1915 New Orleans hurricane
|Category 4 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)|
|Formed||September 21, 1915|
|Dissipated||October 1, 1915|
|Highest winds||1-minute sustained: 145 mph (230 km/h)
|Lowest pressure||931 mbar (hPa); 27.49 inHg|
|Damage||$13 million (1915 USD)|
|Areas affected||Trinidad and Tobago, Windward Islands, Leeward Antilles, Venezuela, Colombia, Jamaica, Honduras, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Yucatán Peninsula, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania|
|Part of the 1915 Atlantic hurricane season|
The New Orleans Hurricane of 1915 was an intense Category 4 hurricane that made landfall near Grand Isle, Louisiana during the 1915 Atlantic hurricane season. The hurricane killed 275 people and caused $13 million (1915 US dollars) in damage.
The storm was first reported near the Lesser Antilles between Puerto Rico and South America. In the Caribbean, it strengthened to a 145 mph (230 km/h) Category 4 hurricane on September 25. As the hurricane moved closer to the Gulf Coast, hurricane warnings were put up from Florida to Louisiana. The storm made landfall near Grand Isle, Louisiana on September 29 as a strong Category 4 hurricane with 145 mph (200 km/h) sustained winds. The storm then moved north and weakened into a tropical storm as it crossed into Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. The storm became extratropical as it moved north.
In New Orleans winds of 50 miles per hour (80 km/h) reached the city at 7am, climbing to 60 miles (97 km) an hour over the next 5 hours. Hurricane conditions were experienced from the afternoon into the night, with steady winds of 102 mph (164 km/h) and gusts up to 130 mph (210 km/h). There were reports of damage in New Orleans, with roofs blown off buildings and the Presbytère on Jackson Square losing its cupola. The clock on St. Louis Cathedral stopped at 5:50pm, the height of the storm. The hurricane damaged the Times-Picayune building, hampering newspaper production. More church steeples in the city were blown down or significantly damaged than remained intact.
The landmark Presbyterian Church on Lafayette Square collapsed, as did St. Anna's Episcopal Church on Esplanade Avenue. Half the rides at Spanish Fort were destroyed. Horticultural Hall in Audubon Park was destroyed. Wind damage was worse than the most recent previous hurricane to hit the city in 1909, but flooding was much less widespread; however, there were reports of waters from Lake Pontchartrain being forced backwards into the city's drainage canals by the storm, an event which would be repeated more catastrophically with Hurricane Katrina 90 years later. After power to drainage pumps failed, parts of the Mid-City neighborhood suffered significant flooding.
Only 21 of the storm-related deaths were within the city.
Areas along the Lower Coast (south of New Orleans) were hit even harder than the city. A telegraph report states the situation:
- "Whole country between Poydras and Buras inundated. Levees gone, property loss appalling. Life toll probably heavy. Conditions estimated worse than ever before. Relief needed. No Communications..."
There were 23 dead in Venice, Louisiana, with similar numbers in coastal towns of Frenier and LaBranche. Plaquemines Parish experienced the worst fatalities with deaths estimated at over 200; the bodies of some victims were never found. In Plaquemines Parish, there was severe flooding and miles of levees were washed away. Thousands of people were left homeless. The hurricane also wrecked many of the oyster boats, damaging the local economy.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to New Orleans Hurricane of 1915.|
- 1915 Hurricane - excerpts from contemporary local newspaper accounts
- The Hurricane of Sept. 29th, 1915,and Subsequent Heavy Rainfalls. New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board Report
- Great Storm of 1915 track (Weather Underground)
- Great Storm of 1915 track map (unisys)