winds, the plane crashed in a hill one mile from the runway of Lajes Field, killing all 68 aboard.
- National Hurricane Center (1976). "Hurricane Emmy Tropical Cyclone Report Page 1" (GIF). Retrieved 2006-11-14.
- Miles Lawrence, Neil Frank, & Gilbert Clark (1977). "Atlantic Hurricane Season of 1976" (PDF). National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2006-11-14.
- "Storm Bears down on Leeward Islands". Associated Press. 1976-08-23.
- United Press International (1976-08-23). "Emmy nears hurricane force".
- "Tropic Storm Builds Power". Associated Press. 1976-08-25.
- "Emmy Veers Westward". Associated Press. 1976-08-28.
- United Press International (1976-08-25). "Emmy Churning North to Possible Bermuda Strike".
- "Hurricane Frances heading from land". United Press International. 1976-09-01.
- Richard Kebabjian (2006). "Accident Details". www.planecrashinfo.com. Retrieved 2006-11-14.
- "Transport Crashes in Azores". Associated Press. 1976-09-04.
- Gabriel Lee (2005). "Iquitos Express - C-130 Hercules FAV2716". Silicon Valley Scale Modelers. Retrieved 2006-11-14.