List of Atlantic hurricanes before 1600

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This is a list of all known or suspected Atlantic hurricanes before 1600. Although most storms likely went unrecorded, and many records have been lost, recollections of hurricane occurrences survive from some sufficiently populated coastal areas and rarely ships at sea that survived the tempests.

Observation data for years before 1492 is completely unavailable because most natives of North America lacked written languages to keep records in the pre-Columbian era, and most records in written Mesoamerican languages either do not survive or have not been deciphered and translated. Scientists now regard even data from the early years of the Columbian era as suspicious because Renaissance scientists and sailors made no distinction between tropical cyclones and extratropical systems and incomplete because European exploration of North America and European colonization of the Americas reached only scattered areas in the 16th century.

However, paleotempestology research allows reconstruction of pre-historic hurricane activity trends on timescales of centuries to millennia. A theory has been postulated that an anti-phase pattern exists between the Gulf of Mexico coast and the East Coast of the United States.[1] During the quiescent periods, a more northeasterly position of the Azores High would result in more hurricanes being steered towards the Atlantic coast. During the hyperactive period, more hurricanes were steered towards the Gulf coast as the Azores High—controlled by the North Atlantic Oscillation—was shifted to a more southwesterly position near the Caribbean. In fact, few major hurricanes struck the Gulf coast during 3000 BC–1400 BC and again during the most recent millennium; these quiescent intervals were separated by a hyperactive period during 1400 BC and AD 1000, when catastrophic hurricanes frequently struck the Gulf coast, and their landfall frequencies increased by a factor of three to five.[2] On the Atlantic coast, probability of landfalling hurricanes has doubled in the recent millennium compared to the one and a half millennia before.[3]

Using sediment samples from Puerto Rico, the Gulf coast and the Atlantic coast from Florida to New England, Michael E. Mann et al. (2009) found consistent evidence of a peak in Atlantic tropical cyclone activity during the Medieval Warm Period followed by a subsequent lull in activity.[4]

Storms[edit]

  ~  – only paleotempestological evidence

Pre-1500[edit]

Year Date
(GC)
Area(s) affected Damage/notes
~1330 BC unknown Nicaragua “Hurricane Elisenda”, similar to Hurricane Joan–Miriam.[5]
~250 BC unknown Belize A major hurricane landfall identified in sediment cores from Gales Point and Mullins River.[6]
~465 unknown Belize A major hurricane landfall identified in sediment cores from the Great Blue Hole.[7]
~765 unknown Belize A major hurricane landfall identified in sediment cores from the Great Blue Hole.[7]
~795 unknown Belize A major hurricane landfall identified in sediment cores from the Great Blue Hole.[7]
~830 unknown Alabama Presumably a category 4 or 5 hurricane that made landfall near Mobile Bay.[8]
~885 unknown Belize A major hurricane landfall identified in sediment cores from the Great Blue Hole.[7]
~1050 unknown Belize A major hurricane landfall identified in sediment cores from the Great Blue Hole.[7]
~1140 unknown Alabama Presumably a category 4 or 5 hurricane that made landfall near Mobile Bay.[8]
~1250 unknown Belize A major hurricane landfall identified in sediment cores from the Great Blue Hole.[7]
~1350±55 unknown New England Intense prehistoric hurricane making landfall near Rhode Island, similar to the 1815 and 1938 storms.[9]
~1310 unknown Belize A major hurricane landfall identified in sediment cores from the Great Blue Hole.[7]
~1330 unknown Belize A major hurricane landfall identified in sediment cores from the Great Blue Hole.[7]
~1430±20 unknown New England Intense prehistoric hurricane making landfall near Rhode Island, similar to the 1815 and 1938 storms.[9]
~1465 unknown Belize A major hurricane landfall identified in sediment cores from the Great Blue Hole.[7]
1494 Late September ~24th [O.S. Mid-September ~15th] Hispaniola A "violent hurricane" struck Hispaniola near La Isabela from southwest. It was the first hurricane in the Atlantic basin observed and reported by Europeans. Storm occurred during Christopher Columbus's second voyage to Hispaniola. Fleet arrived to Saona on day before September eclipse on Sept 14th(OS)/Sept 23(NS) and storm occurred shortly after this time.[10]
1495 late October Hispaniola Also affected La Isabela, damaging some of the ships in the harbor.[11] "When the hurricane reached the harbor, it whirled the ships round as they lay at anchor, snapped their cables, and sank three of them with all who were on board."[12]

1500–1524[edit]

