Great Hurricane of 1780

Great Hurricane of 1780

Infobox Hurricane
Name=Great Hurricane of 1780
Image location=Great Hurricane (1780) areas affected.jpg

Formed=October 9, 1780
Dissipated=October 20, 1780

Fatalities=22,000+ direct
Fatalitiespost=Deadliest Atlantic hurricane of all time
Areas=Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Bermuda, possibly Florida
Hurricane season=1780 Atlantic hurricane season
The Great Hurricane of 1780, also known as the "Hurricane San Calixto II",cite web|author=Orlando Férez|year=1970|title=Notes on the Tropical Cyclones of Puerto Rico|publisher=San Juan, Puerto Rico National Weather Service|accessdate=2007-02-12|url=] is the deadliest Atlantic hurricane on record. Over 27,500 people died when the storm passed through the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean between October 10 and October 16.cite web|author=Edward N. Rappaport, Jose Fernandez-Partagas, and Jack Beven|year=1997|title=The Deadliest Atlantic Tropical Cyclones, 1492-1996|publisher=NOAA|accessdate=2007-01-02|url=] Specifics on the hurricane's track and strength are unknown since the official Atlantic hurricane database only goes back to 1851.cite web|author=Hurricane Research Division|publisher=NOAA|year=2006|title=Re-Analysis Project|accessdate=2007-04-30|url=]

The hurricane struck Barbados with winds possibly exceeding convert|320|km/h|mph|abbr=on, before moving past Martinique, Saint Lucia, and Saint Eustatius; thousands of deaths were reported on each island. Coming in the midst of the American Revolution, the storm caused heavy losses to British and French fleets contesting for control of the area. The hurricane later passed near Puerto Rico and over the eastern portion of the Dominican Republic, which at the time was known as Santo Domingo. There, it caused heavy damage near the coastlines; it ultimately turned to the northeast before being last observed on October 20 southeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland.

The death toll from the Great Hurricane alone exceeds that of any other entire decade of Atlantic hurricanes, and is substantially higher than that of the second-deadliest Atlantic storm, Hurricane Mitch. The hurricane was part of the disastrous 1780 Atlantic hurricane season, with two other deadly storms occurring in the month of October.

Meteorological history

The exact origin of the hurricane is unknown, though modern historians estimated it developed near the Cape Verde Islands in early October. The system strengthened and grew in size as it tracked slowly westward and first began affecting Barbados late on October 9. Late on October 10, the worst of the hurricane passed over the island. Early on October 11, the hurricane turned north-northwest about convert|90|km|mi|abbr=off east of Saint Lucia, and later that night it neared the island of Martinique. The cyclone gradually weakened as it passed to the southwest of Dominica early on October 12 and subsequently struck the island of Guadeloupe.

After hitting Guadeloupe, the hurricane turned west-northwest, passing about convert|145|km|mi|abbr=off southwest of Saint Kitts. The hurricane steadily neared Puerto Rico as it paralleled the southern coastline, and made its closest point of approach on October 14 to the southwest portion of the island. It subsequently turned to the northwest, hitting the island of Mona in the Mona Passage before making landfall near the current-day Dominican Republic province of Samaná. Late on October 15 it reached the Atlantic Ocean and after passing about convert|260|km|mi|abbr=off east of Grand Turk Island, it is estimated to have recurved to the northeast. The hurricane passed convert|240|km|mi|abbr=off southeast of Bermuda on October 18, and was last observed two days later about convert|475|km|mi|abbr=off southeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland.cite web|author=Michael Chenoweth|year=2006|title=A Re-assessment of Historical Atlantic Basin Tropical Cyclone Activity, 1700-1855|publisher=NOAA|accessdate=2007-02-12|url=]

On October 19, strong winds and high tides were reported in northeastern Florida. One modern historian suggested the hurricane passed much closer to the state than previously thought. Another possibility considered was an extension to a hurricane in the western Caribbean Sea. Due to lack of data, the exact track of the Great Hurricane is unknown.cite web|author=Al Sandrik and Chris Landsea|year=2003|title=Chronological Listing of Tropical Cyclones affecting North Florida and Coastal Georgia 1565-1899|publisher=Hurricane Research Division|accessdate=2007-02-12|url=] A study by Miller "et al." (2006) suggests that the Great Hurricane may have affected Northern Florida.cite journal |last=Miller |first=Dana L. |authorlink= |coauthors="et al." |year=2006 |month= |title=Tree-ring isotope records of tropical cyclone activity |journal=PNAS |volume=103 |issue=39 |pages=14294–14297 |doi=10.1073/pnas.0606549103 |url= |accessdate= |quote= ]


The Great Hurricane persisted near Barbados for about two days, producing violent winds which were described as "so deafening that people could not hear their own voices." The winds stripped the bark off trees before the hurricane downed every tree on the island. This phenomenon has not been observed in any of the strongest modern-day tropical cyclones, so, according to meteorologist Dr. Jose Millas, for it to have been done by winds and rain alone would require winds over 200 mph (320 km/h).cite web|author=Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency|year=2005|title=NEMO remembers the great hurricane of 1780|accessdate=2007-02-12|url=] The winds also destroyed every house on Barbados. Most ships at the bay broke free of their moorings from the hurricane's rough surf and all forts on the island were destroyed. The winds and seas moved heavy cannons about convert|100|ft|m|abbr=off. About 4,500 people died on the island.cite web|author=Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency|year=2005|title=NEMO remembers the great hurricane of 1780|accessdate=2007-02-12|url=]

In Saint Vincent, the hurricane destroyed 584 of the 600 houses in Kingstown. At Grenada, 19 Dutch ships were wrecked. On Saint Lucia, rough waves and a strong storm tide destroyed the fleet of British Admiral Rodney at Port Castries, with one ship destroying the city's hospital by being lifted on top of it. The hurricane destroyed all but two houses at Port Castries, and throughout the island about 6,000 perished.

A fleet of 40 French ships involved in the American Revolutionary War capsized as a result of the hurricane off Martinique; about 4,000 soldiers drowned. The hurricane produced a convert|25|ft|m|abbr=off|adj=on storm surge on Martinique, destroying all houses in Saint-Pierre; 9,000 died on the island. Severe damage was reported on Dominica, Guadeloupe, Antigua, and Saint Kitts, though it is unknown if any died on those islands. Additionally, many ships were washed ashore on Saint Kitts. A powerful storm surge affected the island of Sint Eustatius, causing 4,000 to 5,000 fatalities.

Heavy damage was reported in southern Puerto Rico, primarily in Cabo Rojo and Lajas. Severe damage also occurred in the eastern region of the Dominican Republic. The hurricane later grounded 50 ships near Bermuda. Throughout its path, the hurricane killed over 27,500 people, making it the deadliest hurricane in Atlantic hurricane history.

ee also

*List of Atlantic hurricanes
*List of deadliest Atlantic hurricanes



* [ The Deadliest Atlantic Tropical Cyclones, 1492–1996] , by Edward N. Rappaport and Jose Fernandez-Partagas
* "Natural Disasters: Hurricanes", by Patrick J. Fitzpatrick, ABC-CLIO Inc. 1999, ISBN 1-57607-071-9
* Dunbar, "Transactions of the American [Philosophical] Society, Philadelphia", vol. 6, second series. Philadelphia, 1804.
* Blodgett, L., "Climatology of United States", p. 397, "The Great Hurricane of 1780."

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