1929 Bahamas hurricane
|Category 4 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)|
|Formed||September 22, 1929|
|Dissipated||October 4, 1929|
|Highest winds||1-minute sustained: 155 mph (250 km/h) |
|Lowest pressure||924 mbar (hPa); 27.29 inHg|
|Fatalities||51 direct |
|Damage||$676,000 (1929 USD)|
|Areas affected||Bahamas, Florida, Georgia, Carolinas|
|Part of the 1929 Atlantic hurricane season|
The 1929 Bahamas Hurricane (also known as the Great Andros Island Hurricane) was the second hurricane and the only major hurricane during the very inactive 1929 Atlantic hurricane season. The hurricane was the only hurricane to cause any significant damage, resulting in $676,000 (1929 USD, $7.3 million 2005 USD) in damage. Only a year after the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane, the hurricane caused only three deaths in southern Florida, a low number due to well-executed warnings. The hurricane was much more severe in the Bahamas, where damage was near extreme due to the hurricane stalling over the area for an extended period of time. There, the hurricane caused 48 deaths.
A tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa on September 11. It moved across the Atlantic Ocean and passed the northern Leeward Islands before being detected as a tropical storm on the 22nd. The storm then moved westward and became a Category 1 hurricane on September 23. It continued to intensify, becoming a Category 3 hurricane on September 24 as it passed through the northern Bahamas. Due to higher pressures to the north, the hurricane drifted to the southwest, causing the hurricane to strike near Nassau on the 26th as it reached its peak of 155 mph (249 km/h).
While drifting westward through the Bahamas, the hurricane weakened, and struck extreme southern Florida as a Category 3 hurricane on September 28. The hurricane turned to the northwest, and continued to weaken until making landfall in the Florida Panhandle as a tropical storm on the September 30. The storm turned to the northeast, and became extratropical over South Carolina on October 2. The extratropical storm persisted for two more days, moving through the eastern United States before losing its identity over eastern New Brunswick.
Fearing a repeat of the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane, weather officials issued hurricane warnings in the Bahamas and south Florida. On September 24, hurricane warnings were issued for the Bahamas and areas from Florida to South Carolina, on the 25th, the warnings was extended to the Florida Keys as the storm turned to the southwest. More warnings were issued hours before the hurricane made landfall in south Florida. Weather officials also issued warnings for the Florida Panhandle before the storm made landfall as a tropical storm.
Although a strong tropical cyclone, the hurricane caused little damage and only three deaths in Florida, a sharp contrast to the Okeechobee Hurricane a year earlier; by contrast, however, damage was very severe in the Bahamas. In Cuba, the hurricane brought rough seas and dark cloud cover.
A weather station in Nassau recorded an unofficial pressure reading of 938 mbar (27.64 inHg). The weather station also recorded a wind gust of 164 mph (264 km/h). According to the Associated Press, the hurricane's 12 feet (3.7 meters) storm surge flooded a road and damaged a seawall, while property damage was severe. In Fresh Creek, the hurricane destroyed six houses and damaged ten others. It also damaged a communications station, disrupting telegraph service. Ten deaths were reported on Andros Island, and according to press reports, 24 people were declared missing. Elsewhere in the Bahamas, the hurricane damaged or destroyed 63 homes and buildings brought flash flooding that left Andros Island under 20 feet (6.1 meters) of water. Offshore, a steamship was run aground near Abaco Island, while a tanker broke in two near Andros Island. Eight sailors perished when their 18-foot schooner sank during the storm. In Fresh Creek, four small boats sank near the Andros Lighthouse, drowning more than 20 sailors. Lord Baden-Powell arrived in the Bahamas at the Prince George Wharf in February 1930. On that occasion, Gordon O'Brien was presented with the Bronze Cross (the highest award for gallantry in Scouting) for his part in rescuing twelve women and children from a ship in distress during the hurricane of September, 1929.
A 150 mph (240 km/h) wind gust was recorded near Key Largo and a barometric pressure reading of 989 mbar (29.21 inHg) was recorded in Key West, and a reading of 954 mbar (28.18 inHg) was recorded at Long Key. Storm surges estimated at 6 to 9 feet at Garden Cove. Railroad service out for a week. Sections of the overseas highway were washed out as far as Big Pine Key. The Coast Guard had to provide mail service for Key West.  Exact damage figures in the Florida Keys are unavailable.
In Miami, a reading of 998 mbar (29.41 inHg) reading was recorded as the hurricane made landfall, and wind speeds between 90 and 100 mph (140 and 160 km/h) were recorded in Everglades City. The hurricane spawned three tornadoes that touched down in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and two other towns, with the Fort Lauderdale tornado being most destructive. The tornado damaged a four-story hotel, a railway office building and several cottages before dissipating 30 minutes after its formation. In southwestern Florida, there was damage to orange and grapefruit crops. Three people were killed after ignoring warnings and trying to ride out the storm.
Damage in the Florida Panhandle was moderate. The storm surge destroyed several wharves and damaged most of the oyster and fishing warehouses and canning plants. The storm tide also damaged part of the Gulf Coast Highway, and left minimal damage to trees, homes and businesses. Throughout Florida, the hurricane caused 3 deaths and $676,000 in damage.
A weather station in Georgia reported a barometric pressure reading of 29.12 inches of mercury (986 mb). However, there were few reports of damage and no reports of deaths when the extratropical remnants of the hurricane traveled up the East Coast of the United States. In Maine, heavy rains up to 2 inches (51 mm) flooded storm cellars and broke a prolonged dry spell in the state, though damage was minimal.
In the Bahamas, the hurricane destroyed the Ministry of Education mansion in Nassau which was shortly rebuilt after the storm. Offshore, the wreckage of a steamship that sank during the storm was blown up because it was a hazard to shipping. In Florida, the damage from the hurricane knocked out rail service for a week. The United States Coast Guard provided mail service to Key West, an area hit hard by the hurricane.
In popular culture
The tragic impact of the hurricane on the Bahamas was immortalized by the influential calypso singer "Blind Blake" Higgs in his often-covered folk ballad "Run, Come See, Jerusalem."
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