Year Date
(GC)
Area(s) affected Damage/notes
~1500 unknown Belize, Leeward Antilles? A "giant hurricane", by far the strongest to strike Belize since the 3rd millennium BC. Identified in sediment cores from Gales Point and Mullins River, it is assumed "to have caused devastating large-scale social disruptions" among postclassical Maya civilization.[6] Could be identical with the ~1515 Belize hurricane identified in sediment cores from the Great Blue Hole.[7] An extreme storm surge struck Bonaire around 1500, too. Given the sheer magnitude of the event, however, particularly in comparison to Hurricane Hattie (Belize) and Hurricane Ivan (Bonaire), some conclude this might have been caused by an underwater earthquake.[13][14] Reportedly, a massive tsunami hit the coast of Venezuela in 1498—one of the earliest reported in the Caribbean—that smashed the natural levee between the coast of Cumaná and the Araya Peninsula, thus creating the Gulf of Cariaco.[15]
1500 late July Bahamas Vicente Yáñez Pinzón lost two caravels with their crews near Crooked Island, Bahamas; his other two vessels sustained damage but escaped to Hispaniola for repairs. This is the first hurricane known in the Bahamas and probably Florida.[16][17]
1502 July 10 [O.S. June 30][18] offshore Dominican Republic, Hispaniola A rapidly moving hurricane with a small diameter probably came from vicinity of Grenada, moving northwesterly through the Mona Passage. On the fourth of the voyages of Christopher Columbus, he predicted the storm and took refuge in a natural harbor on the Dominican Republic. Meanwhile, his rivals refused to heed his warning and sent a convoy of 31 treasure ships toward Spain. According to Bartolomé de las Casas, "twenty ships perished with the storm, without any man, small or great, escaping, and neither dead nor alive could be found." Those drowned included Francisco de Bobadilla and Francisco Roldán. It was the first great maritime disaster in the New World. The only ship that reached Spain held money and belongings of Christopher Columbus, who survived the storm with Rodrigo de Bastidas. The center likely crossed Hispaniola about 40 miles (60 km) east of the city of Santo Domingo, which it "smashed flat." The death toll likely exceeded 500.[19][20][21][22]
1504 unknown north coast of Colombia Juan de la Cosa commanded a flotilla of four large carracks (naos in Spanish) to map the Caribbean Region of Colombia. A storm in the Gulf of Urabá wrecked all four vessels, and 175 of 200 men aboard died.[23] Tropical cyclone status in doubt.
1508 August 12–14 [O.S. August 2–4] Hispaniola José Carlos Millás hypothesizes that this storm developed east of the Lesser Antilles and crossed the archipelago near Guadeloupe or Dominica. It perhaps also affected the southern part of Puerto Rico. Moving west-northwest, the eye of this hurricane passed near Santo Domingo, leaving the city devastated and many men lost there and in the greater part of the island. According to Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés, the natives said they had never witnessed a storm "as intense or even similar in their lives, and they did not remember having heard or seen anything so frightful in their lives or in those of their forefathers."[24] The hurricane demolished the village of Buenaventura "to the level of the ground" and destroyed its entire population.[25] This hurricane drove the ship of Juan Ponce de León onto rocks at Yuna River, but it survived intact.[20]
1508 August 26 [O.S. August 16] Puerto Rico The caravel of Juan Ponce de León left Santo Domingo, but another storm 13 days after the preceding storm beached it on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico at Guaynia.[20] This hurricane, named "San Roque," affected the southern coast of the island from Guayanilla, Puerto Rico, westward.[26][27][28]
1509 August 8 [O.S. July 29] Hispaniola This hurricane moved past Santo Domingo just after the festivities marking the arrival of Diego Columbus as the new governor of the Indies on 20 July [O.S. 10 July]. According to Oviedo, it was "greater than the one of last year, not doing so much damage to the houses, although much greater in the country."[29]
1514 unknown Puerto Rico Andrés de Haro reported this storm several months afterwards, but the exact date remains unknown.[30]
1515 July Puerto Rico The royal officials told the monarch that one had caused the deaths of many Indians.[28][31][32]
~1515 unknown Belize A major hurricane landfall identified in sediment cores from the Great Blue Hole.[7]
1519 unknown near Jamaica, Cuba Eighteen men from a caravel near Jamaica survived a "minor hurricane."Fisher 1994 Aboard the vessel were Alonso de Zuazo and two Tavira sisters, which name the hurricane colloquially bears. The storm moved toward southern Pinar del Río Province in western Cuba.[33]
1520 unknown Hispaniola Affected Eastern Hispaniola.[34]
1523 unknown Florida West Coast Two ships and their crews lost off the west coast of Florida.[22]

1525–1549[edit]

