Hurricane Hilda at Category 4 intensity in the Gulf of Mexico
|Formed||September 28, 1964|
|Dissipated||October 4, 1964|
|Highest winds||1-minute sustained:
150 mph (240 km/h)
|Lowest pressure||941 mbar (hPa); 27.79 inHg|
|Damage||$126 million (1964 USD)|
|Areas affected||Cuba, Yucatán Peninsula, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia|
|Part of the 1964 Atlantic hurricane season|
Hurricane Hilda was the third hurricane to make landfall in the United States during the 1964 Atlantic hurricane season. Originating near Cuba, the cyclone intensified while moving through the Gulf of Mexico, and became a Category 4 hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico before striking Louisiana in early October. In combination with a frontal zone located across the Southeast United States, the hurricane spread heavy rains through the South through the Carolinas into the Mid-Atlantic States. Hilda led to significant damage to oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as $126 million (1964 USD) in damage, and 38 deaths.
Hilda originated from a slow-moving easterly wave that was moving westward through the Caribbean Sea. On the morning of September 28, a weak cyclonic circulation formed just off of Cuba and intensified as it moved westward. It became a storm after passing the western tip of Cuba.
Hilda moved at about 9 mph (14 km/h) and entered the Gulf of Mexico, intensifying steadily. The storm reached hurricane status, reaching its peak intensity on October 1 of 150 mph (240 km/h) and a minimal pressure of 941 mbar (27.8 inHg). Hilda turned northward on October 1 at an average speed of 6 mph (10 km/h) for two days. Hilda made landfall in the central Louisiana coast on the evening of October 3. A decrease in intensity had occurred the day prior to landfall, but Hilda was still a major hurricane when it reached the Gulf Coast. After the eye moved inland, Hilda weakened rapidly, moving towards Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The storm was forced eastward due to cold air and strong pressure rises.
Soon after the eastward turn, Hilda fell to tropical storm status and continued to weaken as cold air continued to enter the storm. Hilda became an extratropical low on October 5 over Mississippi. The low passed over Jacksonville, Florida and entered the Atlantic Ocean.
Over 11000 personnel from offshore oil rigs were evacuated on September 30 or October 1. About fourteen men decided to ride out the storm on the oil rig "Ocean Driller". In coastal areas of Louisiana, Civil Defense records indicate that 150,000 people evacuated on October 1 or October 2, as Hilda approached. People in the area between Freeport and Sabine, Texas boarded up their homes and evacuated to higher ground on October 1 with the memory of Hurricane Carla at hand.
Gulf of Mexico
Hilda was the most damaging tropical cyclone to the offshore oil industry, at the time of its impact. More than US$100 million in losses were incurred, when 13 oil platforms were destroyed, with an additional 5 more damaged beyond repair.
Almost a complete evacuation of the entire Louisiana coast accounted for the low death toll of 38, most of which were caused by tornadoes spawned by the storm as it approached the coast. One twister at Larose, Louisiana, killed 22 and injured 200 people. Three other tornadoes caused much damage in the New Orleans metropolitan area but no deaths. In the town of Erath, Louisiana, 8 deaths were attributed to the collapse of the town's water tower onto their city hall, the eight men killed were volunteer civil defense workers. A tornado in Golden Meadow damaged several buildings and knocked down utility lines. The tornado damage, in combination with the crop damage from rainfall, caused a total of $126,000,000 in damage (1964 dollars). The highest rainfall report measured during Hilda was five miles northwest of Jeanerette, where 17.71 inches/449.8 mm fell. Damage totaled $3 million.
Rains were excessive in Georgia due to Hilda. The rains and resulting flooding caused extensive damage to roads, bridges, culverts, farmland and other property in several portions of the state. The heaviest damage from Hilda was in the northern mountainous towns where eight inches fell and following rains. Damage in Rabun County alone was $100,000 (1964 USD).
The only effects on Texas by Hilda were rough seas and high tides. No deaths or injuries were reported and slight damage occurred. A few piers and secondary roads received slight damage. State Highway 87 near the Bolivar Peninsula in the Gilcrest and High Island area were covered with four foot tides.
Mid-Atlantic United States
Heavy rains fell in the Carolinas ranging from 5-10 inches in South Carolina and the adjacent North Carolina. The rains caused tributaries in Sanatee River System to start rapidly rising. The main effect in the Carolinas was some flash flooding in South Carolina. Moderate to heavy rains fell in south-central Virginia as well.
- National Hurricane Center (1965). "Hurricane Hilda Preliminary Report — Page 1 - Storm History". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2007-04-13.
- National Hurricane Center (1965). "Hurricane Hilda Prelimary Report — Page 2 - Storm History + Impact". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2007-04-13.
- National Hurricane Center (1965). "Hurricane Hilda Prelimary Report — Page 4 - Preparations". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2007-04-13.[dead link]
- National Hurricane Center (1965). "Hurricane Hilda Prelimary Report — Page 5 - Preparations + Impact". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2007-04-13.[dead link]
- Robert Orton (1965). "Hurricane Hilda Damage Notes — Page 3 - Austin, Texas". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2007-04-13.
- U. S. Department of the Interior Minerals Management Service. History of the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry in Southern Louisiana Interim Report: Volume I: Papers on the Evolving Offshore Industry. Retrieved on 2007-02-02.
- David Roth. Hurricane Hilda. Retrieved on 2007-04-14.
- Horace S. Carter (1965). "Hurricane Hilda Damage Notes — Page 1 - Georgia I". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2007-04-13.
- National Hurricane Center (1965). "Hurricane Hilda Rainfall Report — Page 1 - Rain — Charleston, SC". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2007-04-13.
- Nathan Kronberg (1965). "Hurricane Hilda Damage Notes — Page 5 - Charleston, SC". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2007-04-13.
- National Hurricane Center (1965). "Hurricane Hilda Rainfall Report — Page 4 - Rain — Raleigh, NC". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2007-04-13.