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Tropical Depression One (1979)

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Tropical Depression One
Tropical depression (SSHWS/NWS)
TD2 12 jun 1979 1500Z.JPG
Tropical Depression One on June 12
Formed June 11, 1979
Dissipated June 16, 1979
Highest winds 1-minute sustained: 35 mph (55 km/h)
Lowest pressure 1005 mbar (hPa); 29.68 inHg
Fatalities 41
Damage $27 million (1979 USD)
Areas affected Bahamas, Cuba, East Coast of the United States, and Jamaica
Part of the 1979 Atlantic hurricane season

Tropical Depression One brought severe flooding to Jamaica in June 1979. The second tropical cyclone of the Atlantic hurricane season, the depression developed from a tropical wave to the south of Grand Cayman on June 11. Tracking generally northward, the depression passed west of Jamaica. On June 12, the depression peaked with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 km/h), never having reached tropical storm status. The following day, it made landfall in Cuba, where minimal impact was recorded. Early on June 14, the depression emerged into the western Atlantic Ocean and then moved parallel to the east coast of Florida for a few days. The depression made another landfall in South Carolina on June 16 and dissipated shortly thereafter.

The slow movement of the depression to the west of Jamaica resulted in torrential rainfall, peaking at 32 in (810 mm) in Friendship, a city in Westmoreland Parish. Throughout western Jamaica, about 1,000 homes were destroyed or severely damaged, while up to 40,000 people were left homeless. The city of New Market was submerged for at least six months. Crops, electricity, telephones, buildings, and railways also suffered damage during the disaster. There were 40 deaths and approximately $27 million (1979 USD) in damage. The depression also brought heavy precipitation to Cuba and the Bahamas, while farther north, light rainfall and rough seas plagued the East Coast of the United States. One individual in South Carolina went missing and was later presumed to have died after their boat was torn loose from its mooring.

Meteorological history[edit]

Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale

A tropical wave emerged into the Atlantic Ocean from the west coast of Africa on May 30. Minimal development occurred as the wave tracked westward across much of the Atlantic and Caribbean Sea. However, by June 11, the system began to interact with a stationary trough of low pressure in the western Caribbean Sea.[1] Based on ship and land observations,[2] a tropical depression developed at 12:00 UTC that day while located about 230 miles (370 km) south of Grand Cayman.[3] Initially the depression was forecast to move northwestward at about 5 mph (8 km/h);[2] instead, it drifted to the northeast.[3] Minimal intensification occurred, as satellite imagery, weather stations, and a reconnaissance aircraft indicated the depression remained below tropical storm status.[4][5] Around 18:00 UTC on June 12, the depression attained its maximum sustained wind speeds of 35 mph (55 km/h).[3]

Early on June 13, satellite and weather radar showed heavy rainbands moving across Jamaica and eastern Cuba.[6] Due its interaction with the two islands, the depression weakened slightly.[7] Later on June 13, the storm made landfall near Venezuela, Cuba with winds of 30 mph (45 km/h). Moving northward, it emerged into the Atlantic Ocean near Cayo Santa María early the next day. Around 12:00 UTC on June 14, the system re-strengthened and again attained its maximum sustained wind speed of 35 mph (55 km/h). Despite moving back over open waters, the depression failed to intensify further. Operationally, the system was thought to have made landfall in east-central Florida, but later analysis revealed that the center remained over water. The depression continued northward until striking near Charleston, South Carolina late on June 16, still with the same intensity. It degenerated into a remnant low pressure area about six hours later.[3] Its remnants continued northeastward across the Southeastern United States, the Mid-Atlantic, and New England until dissipating fully on June 18.[1]

Impact[edit]

Rainfall totals in the United States

The depression's slow movement resulted in torrential rainfall on the island of Jamaica. Precipitation peaked at 32 inches (810 mm) in Friendship, located in Westmoreland Parish.[8] As the flooding began, several shelters were open in the parish.[9] Residents in the Savanna-la-Mar area were forced to evacuate by boats or makeshift rafts.[10] The flooding also ruined crops. Sugar cane, which was already 70–80 percent harvested, suffered about $2.25 million (1979 USD) in damage. It was estimated that 4 million lb (1.8 million kg) of bananas were lost, worth nearly $1 million. In total, agricultural interests incurred $5.89 million in damage, chiefly f which was in Westmoreland Parish. The storm affected an estimated 300 mi (480 km) of roadways impacted, with about 2,000 ft (610 m) of highway completely washed out. Three bridges collapsed, while 10 others sustained damage.[11]