Year Date
(GC)
Area(s) affected Damage/notes
1525 late October Western Cuba Hernán Cortés sent a vessel to Trinidad, Cuba. Juan de Avalos commanded a ship to Veracruz to supply his relative Hernán Cortés and the conquistadors. A "very severe" hurricane sunk the ship west of Havana, killing the captain, two Franciscan friars, and seventy seamen, but eight persons survived.[20][35][36]
1525 unknown Honduras Struck the newly established colony of Triunfo de la Cruz (Tela).[34]
1526 June North Carolina Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón lost a Spanish brigantine under his command amid the treacherous Frying Pan Shoals offshore from the mouth of Cape Fear River; the colonization attempt involving Francisco de Chicora ultimately failed.[37][38]
1526 October 14–15 [O.S. October 4–5] Puerto Rico, Eastern Hispaniola Millás hypothesizes that this hurricane progressed westward or west-northwestward and therefore also might have affected the northern group of the Leeward Islands and the Virgin Islands.[39] A violent hurricane moved slowly over northern Puerto Rico on 14 October and affected eastern Hispaniola on 15 October. The storm started at night, lasted 24 hours, and ruined the major part of the City of San Juan, Puerto Rico, including the church, and caused much damage to haciendas and agriculture. One source describes the storm in both 1526 and 1527.[40]
1527 circa October 30–31 [O.S. October 20–21] Western Cuba In the ill-fated Narváez expedition, Pánfilo de Narváez reached Santa Cruz del Sur, Cuba. He then sent two of his six vessels under the captains Pantoja and Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca to the port of Trinidad, Cuba to procure provisions. A "violent storm" destroyed the two ships in port, taking the lives of sixty or seventy persons and twenty horses aboard them; about thirty persons survived the storm on land. Pánfilo de Narváez and his four ships reached Trinity on 5 November.[41] This storm may continue from or into another tropical cyclone this season. Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca delivered a detailed report on this hurricane but did not provide the exact date. Millás provides the date here given.[42] Douglas places this hurricane in early November.[22][43]
1527 November upper Texas coast If this storm occurred, then it would be one of two November hurricanes to hit Texas . Some sources state that a storm sank a poorly anchored boat of Pánfilo de Narváez off Galveston Island, but this recollection seemingly conflates the previous storm in Trinidad, Cuba, with the misfortunes of the remnant of the expedition off the upper Texas coast the following autumn. The storm apparently caused as many as two hundred deaths.[44] Tropical cyclone status in doubt. Alternatively, perhaps a continuation of another storm this year.[45] Charlton W. Tebeau dates the loss of a Spanish fleet to 1528.[46]
1527 unknown Eastern Hispaniola Made landfall at Santo Domingo.[34]
1528 June 23 or 30 [O.S. 13 or 20 June 13 or 20] Aruba This hurricane struck a vessel in the Caribbean Sea north of Aruba, and the winds drove the stricken vessel westward for nearly four days until it ran aground on Serrana Bank.[47] A castaway reportedly lived on the cay for eight years before he was rescued, which eventually spun to the tale of Pedro Serrano.
1528 October 2 [O.S. September 22] Apalachee Bay, Florida Narváez expedition in 1528 visited the Tampa and Tallahassee areas. Soon after their departure from the Apalachee Bay in upper west Florida, they were shipwrecked by a hurricane storm. Only 10 or so survivors out of more than 400 crew. The voyage lasted from 22 September to 6 November.[48][49]
1528 unknown Hispaniola A letter, dated November 2, 1528 reports a ship lost on its way from Mexico to Santo Domingo.[50]
1529 July 28–29 Puerto Rico made landfall at San Juan de Puerto Rico.
~1530 unknown Belize A major hurricane landfall identified in sediment cores from the Great Blue Hole.[7]
1530 August 5 [O.S. July 26] Puerto Rico This hurricane of modest intensity, nicknamed Santa Ana, brought much rain to Puerto Rico.[51] It affected the entire island and destroyed half of the houses in San Juan, Puerto Rico.[52]
1530 September 1 [O.S. August 22] Puerto Rico This tropical storm or weak hurricane, nicknamed San Hipólito, brought much more rain than violent winds and caused more extensive flooding and crop damage.[52][53]
1530 September 10 [O.S. August 31] Puerto Rico A violent hurricane, nicknamed San Ramón, struck Puerto Rico nine days later. Floods isolated communities and drowned an uncounted number of persons to death. The hurricane greatly damaged livestock and agriculture and so distressed the Spanish colonists that they considered abandoning Puerto Rico altogether. The barrage of hurricanes during 1530 brought a condition of great suffering and poverty on Puerto Rico, which persisted for several years.[27][28][54]
1533 October 31-November 2 [O.S. October 21–23] Leeward Islands Oviedo mentions the case of two vessels that sailed from Santo Domingo to Spain, but were knocked off course by a hurricane probably north of the Leeward Islands, and returned to Puerto Plata forty days later.[55]
1533 unknown Puerto Rico The destruction of July 26, August 23, and August 31 killed "so many slaves."[22] This event may refer to the three tropical cyclones that struck Puerto Rico in 1530.
1537 July or August Puerto Rico In July and August, three storms of wind and water punished Puerto Rico. River currents carried away and destroyed plantations on the riverbanks. The floods drowned many slaves and cattle to death. This season caused even more damage than that of 1530 did. The storm put Puerto Ricans in great necessity and increased their will to depart the island of Puerto Rico.[28][31][32][56][57] Tropical cyclone status in doubt. This event may continue as the succeeding event.
1537 unknown northwest Cuba The carrack (nao in Spanish) San Juan, coming from Spain with valuable merchandise as cargo, was lost 5 leagues east of Havana during a hurricane. The 200-ton carrack Santa Catalina, carrying gold and silver from Mexico under captain Francisco López, sank in Havana Harbor during the hurricane.[36][58] Tropical cyclone status in doubt. Alternatively, this storm may continue the preceding storm.
1541 December 25 Venezuela A hurricane-like storm destroyed the remains of Nueva Cádiz.[59] However, a tsunami perhaps caused all this damage.[60]
1545 August 20 [O.S. August 10] Dominican Republic Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés delivers an eyewitness account on this small but very intense hurricane. It came from the south-southeast, passed west of the capital of Santo Domingo, killed "many" or a "large number of" persons there, and moved rapidly north-northwestward.[25][61] This storm may continue as another storm attributed to this season.
1545 September 17–18 [O.S. September 7–8] Puerto Rico, Hispaniola Excessive rains from this large, slow-moving tropical storm caused the greater damage.[62]
1545 unknown Mexico A merchant carrack (nao in Spanish) coming from Spain wrecked on the Veracruz reef system and totally lost 100,000 pesos of cargo. Most persons aboard the carrack, however, were saved. This occurred during a "norther."[63] Tropical cyclone status in doubt. Alternatively, this storm may continue another storm during this season.
1545 unknown Cuba Made landfall at Havana.[34]
1546 September 3 [O.S. August 24] Puerto Rico Made landfall at San Juan de Puerto Rico.[34]
1549 unknown Hispaniola The storm wrecked the vessel San Juan in the port of Nombre de Dios near Santo Domingo.[64]

1550–1574[edit]

