1831 Barbados–Louisiana hurricane

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Great Barbados hurricane
Category 4 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Formed before August 10, 1831 (1831-08-10)
Dissipated after August 17, 1831 (1831-08-18)
Highest winds 1-minute sustained: 130 mph (215 km/h)
Fatalities c. 2,500
Damage $7 million (1831 USD)
Areas affected Barbados, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Louisiana
Part of the 1831 Atlantic hurricane season

The Great Barbados hurricane was an intense Category 4 hurricane that left cataclysmic damage across the Caribbean and Louisiana in 1831.[1]

A possible Cape Verde hurricane, the storm slammed into Barbados, leveling the capital of Bridgetown on August 10. Some 1,500 people perished, either drowned by the 17-foot (5.2 m) storm surge that the hurricane brought or crushed beneath collapsed buildings (including the St. John's Parish Church, Barbados).[1] It produced great damage in Saint Vincent and Saint Lucia, and slightly touched Martinique.

On August 12, it arrived Puerto Rico. Moving past Haiti and Cuba, it nearly destroyed the town of Les Cayes and damaged Santiago de Cuba, and then crossed the entire length of Cuba, passing Havannah on August 14 (Hurricane Georges of 1998 had a similar track). Its estimated Category 4 winds brought ships ashore at Guantanamo Bay, causing mudslides, and resulted in major structural damage.

It turned to the northwest, where it made landfall near Last Island, Louisiana as a Category 3 hurricane on August 17. There it flooded parts of New Orleans from its 7-to-10-foot (2.1 to 3.0 m) storm surge in Lake Pontchartrain and also causing hail. The back part of the city of New Orleans was completely inundated. It was simultaneously felt at Pensacola, Florida and Mobile, Alabama, and extended to Natchez, Mississippi 300 miles (480 km) up the Mississippi river. Its duration was six days from the time it commenced in Barbados and its course cycloidal; the distance passed over by the storm from Barbados to New Orleans is 2,100 nautical miles (3,900 km), and the average rate of its progress fourteen miles (21 km) an hour.

"1831. Bermudians were amazed to see, on August 11, 12 and 13, the sun with a decidedly blue appearance, giving off an eerie blue light when it shone into rooms and other enclosed places. Ships at sea as far west as Cape Hatteras reported that "their white sails appeared a light blue colour." A month later it was learned that the astounding blue sunlight had coincided with a terrible hurricane that caused 1,477 people to lose their lives. It was assumed that the hurricane was intensive enough to cause unusual disturbance in the higher atmospheric strata, and refraction, diffraction or absorption of light rays, to cause the blue reflection." [2]

The Great Barbados Hurricane left 2,500 people dead and $7 million (1831 dollars) in damage. Ludlum (1963) wrote: “It was one of the great hurricanes of the century, or any century.”

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Levy, Claude (1959). "Barbados: The Last Years of Slavery 1823-1833". Journal of Negro History. 44 (4): 308–345. doi:10.2307/2716613. 
  • Longshore, David (1998). "Great Caribbean Hurricane of 1831". In David Longshore. Encyclopedia of Hurricanes, Typhoons and Cyclones. New York: Facts on File. p. 145. ISBN 0-8160-3398-6. 
  • Ludlum, David M. (1963). Early American Hurricanes: 1492-1870. Boston: American Meteorological Society. pp. 140–142. 

References[edit]