Tag Archive for: Hurricane

How a Hurricane Shaped World History

Bob Henson, a meteorologist and journalist based in Boulder, Colorado, published a fascinating a story in The Washington Post on September 26, 2020. It makes good weekend reading. The story is about a 17-year old boy named Alexander Hamilton, living on the island of St. Croix, when a hurricane struck it on August 31, 1772.

Alexander Hamilton, Portrait by John Trumbull

Hurricane Article Establishes Hamilton’s Creds as Writer

Says Henson, “The hurricane — probably at least a Category 3 in St. Croix, according to a leading weather historian — prompted a teenage Alexander Hamilton to write an evocative description of the storm published in a local newspaper. Impressed by his essay, leaders of the Caribbean island took up a collection to send him to the American Colonies for formal education. The rest is history…”

Hamilton literally wrote his way off the island.

Bob Henson in The Washington Post

Hamilton’s Account of the Storm

Hamilton wrote: “It seemed as if a total dissolution of nature was taking place. The roaring of the sea and wind, fiery meteors flying about it in the air, the prodigious glare of almost perpetual lightning, the crash of the falling houses, and the ear-piercing shrieks of the distressed, were sufficient to strike astonishment into Angels. A great part of the buildings throughout the Island are levelled to the ground, almost all the rest very much shattered; several persons killed and numbers utterly ruined; whole families running about the streets, unknowing where to find a place of shelter; the sick exposed to the keeness of water and air without a bed to lie upon, or a dry covering to their bodies; and our harbours entirely bare. In a word, misery, in all its most hideous shapes, spread over the whole face of the country.”

Busiest Hurricane Season in History

Michael Chenoweth, a climate historian quoted in the article, believes that the storm grew into a Category 4 hurricane and may have been one of the five strongest hurricanes in the Atlantic before 1900. Chenoweth also believes that the decade of that storm ties for the busiest in history.

Reading Henson’s article I felt compelled to dig more into the history of Hamilton and St. Croix.

History of St. Croix

St. Croix has been a territory of the United States since 1917. Columbus discovered the island in 1493, but the Spanish never colonized the island. Denmark, England, Norway and France jostled for possession of the island in the 1600s. For nearly 200 years, Saint Croix, St. Thomas and St. John were known as the Danish West Indies. In 1916, Denmark sold Saint Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John to the United States in the Treaty of the Danish West Indies. The cost: US$25 million in gold.

 Hamilton’s Contributions

Hamilton’s ideas are credited with laying the foundation for American government and finance.  He was:

  • An American statesman, politician, legal scholar, military commander, lawyer, banker, and economist.
  • One of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
  • New York’s delegate to the Constitutional Congress.
  • Our first Secretary of the Treasury.
  • Founder of the nation’s financial system.
  • An influential interpreter and promoter of the U.S. Constitution.
  • Commanding General of the US Army
  • Active in ending the legality of the international slave trade

Reshaping History

Hamilton campaigned against Aaron Burr, whom he felt was unprincipled. Hamilton died in a duel with Burr in New Jersey in 1804, but not before shaping the nation that would shape world history.

Had it not been for that hurricane in 1772, he might have died an orphan on St. Croix. And who knows how different history might have been?

Posted by Bob Rehak on 9/27/2020

1125 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Likely for Louisiana Coast; Tropical Storm Force Winds Could Hit Houston on Saturday

NOAA predicts Invest 92L will become Hurricane Barry and hit southwest Louisiana by Saturday morning. That could leave Houston with tropical storm force winds in the 45-70 mph range.

Current forecasts indicate landfall in southwest Louisiana on Saturday morning with the storm strengthening to 85mph just before landfall.
Tropical storm force winds in the 40 to 70 mph range could also hit Houston on Saturday morning. Intensity depends on your location. See map above.
Definite rotation showing, but not yet wound tight. Hurricane hunter planes will fly into the storm this afternoon and weather stations along the coast have doubled their upper air soundings.

Watches Likely To Extend Westward Later Today or Early Thursday, Potentially Include Upper Texas coast

Mid level circulation over the east-central Gulf of Mexico continues to develop. Current ship and buoy data in the central and eastern Gulf of Mexico indicate surface winds of 20-35 knots are already being experienced under deep convection. The US Air Force will fly the area early this afternoon to determine if/where a center of circulation has formed.

NOAA and USAF plan multiple low- and high-level missions. Effective today, weather offices along the US Gulf coast will begin launching upper air soundings every 6 hours instead of every 12. 

Track Remains Uncertain

There is still considerable uncertainty concerning the track of the storm. Adjustments remain possible and all residents within the error cone should make preparations.

85 MPH Winds Predicted at Landfall

The National Hurricane Center predicts an 85 mph hurricane before landfall in Louisiana. Much of this intensification occurs within the last 24 hours before landfall. While conditions in the near term (next 24-36 hours) are generally favorable for development, consolidation of the inner core will take some time. Much of the development should occur as the system nears the coast.

Tropical storm force winds in the 40 to 70 mph range could hit Houston – also on Saturday morning.

Jeff Lindner, Harris County Meteorologist, feels, “This will likely be a case where an intensifying hurricane is approaching the coast on Saturday.”

Storm Surge Watch In Effect for Texas Coast

Tropical storm and hurricane conditions are likely along portions of the Louisiana coast starting Friday and more likely into Saturday. Large long period swells will move into the upper Texas coastal waters starting late Thursday and building Friday into the weekend. This could push tides up along the Gulf facing beaches late Friday into the weekend (Bolivar).

Should the forecast track adjust westward any, impacts to the upper TX would be increased.

Recommended Actions

A large portion of southeast Texas remains in the official error cone. If the track shifts westward again, as it did last night, it could produce greater impacts to our area.

  • Have hurricane plans ready to be enacted if the track shifts to the west.
  • Stock hurricane supplies.
  • Monitor forecasts frequently. 

Posted by Bob Rehak on July 10, 2019 at 12:30pm

680 Days since Hurricane Harvey