Year Date
(GC)
Area(s) affected Damage/notes
1550 unknown off Florida Keys The 200-ton Spanish carrack (nao in Spanish) Visitación left Havana with treasure for Spain. She was "lost during a hurricane" off the Florida Keys.[65][66][67]
circa 1551 unknown Florida Hernando de Escalante Fontaneda survived a shipwreck, and the Calusa rescued the crew and passengers. They then sacrificed all the other castaways but enslaved him; he escaped after 17 years in captivity and reported the tale.[68]
1551 unknown Cuba Of this storm, Marcos de J. Melero mentions only the year in the Anales de la Academia de Ciencias de la Habana.[69]
1551 unknown Gulf of Honduras Diego de Landa reported this storm. One ship sunk with many persons aboard her; all but five passengers drowned.[69]
1552 August 28–29 Dominican Republic This storm made landfall at Santo Domingo.[34]
1552 September 2–4 Mexico This storm made landfall at Veracruz.[34]
1552 September 3–6 Florida [34]
1553 September 22 [O.S. September 12] Hispaniola Affected Santo Domingo.[70]
circa 1553 unknown Florida West Coast This storm caused seven hundred casualties.[22][63][71][72] Several sources contain similar descriptions of storms for this season; they may describe one or two or three separate tropical cyclones. This event may duplicate or continue the succeeding entry.
1553 unknown Texas A Spanish treasure fleet of twenty or more ships, sailed from Veracruz for Havana. Five days into its voyage, a hurricane struck the fleet in the Gulf of Mexico and scattered its ships widely. Three of the ship ultimately reached Spain, and another returned to Veracruz. No one ever heard from any of the other sixteen or more ships again. Many men undoubtedly drowned. The 220-ton San Estevan under Captain Francisco del Mecerno, the 220-ton Santa Maria de Yciar under Captain Alonso Ozosi, and a carrack (nao in Spanish) all wrecked on Padre Island.[73] These shipwrecks resemble those in the Mansfield Cut Underwater Archeological District, dated probably to April 1554. Alternatively, this storm may continue or duplicate the preceding entry. Several sources contain similar descriptions of storms for this season; they may describe one or two or three separate tropical cyclones.[22][71]
1554 April or May (?) offshore South Texas The New Spain fleet, a Spanish treasure fleet, comprised top-heavy galleons, difficult to maneuver, with primitive techniques for coping with storms and insufficient experienced navigators. Three ships from this fleet, Santa María de Yciar, Espíritu Santo, and San Esteban, were lost in a storm off Padre Island. A few survivors escaped in a small boat; others attempted to walk south back to Mexico, but hostile natives killed most of them. Conquistador Ángel de Villafañe participated in the salvage operation that summer, which recovered half of the lost treasure.[74] Tropical cyclone status in doubt. Alternatively, this storm may duplicate the preceding entry or another entry for this year. Mansfield Cut Underwater Archeological District probably contains these shipwrecks.
1554 June (?) Gulf of Mexico Three vessels came from Mexico. A hurricane, probably weak, caught them off the northwestern coast of Cuba and carried them toward the coast of Florida, stranding them. The storm neither sank nor badly disabled any known ship.[75]
1554 August or September Bahamas A storm near Great Inagua wrecked two vessels carrying a load of silver.[76]
1554 August to October Mona Passage In August or September, a Spanish caravel (nao in Spanish) ship of Juan González departed Santo Domingo for San Juan, Puerto Rico, with Bástidas Sanabria, son of Cristóbal de Sanabria, aboard her. As a result of a hurricane, the sea "swallowed" the ship somewhere in the Mona Passage. No one ever found any survivors or wreck debris; however, Cathedral of San Juan Bautista hosted a funeral Mass for the deceased. Cristóbal de Sanabria, a cleric in San Juan, told of the misfortune on 16 October.[77] Tropical cyclone status in doubt. This event may continue another storm listed for this year.
1554 November 14 [O.S. November 4] Cuba Cosme Rodríguez Farfán commanded a fleet of four vessels from Havana to San Juan, Puerto Rico. A storm hit the fleet off the coast of Oriente Province. The ship of the admiral sank; a small caravel also sank, and all but two people aboard that ship drowned to death.[78] This event may continue another storm listed for this year.
circa 1554 unknown Bermuda An overloaded, overcrowded galleon San Miguel ventured to bring great wealth from Veracruz to save the king, presumably Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, from bankruptcy. A long convoy of ships preceded her to protect her from French (and other) pirates. A week after departing Veracruz, two wind storms in the Gulf of Mexico left her with a broken mainmast, a wreck separated from the convoy, drifting for weeks within sight of Cuba and the Bahamas. A hurricane struck the San Miguel, and her crew cast all goods overboard except the bullion of the king. She lost her rudder but somehow survived, half-grounded on a reef. That hurricane caught the remaining ships in the convoy near Bermuda, and its leading ship sank. A caravel rescued the suffering passengers and crew of the San Miguel and sent her bullion cargo to Spain on a safer, more seaworthy ship. Twenty-five ships survived the trans-Atlantic voyage, carrying enough gold for the king. A Franco-Spanish War with considerable piracy apparently reached the Caribbean the next year.[79] This event may continue another storm listed for this year or another season. One source[80] dates this event to 1554, but the hurricane seemingly occurred between the beginning of the Viceroyalty of Luís de Velasco in New Spain (1550) and the beginning of the Italian War of 1551–1559, which involved France and Spain, suggesting that these storms struck in 1550.
1555 unknown Bahama Channel The Capitana of New Spain fleet lost in storm.[81] Tropical cyclone status in doubt.
1557 October 27 [O.S. October 17] Cuba A severe hurricane struck almost the western part of the island, extending from Pinar del Río eastward to Matanzas. It came from the western Caribbean Sea, moving probably from a southerly or a southwesterly direction.[82]
1559 August 29 [O.S. August 20] near Pensacola Florida/Mobile Alabama Tristán de Luna y Arellano attempted to start a colony around present day Pensacola with a fleet of eleven to thirteen vessels, five hundred soldiers, a thousand to eleven hundred civilians, 240 horses, and supplies; the vessels landed at Pensacola Bay on 14/15 August. On 19 September, a "great tempest from the north," a "tropical storm", or "hurricane" blew for 24 hours and scattered the still-loaded ships. Several ships—four or five navios with topsails, a galleon with a small amount of Mexican silver, and a small barque sent east of the onshore camp on a coast-exploration mission—shattered to pieces "with great loss of life" and cargo. The wreckage of San Juan galleon now defines the Emanuel Point Shipwreck Site. The storm also carried one caravel and its cargo into a grove farther ashore than the distance of an arquebus shot. One surviving ship sailed immediately to Mexico for relief.[46][65][66][83][84][85] The colony attempted to rely on native villages for sustenance, but its ventures acquired little food; the lack of food ultimately contributed to abandonment of the colony in 1561. One source[80] lists this event as three separate storms but suggests that they might represent different accounts of the same event.
1561 June 24 [O.S. June 14] North Carolina Ángel de Villafañe evacuated the colony of Tristán de Luna y Arellano from Pensacola to Havana with the San Juan and three other vessels. Afterward, he commanded the fleet to Santa Elena, la Florida, arriving on 6 June [O.S. 27 May]. The fleet then continued farther northward, exploring the coast until they sailed around Cape Hatteras. This fleet (or, less likely, a Spanish sloop under Pedro Menéndez de Avilés) in 1561 captured Don Luis from Ajacan, often identified with Virginia but perhaps farther south, even considerably south of Hatteras. In a storm off Cape Hatteras, the caravel of Villafañe almost foundered, and two vessels of the fleet undoubtedly perished. After the tragic loss of two vessels, the two surviving vessels ultimately retired to Santo Domingo or Havana.[86][87]
1563 unknown near Cape Canaveral, Florida The 250-ton Spanish galleon La Madelena, loaded with treasure in Vera Cruz, sailed under captain Cristobel Rodríquez to Spain. During a storm, she wrecked on a shoal near Cape Canaveral. Only 16 of the three hundred aboard her survived.[88][89] Tropical cyclone status in doubt.
1563 August to October Atlantic Ocean Five vessels missing at latitude of Bermuda.[81]
circa 1564 unknown possibly North Carolina "None of the people survived" from a wreck on the coast.[38]
1565 July 31—August 2 [O.S. July 21–23] Atlantic Ocean Pedro Menéndez de Avilés commanded a fleet of five ships; a violent hurricane east of the Leeward Islands dispersed them.[90]
1565 September 22 [O.S. September 12] Florida east coast French Huguenots founded Fort Caroline (now in Jacksonville, Florida) in 1564. Aiming to defeat the French, Spanish admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés reached a Timucua village and named it San Agustín (in English, now St. Augustine, Florida) on  [O.S. 28 August], the double of Saint Augustine of Hippo. After some inconclusive skirmishes against the French, he landed 800 men and began to construct a fort on 18 September [O.S. 8 September], the double of Nativity of Blessed Mary. Determined to oust the Spanish from Florida, Jean Ribault led two hundred French troops from Fort Caroline aboard his ships on 20 September [O.S. 10 September].

