1974 Atlantic hurricane season

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1974 Atlantic hurricane season
Season summary map
First system formed June 22, 1974
Last system dissipated November 12, 1974
Strongest storm1 Carmen – 928 mbar (hPa) (27.4 inHg), 150 mph (240 km/h) (1-minute sustained)
Total depressions 21
Total storms 11
Hurricanes 4
Major hurricanes (Cat. 3+) 2
Total fatalities ≥8,270
Total damage $2 billion (1974 USD)
1Strongest storm is determined by lowest pressure
Atlantic hurricane seasons
1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976
Related article

The 1974 Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 1, 1974, and lasted until November 30, 1974. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. The season had near average activity, with eleven total storms and four hurricanes forming.

The most notable storms of the season were Hurricane Carmen, which made landfall on the Yucatán Peninsula and in Louisiana, causing at least $150 million (1974 US dollars) in damages; and Hurricane Fifi, which killed 8,000 people as it skimmed along the northern coast of Honduras. Hurricane Fifi crossed over into the eastern pacific and was renamed Orlene.


The season's activity was reflected with a cumulative accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) rating of 61.[1] ACE is, broadly speaking, a measure of the power of the hurricane multiplied by the length of time it existed, so storms that last a long time, as well as particularly strong hurricanes, have high ACEs. ACE is only calculated for full advisories on tropical systems at or exceeding 34 knots (39 mph, 63 km/h) or tropical storm strength.[2]

Tropical Depression One[edit]

Tropical depression (SSHWS)
Duration June 22 – June 26
Peak intensity 30 mph (45 km/h) (1-min)  995 mbar (hPa)

On June 22, a tropical depression formed. The depression eventually became Subtropical Storm One on June 24. It remained weak and dissipated on June 26.

Subtropical Storm One[edit]

Subtropical storm (SSHWS)
Duration June 22 – June 25
Peak intensity 65 mph (100 km/h) (1-min)  1000 mbar (hPa)

A tropical depression formed over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico on June 22. It was classified as Tropical Depression One. As the depression moved southwestward, convection began to fire well northeast of the center forming a new cyclone by June 24. Convection over the new system was poorly organized, and it became a subtropical depression late on June 24. It strengthened into a subtropical storm on June 25 with its winds far away from the center. It crossed Florida that day, but that night, it became more frontal in character. It lost what tropical characteristics it had on June 25.

Subtropical Storm One caused three drowning deaths and $10 million in damage ($42 million in 2005 USD) when it passed over central Florida. Tropical Depression One and Subtropical Storm One are actually the same storm, but JTWC classified them as 2 separate systems.

Tropical Depression Two[edit]

Tropical depression (SSHWS)
Duration July 13 – July 17
Peak intensity 35 mph (55 km/h) (1-min)  1011 mbar (hPa)

On July 13, a tropical depression formed. It remained weak and dissipated on July 17.

Subtropical Storm Two[edit]

Subtropical storm (SSHWS)
Duration July 16 – July 19
Peak intensity 50 mph (85 km/h) (1-min)  1006 mbar (hPa)

A convective area of cloudiness existed northeast of the Bahamas in mid July in response to a stationary frontal boundary. A subtropical depression formed on July 16, and it became Subtropical Storm Two on July 17. As it moved northeastward it gradually became absorbed by a large extratropical low pressure system, with the system dissipating on July 20.

Tropical Depression Three[edit]

Tropical depression (SSHWS)
Duration July 31 – August 2
Peak intensity 35 mph (55 km/h) (1-min)  1008 mbar (hPa)

On July 31, a tropical depression formed. It remained weak and dissipated on August 2.

Subtropical Storm Three[edit]

Subtropical storm (SSHWS)
Duration August 10 – August 15
Peak intensity 60 mph (95 km/h) (1-min)  992 mbar (hPa)

Subtropical Storm Three formed from a frontal wave on August 10, located 300 mi (480 km) south of Cape Cod. The storm moved southeastward, followed by a north, then northeast motion. The storm reached its peak of 60 mph (97 km/h) late in its life, just prior to being absorbed by a frontal boundary on August 15.

Tropical Storm Alma[edit]

Tropical storm (SSHWS)
Duration August 12 – August 15
Peak intensity 65 mph (100 km/h) (1-min)  1007 mbar (hPa)

The tropical depression that became Tropical Storm Alma formed from an Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) disturbance on August 12 over the southern tropical Atlantic. It moved steadily westward, reaching a peak of 65 mph (105 km/h) on the way. It crossed the island of Trinidad, the southernmost track of a Trinidad hit since 1933. On August 15, it moved into northern Venezuela, and the high mountain tops destroyed the circulation.