The increasing height and volume of the Bluefields River led to debris flow and created a colluvium – an unconsolidated deposit of sediments – near the mouth of the river. In the valley areas, temporary lakes were formed and small dams were overtopped.[12] The cities of Chigwell, Enfield, Exeter, Leamington, and New Market were all submerged during the flooding. New Market was inundated with as much as 80 ft (24 m) of water during the disaster,[13] which did not completely recede until more than six months later.[10] This resulted in extreme damage to or complete loss of crops, livestock, and household possessions.[10] Extensive impact to property was reported, including to electricity, telephones, buildings, and railways, with a "conservative" estimate of $39.3 million in damage. At least 1,000 homes were severely damaged or destroyed.[11] As many as 40,000 people were left homeless.[9] Overall, there were 40 deaths and approximately $27 million in damage.[14]

Following the storm, Hanover, Saint Elizabeth, Saint James, and Westmoreland parishes were considered disaster areas.[11] A task force was established by the Prime Minister Michael Manley for reconstruction efforts.[13] About 7,758 families, a total of 36,391 people, required assistance with food supplies for over 13 weeks. The Housing Task Force called for the construction of 582 new houses, 300 of which for those left homeless. The houses constructed for the people rendered homeless were prefabricated by the Ministry of Housing and then erected by the local authorities, under the guidance of the Ministry of Local Government.[15] In response to the disaster, the Government of Jamaica established the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management in July 1980.[16]

The depression and its remnants also brought rainfall and high tides to the eastern United States. In South Carolina, precipitation peaked at 6.89 in (175 mm) in Cheraw.[1] Along the coast, waves reached 13 ft (4.0 m) in height, strong enough to tear a boat from its mooring at Surfside Beach. One person was listed as missing and later presumed to have died.[17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c David M. Roth (March 6, 2013). Tropical Depression One – June 13-18, 1979. Weather Prediction Center (Report). College Park, Maryland: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved May 23, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Paul J. Hebert (June 11, 1979). Tropical Depression Advisory. National Hurricane Center (Report). Miami, Florida: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved May 23, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Atlantic hurricane best track (HURDAT version 2)". Hurricane Research Division (Database). National Hurricane Center. May 1, 2018. Retrieved September 18, 2018. 
  4. ^ Paul J. Hebert (June 11, 1979). Tropical Depression Advisory. National Hurricane Center (Report). Miami, Florida: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved May 23, 2014. 
  5. ^ Paul J. Hebert (June 11, 1979). Tropical Depression Advisory. National Hurricane Center (Report). Miami, Florida: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved May 23, 2014. 
  6. ^ Paul J. Hebert (June 13, 1979). Tropical Depression Advisory. National Hurricane Center (Report). Miami, Florida: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved May 23, 2014. 
  7. ^ Paul J. Hebert (June 13, 1979). Tropical Depression Advisory. National Hurricane Center (Report). Miami, Florida: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved May 23, 2014. 
  8. ^ Paul J. Hebert (July 1980). 4. Other significant systems (PDF). National Hurricane Center (Report). Miami, Florida: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory. p. 990. Retrieved May 23, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b 1.1 The Floods (PDF) (Report). Mona, Jamaica: University of the West Indies. p. 50. Retrieved May 23, 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c 2.2 Hazard Analysis (PDF). United States Agency for International Development (Report). Washington, D.C.: United States Department of State. 1983. p. 14. Retrieved May 23, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b c Economic Impact. Meteorological Service of Jamaica (Report). Kingston, Jamaica: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; National Hurricane Center. 1979. p. 10. Retrieved May 23, 2014. 
  12. ^ William Patrick Dryer (July 2010). Catastrophic Valley Entrenchment And Debris Fan Formation In The Bluefields River, Westmoreland, Jamaica (PDF) (Report). Springfield, Missouri: Missouri State University. p. 2. Retrieved May 23, 2014. 
  13. ^ a b Reconstruction Programme For Flood Damage In Western Jamaica Consequent On June 12 Flood Rains (PDF). Government of Jamaica (Report). Kingston, Jamaica: National Library of Jamaica. p. 1. Retrieved May 23, 2014. 
  14. ^ Ronald Jackson (January 25, 2005). Managing Natural Hazards In Jamaica (Report). Kingston, Jamaica: Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management. Archived from the original on May 15, 2008. Retrieved May 23, 2014. 
  15. ^ Report on Relief Operations Consequent on the June, 1979 floods in Western Jamaica (PDF). Government of Jamaica (Report). Kingston, Jamaica: National Library of Jamaica. pp. 1–2. Retrieved May 23, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Who We Are". Kingston, Jamaica: Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management. Retrieved May 23, 2014. 
  17. ^ Storm Data and Unusual Weather Phenomena: June 1979 (PDF). National Climatic Data Center (Report). Asheville, North Carolina: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 1979. p. 18. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 1, 2014. Retrieved September 1, 2014. 

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