The French fleet-of-war that headed for Saint Augustine included:

  • 32-gun flagship Trinité under captain LeBlanc,
  • 29-gun vice-flagship Émérillon under captaincy of Vice Admiral Nicolas d'Ornano,
  • 29-gun vessel Émérillon under captaincy of Vincent Collas (probably a different vessel of the same name), and
  • auxiliary sail rig Épaule de Mouton (literally, Shoulder of Mutton) under captain Machonville.

The French vessels that stayed in St. Johns River at Fort Caroline included:

  • 10-gun vessel Perle under captaincy of Jacques Ribault (son of Jean Ribault) and
  • 10-gun vessel Lévrière under captaincy of Vivien Maillard.

Also associated with French forces were:

  • a 50-ton barque from English privateer John Hawkins,
  • a French privateer ship under captaincy of Jean du Boys,
  • two small Spanish vessels seized as prizes, and
  • a vessel called Trout (which may be included elsewhere).

As the French fleet approached Saint Augustine on 21 September [O.S. 11 September], a breeze broke the calm and then increased into a gale, a "furious tempest," a "severe storm," and even a hurricane, driving the French ships unintentionally south of Saint Augustine. As the storm intensified on September 25 [O.S. September 15], it drove probably all four French vessels aground at different points between the south shore of Matanzas Inlet and Cape Canaveral. In one shipwreck, at least five Frenchmen perished, and the desperate survivors, unable to salvage food or supplies, decided to walk northward to Fort Caroline. Indians killed three more Frenchmen the next day.