Alma was responsible for two fatalities on Trinidad as well the crash of a passenger aircraft on Isla de Margarita, off the coast of Venezuela, that killed 47 people.

Tropical Depression Five[edit]

Tropical depression (SSHWS)
Duration August 24 – August 26
Peak intensity 35 mph (55 km/h) (1-min)  1006 mbar (hPa)

On August 24, a tropical depression formed. It remained weak and dissipated on August 26.

A sprawling system, the depression brought light to moderate rainfall to much of Texas leading to minor flooding. In Wink, more than 1.5 in (38 mm) fell in six hours.[3]

Hurricane Becky[edit]

Category 3 hurricane (SSHWS)
Duration August 26 – September 2
Peak intensity 115 mph (185 km/h) (1-min)  977 mbar (hPa)

Hurricane Becky formed from an area of showers and thunderstorms on August 26, located to the southwest of Bermuda. It moved northeastward, where it reached its peak of 115 mph (185 km/h). As it approached unfavorable conditions, Becky fell apart, dissipating on September 2.

Hurricane Carmen[edit]

Category 4 hurricane (SSHWS)
Duration August 29 – September 10
Peak intensity 150 mph (240 km/h) (1-min)  928 mbar (hPa)
Main article: Hurricane Carmen

A destructive and widespread storm, Carmen originated as a tropical disturbance that emerged from Africa toward the end of August. The wave traveled westward,[4] spawning a tropical depression east of the Lesser Antilles on August 29. The storm moved through the Caribbean, and in an environment conducive to intensification, it quickly strengthened to its initial peak intensity as a Category 4 hurricane.[5][6] Subsequently, it moved ashore on the Yucatán Peninsula where, despite being in a sparsely populated region, the hurricane caused significant crop damage and killed several people.[7] Prior to the storm, officials set up several evacuation centers, and many residents moved to higher ground.[8]

Upon entering the Gulf of Mexico, Carmen turned northward and re-intensified as it approached the United States. Initially threatening the major city of New Orleans, it veered westward and made landfall again over the marshland of southern Louisiana, eventually dissipating over eastern Texas on September 10.[5] Coinciding with the issuance of tropical cyclone watches and warnings, approximately 100,000 residents left their homes and sought shelter.[9] Damage was lighter than first feared, but the sugar crop suffered substantial losses.[5][10]

Tropical Depression Eight[edit]

Tropical depression (SSHWS)
Duration September 2 – September 11
Peak intensity 35 mph (55 km/h) (1-min)  1012 mbar (hPa)

On September 2, a tropical depression formed. It was long lasting and dissipated on September 11.

Tropical Storm Dolly[edit]

Tropical storm (SSHWS)
Duration September 2 – September 5
Peak intensity 50 mph (85 km/h) (1-min)  1000 mbar (hPa)

Dolly developed from a cloud system over the central north Atlantic on September 2. The next day it became a tropical storm, but as the storm moved quickly to the northeast, it encountered cool, dry air, dissipating on September 5.

Tropical Storm Elaine[edit]

Tropical storm (SSHWS)
Duration September 4 – September 13
Peak intensity 70 mph (110 km/h) (1-min)  1001 mbar (hPa)

The tropical depression that became Tropical Storm Elaine formed from a tropical wave on September 4 about 600 mi (970 km) east of the Lesser Antilles. The depression moved northwestward for five days without strengthening, but on September 9 it moved under a favorable upper-level anticyclone, letting the depression strengthen to tropical storm strength. Elaine reached its peak of 70 mph (110 km/h) under these favorable conditions, but as they became unfavorable, Elaine weakened, becoming extratropical on September 14.

Hurricane Fifi[edit]

Category 2 hurricane (SSHWS)
Duration September 14 – September 22
Peak intensity 110 mph (175 km/h) (1-min)  970 mbar (hPa)

On September 8, a well-defined tropical wave emerged off the west coast of Africa into the Atlantic Ocean. Over the following five days, no development took place and the wave later entered the Caribbean on September 13.[11] The following day, the system developed into a tropical depression as it steadily tracked west-northwestward.[6] On September 16, the depression intensified into Tropical Storm Fifi just off the coast of Jamaica. The storm quickly intensified into a hurricane the following afternoon and attained its peak intensity on September 18 as a strong Category 2 hurricane. Maintaining hurricane intensity, Fifi brushed the northern coast of Honduras before making landfall in Belize the following day. The storm quickly weakened after landfall, becoming a depression late on September 20. Continuing westward, the former hurricane began to interact with another system in the eastern Pacific.[11]

Early on September 22, Fifi re-attained tropical storm status before fully regenerating into a new tropical cyclone, Tropical Storm Orlene.[12] Orlene traveled in an arcuate path toward Mexico while quickly intensifying into a Category 2 hurricane before landfall. The storm weakened after landfall and dissipated fully during the afternoon of September 24 over the mountains of Mexico.[6][11] Along its path, Fifi impacted nine countries, leaving over 8,000 fatalities and $1.8 billion in damage.[13][14] Most of the loss of life and damage occurred in Honduras where extreme rainfall from the hurricane triggered widespread flash flooding and mudslides.[5]

Tropical Depression Twelve[edit]

Tropical depression (SSHWS)
Counterclockwise vortex
Duration September 18 – September 20
Peak intensity 30 mph (45 km/h) (1-min)  1013 mbar (hPa)

Formed September 18 and dissipated September 20.