On September 26–27 [O.S. September 16–17], admiral Menéndez began to march his Spanish troops overland through the raging tempest to attack Fort Caroline. Menéndez and his troops reached the fort almost undetected in the rainy, windy predawn of 30 September [O.S. 20 September] and quickly captured it without sustaining any casualties. Following the instructions of Philip II of Spain, the victorious Spaniards executed most of the Frenchmen as Protestant heretics, whom the Spanish then labeled as luteranos. René Goulaine de Laudonnière, Jacques le Moyne, Nicolas Le Challeux, and perhaps as many as 64 others escaped through the tempest across the marshes to the Perle and Lévrière. These French ships searched for survivors until 5 October [O.S. 25 September] but then returned to Europe.

After their victory at Fort Caroline, the Spanish troops returned to Saint Augustine. Meanwhile, the storm finally cleared by 2 October [O.S. 22 September]. The Spaniards at Saint Augustine then learned of a frigate wrecked on the mouth of a river four to six leagues to the south, now known as Matanzas Inlet. The desperate French survivors lacked adequate food, water, and munitions. By 8 October [O.S. 28 September], Spanish troops sought and executed the Protestants as heretics but spared the Catholics and a few others.

The ship that carried Jean Ribault wrecked farther south, possibly near three others; the desperate survivors decided to move northward toward Fort Caroline. He reached Matanzas Inlet and surrendered exhausted on 20 October [O.S. 10 October] and suffered death as a Protestant heretic on 22 October [O.S. 12 October]. Of this party, the Spaniards spared only the Catholics and a few others, but many Frenchmen eluded capture. Circa 12 November [O.S. 2 November], admiral Menéndez found shipwreck survivors who eluded his slaughters on a beach north of Cape Canaveral. Some surrendered to the Spanish, who spared their lives and removed them away from Florida. Others escaped again to an obscure fate. [46][91][92][93][94][95][96]

1566 September 13–14 [O.S. September 3–4] Florida An offshore hurricane on the northeast Florida and upper/lower Georgia coastal waters.[94]
1566 September 24–26 [O.S. September 14–16] Florida A more severe offshore hurricane on the northeast Florida and Georgia coastal waters.[94]
1567 unknown Near Dominica A storm off Dominica wrecked six ships carrying 3 million pesos (77 metric tons (76 long tons) of silver). Natives of the island killed all survivors. Continuing bad weather delayed serious salvage efforts to 1568. In their zeal to locate the treasure, Spanish salvage operators tortured the inhabitants, but no one knows what happened to the cargo.[74]
1568 August 22 [O.S. August 12] Yucatan Channel A hurricane of large diameter but only weak or moderate intensity affected the fleet of English privateer John Hawkins near Cape San Antonio, Cuba.[97]
1568 September 3 [O.S. August 24] Puerto Rico Diego de Torres Vargas writes of a severe hurricane that caused widespread damage in San Juan, Puerto Rico and in Santo Domingo.[52][98] This storm perhaps continued in the succeeding entry.
1568 September 7 [O.S. August 28] Florida A second hurricane, perhaps the same storm as the preceding entry, struck the fleet of English privateer John Hawkins.[99] His six ships then straggled into the Spanish-controlled port of San Juan de Ulúa, Veracruz, New Spain, on 15 September, initially under a truce. Battle of San Juan de Ulúa (1568) against the Spanish, however, ensued on 23 September, and only two English vessels returned to Europe.[100]
1569 September Bahamas A storm passed Old Bahama Channel.[34]
1570 during or after September Atlantic Ocean Spanish lost four ships between Vera Cruz and Spain.[81] Tropical cyclone status in doubt.
1571 ~September/October Florida Heavy flooding in St. Augustine, Florida, two ships lost[94]
1571 October 18–21 Cuba, Jamaica [34]
1571 unknown Florida Coast The 300-ton galleon San Ignacio under captaincy of Juan de Canavas with 22 iron cannon and the 340-ton Santa Maria de la Limpia Concepcion together carried 2.5 million pesos in treasure. They wrecked off Cape Canaveral the Florida coast during a storm. Few survivors attempted to reachSt. Augustine, Florida, in two longboats; however, natives massacred most of them. Marine salvage recovered nothing.[89][101] Tropical cyclone status in doubt.
1573 August Atlantic Ocean A hurricane struck a ship in the vicinity of the Virgin Islands.[102]
1574 ~ August 27 Gulf of Mexico and Mexico Spanish treasure fleet sailed from Spain on 29 June. After reaching the Gulf of Mexico, a "bad storm" struck and scattered the ships widely. The storm sunk the 300-ton carrack (nao in Spanish) Santa Ana under captaincy of Pedro de Paredes, the carracks under ownership of Antonio Sánchez de Armas, and the carrack under ownership of Carrejas. The storm also wrecked an urca on the coast of Coatzacoalcos and drowned five men to death, but survivors saved all its cargo.[103] The wrecked ships included the 650-ton Santa Maria de Begonia. A violent hurricane on 27 August (possibly Julian calendar) struck between Jamaica and Cuba.[81]

1575–1599[edit]

Year Date
(GC)
Area(s) affected Damage/notes
1575 October 1 [O.S. September 21] Puerto Rico Diego de Torres Vargas mentions severe storm mentioned that struck the island on double of Saint Matthew.[104]
1576 unknown Hispaniola Storm made landfall near Monte Cristi Province.[34]
1577 probably August or September Cuba and Jamaica [34]
1578 unknown Hispaniola Storm made landfall near San José de Ocoa Province.[34]
1578 October Cuba and Jamaica [34]
1579 circa August Caribbean Sea A storm struck a vessel sailing from Havana to Isla Margarita.[105]
1579 September 13 Bermuda [34]
1579 September 26 Bermuda [34]
1579 unknown Atlantic Ocean A storm sank the 600-ton Almirante of Spanish Armada.[81] Tropical cyclone status in doubt.
1579 unknown Jamaica [34]
1583 August 19 [O.S. August 9] Hispaniola made landfall at Santo Domingo.[34]
1583 mid-September [O.S. early September] Hispaniola Archbishop Alfonso López de Avila of Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Santo Domingo, reported a hurricane that "ruined the fruit at the beginning of September (Julian calendar)."[106] Could be identical with the 19 August storm.
1586 June 23–26 [O.S. June 13–16] Roanoke Island Original European Roanoke Island settlers arrived in 1585. After experiencing a hurricane in 1586 that Ralph Lane reported: "The weather was so sore and the storm so great than our anchors would not hold, and no ship of them all but either broke or lost their anchors.", the settlers moved back to England.[107][108]
1586 unknown Old Bahama Channel A Spanish treasure fleet of 61 ships under Juan Tello de Guzmán gathered from all parts of the Caribbean at Havana and then left for Spain. During a storm in Old Bahama Channel, the fleet lost
  • the 120-ton ship of the line (navío in Spanish)San Francisco under Juan Alonso from Puerto Rico,
  • the 120-ton navío Nuestra Señora de la Concepción under Simón Rixo (or Rizo) from Puerto Rico,
  • the 120-ton carrack (nao in Spanish) under captaincy of Martín de Irigoyen from Mexico, and
  • five or six other vessels.

Surviving ships included the 120-ton navío San Sebastián under Diego Hernández from Puerto Rico.[109][110]

1587 August 31 [O.S. August 21] Roanoke Island John White reestablished the colony at Roanoke Island in July, 1587. Admiral Francis Drake was forced to cut the cables on his ship to spend six days riding out the storm at sea. He would regroup in Roanoke after the storm. John White left a group of colonists here and returned to England with the intention of returning with supplies and more colonists. When he did return in August 1590, no sign to the 1587 was ever found.[108]
1588 September 20 [O.S. September 10] Cuba A furious hurricane, more destructive than that of 1557, made landfall near Havana.[34][111]
1588 4–6 November Colombia This storm made landfall near Cartagena de Indias.[34]
1589 August 7 Leeward Islands [34]
1589 ~September 9 Old Bahama Channel English squadron (naval) awaited the return of Spanish ships from the Caribbean. Philip II of Spain, king of Iberian Union, consequently ordered that the Spanish Navy (Armada in Spanish) under captain general Alváro Flores de Quiñones, Tierra Firma fleet, and Spanish treasure fleet (Flota de Nueva España in Spanish) from Vera Cruz all meet in Havana and travel together in convoy to Spain. The convoy of 75 to 100 ships left Havana on 9 September and entered Old Bahama Channel; a hurricane quickly struck. Even before the hurricane, the 350-ton merchant carrack (nao in Spanish) Santa Catalina under ownership of Fernando Ome and captaincy of Domingo Ianez Ome, coming from Mexico with cargo, sank in 30 fathoms (180 ft; 55 m) of water "in about 30 degrees of latitude." The 400-ton nao Jesús María under ownership of Domingo Sauli and captaincy of Francisco Salvago, coming from Mexico, also sank in similar circumstances. A third merchant nao also sank with these two. In the hurricane at the month of Old Bahama Channel, the Almiranta of Flota de Nueva España developed a bad leak, fired cannon for assistance, and sank quickly with her great treasure in very deep water.[34][81][112]

This event may continue as another storm listed for this season. Robert F. Marx accuses Dutch historian Jan Huyghen van Linschoten of misinformation in telling that only 14 or 15 of 220 ships sailing for Iberian Union survived the year and that about 99 disappeared near Florida. He contends that Iberian Union lost only five ships this year: four in this storm in Old Bahama Channel and one returning from Goa. The location of the sinking, "in about 30 degrees of latitude," suggests that the term "Bahama Channel" in various sources may refer to the northern extension of Straits of Florida, not to Old Bahama Channel, as here assumed.

1589 unknown Old Bahama Channel The 120-ton Espíritu Santo under Miguel Baltasar, transporting sugar and hides from Puerto Rico, joined the preceding flotilla convoy in Havana. About 50 leagues from the Old Bahama Channel, a tempest struck the Spanish treasure fleet. Howling northeasterly winds lasted four days. On the first day, the sea "swallowed" a total of ten carracks (naos in Spanish), possibly including the Espíritu Santo. Some ships returned to Cuba; others proceeded to the Iberian Union.[113][114] This storm may continue as (or be identical with) the preceding storm or another storm or storms this season.
1589 unknown Florida Passed near Cape Canaveral.[34] Quite possibly the same as the next storm.
1589 unknown Florida East Coast Gonzalo Méndez de Canço, later governor of Florida, reports that Martín Pérez de Olazábal commanded a fleet; during a storm, one of his ships wrecked at Cape Canaveral. San Agustín (now St. Augustine, Florida) assisted four battered and dismasted ships carrying more than 450 persons; one ship entered the port and departed for Spain. The frigate of the presidio at San Agustín also discovered and rescued forty members of the crew of the ship lost on Cape Canaveral.[88][115] This event may continue another storm of this season. If "Old Bahama Channel" in the other entries for this year refers instead the northern extension of the "Straits of Florida," then this and the three immediately preceding listings may originate in different recollections of the same storm event.
1590 early November Gulf of Mexico Captain general Antonio Navarro de Prado commanded the 63-ship Spanish treasure fleet (Flota de Nueva España) that sailed from Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Iberian Union on 1 August. As the flotilla traversed the Gulf of Mexico and approached San Juan de Ulúa in Vera Cruz, a fierce "norther" struck with 12 hours of hurricane-force wind and rain. The fleet lost fourteen to sixteen ships along the Mexican coast, including:
  • the 280-ton carrack (nao in Spanish ) La Trinidad under captaincy of Bernardo de Paz, trying to enter Vera Cruz during the storm
  • the 180-ton Portuguese nao La Piedad under captaincy of Cristobal Sánchez Melgarejo, on the shoal of Vera Cruz with eighteen persons and most cargo saved
  • the 220-ton nao Nuestra Señora del Socorro under captaincy of Pedro Díaz Franco, in the Canal Gallega in Vera Cruz
  • the 130-ton Portuguese nao Nuestra Señora de la Concepción under captaincy of Miguel Rodríguez, near Vera Cruz