Tropical Depression Thirteen[edit]

Tropical depression (SSHWS)
Duration September 23 – September 27
Peak intensity 35 mph (55 km/h) (1-min)  1005 mbar (hPa)

Formed September 23 and dissipated September 27.

Hurricane Gertrude[edit]

Category 1 hurricane (SSHWS)
Duration September 27 – October 4
Peak intensity 75 mph (120 km/h) (1-min)  999 mbar (hPa)

Hurricane Gertrude developed from an Intertropical Convergence Zone disturbance on September 28, located east of the Lesser Antilles. As it approached the islands, it rapidly strengthened to a tropical storm late on September 28, and to a hurricane six hours later. Prior to reaching the islands, the convection was sheared from the center, leaving behind a minimal tropical storm as it passed through the Lesser Antilles on October 2. The system dissipated on October 4 over the southeastern Caribbean.

Subtropical Storm Four[edit]

Subtropical storm (SSHWS)
Duration October 4 – October 8
Peak intensity 50 mph (85 km/h) (1-min)  1005 mbar (hPa)

The subtropical depression that became Subtropical Storm Four developed from a stationary cold front on October 4 near the east coast of Cuba. It moved northwestward, strengthening to subtropical storm force winds, and brushing the east coast of Florida. The storm moved out to sea, merging with a cold front on October 9 after becoming extratropical on October 8.

Tropical Depression Seventeen[edit]

Tropical depression (SSHWS)
Counterclockwise vortex
Duration November 10 – November 12
Peak intensity 30 mph (45 km/h) (1-min)  1003 mbar (hPa)

Formed November 10 and dissipated November 12.

Season Effects[edit]

This is a table of all of the storms that formed in the 1974 Atlantic hurricane season. It includes their duration, names, landfall(s) – denoted by bold location names – damages, and death totals. Deaths in parentheses will be additional and indirect (an example of an indirect death would be a traffic accident), but are still related to that storm. Damage and deaths will include totals while the storm was extratropical or a wave or low, and all of the damage figures are in 1974 USD.

Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale
TD TS C1 C2 C3 C4 C5
1974 North Atlantic tropical cyclone statistics
Dates active Storm category

at peak intensity

Max 1-min
mph (km/h)
Areas affected Damage
(millions USD)

Depression May 19 – 20 Tropical depression 30 (45) N/A Central America (Belize), Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica, United States Gulf Coast N/A 0
Depression June 2 – 5 Tropical depression N/A N/A None None 0
One June 22 – 26 Tropical depression 35 (55) 1000 Mexico (Campeche), Southeastern United States (Florida) N/A 0
One June 24 – 25 Subtropical storm 65 (100) 1000 Southeastern United States (Florida) 10 3
Two July 13 – 17 Tropical depression N/A N/A United States Gulf Coast (Texas) N/A 0
Two July 14 – 19 Subtropical storm 50 (85) 1006 None None 0
Three July 31 – August 2 Tropical depression N/A N/A None None 0
Three August 10 – 15 Subtropical storm 60 (95) 992 None None 0
Alma August 12 – 15 Tropical storm 65 (100) 1007 Windward Islands (Trinidad), Venezuela, Netherlands Antilles, Colombia N/A 49
Depression August 13 – 16 Tropical depression N/A N/A None None 0
Depression August 14 – 16 Tropical depression N/A N/A None None 0
Five August 24 – 26 Tropical depression 35 (55) N/A United States Gulf Coast (Texas) N/A 0
Becky August 26 – September 2 Category 3 hurricane 115 (185) 977 None None 0
Carmen August 29 – September 10 Category 4 hurricane 150 (240) 928 Lesser Antilles, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Mexico (Quintana Roo), Belize, Southern United States (Louisiana) 162 8
Eight September 2 – 11 Tropical depression 35 (55) N/A Leeward Islands, Bahamas N/A 0
Dolly September 2 – 5 Tropical storm 50 (85) 1005 None None 0
Elaine September 2 – 5 Tropical storm 70 (110) 1001 None None 0
Fifi September 14 – 22 Category 2 hurricane 110 (175) 971 Hispaniola, Jamaica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Belize, Guatemala, Mexico 1,800 ≥8,210
Twelve September 18 – 20 Tropical depression 30 (45) N/A Bermuda N/A 0
Thirteen September 23 – 27 Tropical depression 35 (55) N/A Mexico, Southeastern United States (Florida) N/A 0
Gertrude September 25 – October 4 Category 1 hurricane 75 (120) 999 Windward Islands N/A 0
Four October 4 – October 8 Subtropical storm 50 (85) 1006 Cuba, Bahamas, Florida N/A 0
Depression October 14 – October 20 Tropical depression N/A N/A None None 0
Sixteen October 30 – November 2 Tropical depression 30 (45) N/A None None 0
Seventeen November 10 – November 12 Tropical depression 30 (45) N/A None None 0
Season Aggregates
25 cyclones May 19 – November 12   150 (240) 928 1,972 ≥8,270