The storm swept two iron cannon from the decks of the San Francisco, heeled over the ship, and left her hold (ship) filled with water more than 6 feet (1.8 m) deep. The surviving 34 vessels on 8 November arrived at Vera Cruz badly damaged. [116] Tropical cyclone status in doubt.

1591 August 10 Atlantic Ocean English pirates menaced Spanish vessels considerably during the year. Spain expected 123 sailboats to arrive from the Caribbean, but a fleet of only 77 Spanish vessels, each with tonnage ranging from 200 to 1000, left Havana on 17 July for Spain. At latitude 35°N on 10 August, a northerly gale or hurricane overtook them, and the ship of the admiral of the fleet foundered with 500 men aboard her.[32][117][118][119] [Calendar unknown.] This event may continue the same storm as another event listed for this year.
1591 August 13–14 Atlantic Ocean Another hurricane hit the fleet three or four days after the first storm, sinking five or six of the largest ships of the fleet, including that of its vice-admiral. All the crews of the sunken vessels perished.[32][117][118][119] [Calendar unknown.] This event may continue the same storm as another event listed for this year.
1591 August 26 [O.S. August 16] Roanoke Island "For at this time the wind blew at northeast and direct into the harbor so great a gale that the sea broke extremely on the bar, and the tide went out forcibly at the entrance."[120][121]
1591 ~August 30–31 Atlantic Ocean About the end of August (maybe Julian calendar), the third gale caught the Spanish fleet at latitude 38°N, during which 22 vessels perished. The fleet thereafter comprised 48 surviving vessels.[32][117][118][119] This event may continue the same storm as another event listed for this year. This or another fleet returned from Bermuda toward Europe after 24 August. That fleet lost 20 ships to a storm or storms, mainly on 1–10 September. Five of the ships in that fleet hosted 387 crew members; however, uncertainty remains regarding how many of them and others perished and survived.[81]

This event may continue the same storm as another event listed for this year.

1591 end August/early September off Azores Sir Richard Grenville commanded English ship Revenge (1577) alone against 53 Spanish warships under Alonso de Bazán in Battle of Flores (1591) on the night of 30/31 August. The Spanish armada finally defeated him in the morning and took the English survivors aboard their damaged ships as prisoners of war. Sir Richard Grenville died of his wounds three days later, and his body underwent burial at sea. The winds of a terrible hurricane then arose and wrecked allegedly "over a hundred" Spanish galleons, merchant ships, warships, and other vessels in this fleet and the arriving remnant of the Spanish treasure fleet. The storm drowned their crews and lost their riches to the Iberian Union. The remnant of the captured English warship Revenge ran into the cliffs of Terceira Island. English writer Richard Hakluyt attributes the storm to divine revenge against the Catholic fleet for the death of Sir Grenville. He continues, "For 20 days after the storm they did nothing but fish for dead men that continually came driving on the shore." [122][123] This event may continue the same storm as another event listed for this year.
1591 September 6 Azores Within sight of Flores Island (Azores), another gale separated the fleet, and only 25 or 26 sailboats from the Caribbean ultimately reached Spain.[117] This storm likely matches the account in the preceding entry.
1591 September 21 Puerto Rico [34]
1591 September 24 Cuba [34]
1591 September Florida Landfall near Dry Tortugas.[34][94]
1591 unknown coastal Florida A fleet of 75 to 77 ships left Havana on 27 June. On orders of Philip II of Spain, king of Iberian Union, the mariners left his registered treasure in Havana for safe travel to Spain aboard small, fast zabras. In encounters with storms, the fleet lost at least 29 ships, many off coast of Florida. The terrible storms left Iberian Union with few ships to send to the Indies in 1592.[65][124] This entry likely matches that of other storms this year.
1591 unknown at sea Spanish lost a carrack (nao in Spanish) somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean or Caribbean Sea.[21] Tropical cyclone status in doubt. Alternatively, this storm may continue another storm of this season.
1593 July ~25 [O.S. July ~15] Puerto Rico A storm passed the seas north of the island.[125][126]
1594 unknown Caribbean Sea One ship lost on its way from Panama to the Lesser Antilles.[127]
1594 unknown Hispaniola made landfall near Santo Domingo.[34]
1594 unknown Cuba made landfall near Havana.[34]
1595 August 29–30 Cuba made landfall near Havana.[34]
1597 ~September–November Jamaica Morales Padrón reported a hurricane.[128]
1599 ~June/July Bahamas This hurricane struck Hernando del Castillo near Great Inagua Island.[129]
1599 September 22 Florida made landfall near St. Augustine, Florida.[94]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]