Storm names[edit]

The following names were used for named storms (tropical storms and hurricanes) that formed in the North Atlantic in 1974.[15] Storms were named Carmen, Elaine and Gertrude for the first time in 1974. Names that were not assigned are marked in gray.

  • Hester (unused)
  • Ivy (unused)
  • Justine (unused)
  • Kathy (unused)
  • Linda (unused)
  • Marsha (unused)
  • Nelly (unused)
  • Olga (unused)
  • Pearl (unused)
  • Roxanne (unused)
  • Sabrina (unused)
  • Thelma (unused)
  • Viola (unused)
  • Wilma (unused)


The names Carmen and Fifi were later retired. As the list was changed in 1979, no names replaced Carmen and Fifi. Alma was used in the Pacific until 2008 when it was retired. The name Amanda replaced Alma in the Pacific.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hurricane Research Division (March 2011). "Atlantic basin Comparison of Original and Revised HURDAT". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2011-07-23. 
  2. ^ David Levinson (2008-08-20). "2005 Atlantic Ocean Tropical Cyclones". National Climatic Data Center. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-23. 
  3. ^ Unattributed (August 26, 1974). "Rains Dot West; Floods Hit Texas". The Evening Independent. Associated Press. p. 2A. Retrieved August 15, 2011. 
  4. ^ Owen E. Thompson; Miller, Joanna (May 1976). "Hurricane Carmen: August–September 1974—Development of a Wave in the ITCZ" (PDF). Monthly Weather Review (American Meteorological Society) 104 (5): 656–658. Bibcode:1976MWRv..104..656T. doi:10.1175/1520-0493(1976)104<0656:HCAOAW>2.0.CO;2. ISSN 1520-0493. Retrieved April 25, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c d John R. Hope and Neil L. Frank (April 1975). "Atlantic Hurricane Season of 1974" (PDF). Monthly Weather Review (American Meteorological Society) 103 (4): 285–300. Bibcode:1975MWRv..103..285H. doi:10.1175/1520-0493(1975)103<0285:AHSO>2.0.CO;2. Archived (PDF) from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved July 21, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c Hurricane Specialists Unit (2011). "Atlantic Best Tracks, 1851 to 2010". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved July 19, 2011. 
  7. ^ United Press International (September 6, 1974). "Hurricane Gathers Strength In Gulf". Beaver Country Times. Retrieved April 25, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Hurricane Grows, Yucatan Target of Carmen". The Victoria Advocate. Associated Press. September 2, 1974. Retrieved April 25, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Carmen lashes coast". The Chicago Tribune. September 8, 1974. Retrieved April 25, 2010. 
  10. ^ United Press International (September 9, 1974). "Hurricane Carmen hurts sugar crop". The Lodi News-Sentinel. Retrieved April 25, 2010. 
  11. ^ a b c "Preliminary Report: Hurricane Fifi". National Hurricane Center. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 1975. p. 1. Retrieved July 19, 2011. 
  12. ^ Sharon Towry (June 1975). "Eastern North Pacific Tropical Cyclones in 1974: Part 2" (PDF). Monthly Weather Review (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) 103 (6): 550–559. Bibcode:1975MWRv..103..550T. doi:10.1175/1520-0493(1975)103<0550:ENPTCP>2.0.CO;2. Retrieved July 19, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Aid Efforts Start For Honduras, Fifi Deaths Soar". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. September 24, 1974. p. 7. Retrieved March 17, 2014. 
  14. ^ Edward N. Rappaport and Jose Fernandez-Partagas (May 28, 1995). "The Deadliest Atlantic Tropical Cyclones, 1492–1996". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Archived from the original on 28 June 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Coastal States, Beware of Alma". Associated Press. 1974-05-07. Retrieved 2007-12-01. 

External links[edit]