Today in weather history . . .

Thomas Loades

August 17 • 1969 — Hurricane Camille makes landfall on the Mississippi/Louisiana Gulf Coast as the most powerful hurricane ever to strike the U.S. mainland. (The 1935 Labor Day Hurricane, though stronger, struck the Florida Keys at full force, but weakened by the time it reached the mainland.)
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On the evening of August 15, Camille had struck the western tip of Cuba as a category 3 storm, with winds of 115 mph which devastated coffee crop and damaged several towns. She then spent August 16 revving up in the Gulf of Mexico, and reconnaisance aircraft measured a barometric pressure of 26.61 inches in her eye — the second-lowest recorded at the time (next to the Labor Day Hurricane’s low of 26.35 inches; both were ultimately succeeded by Hurricane Gilbert in 1988).

Through August 17, authorities were desperate in trying to get people to evacuate from the Gulf Coast, but many refused. They expected nothing major as there hadn't been a big one on that coast for some time. People in Louisiana were more compliant while memories of 1965’s Betsy were still strong.

So, around 1800 EDT on August 17, Cammile came roaring ashore. She packed sustained winds of 160–175 mph, and gusts of 200 and more. This, combined with the still very low pressure (measured at Biloxi as 26.84 inches during landfall), produced a massive storm surge — 25 feet high. This has, to my knowledge, never been matched.
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People still at home on the MS Gulf Coast didn’t realize just how bad it was going to get, and many found themselves trapped in homes that were now being swept off their foundations and rapidly disintegrating.
In the most celebrated incident, about 25 people remained in the stylish, modern Richelieu Apartments in Pass Christian —
[Broken External Image]: — where they held a hurricane party. At the height of the storm the massive surge dwarfed the building and completely demolished it.
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(The complex had, after all, only been across the road from the ocean.) There was only one survivor: Mary-Anne Gerlach, who swam out of her second-story apartment window to survive. She was carried 6 miles by the wind and water.

The barrier islands offshore — now part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore — fared no better; Ship Island was split in half (the gap was named “Camille Cutâ€), and other, smaller islands vanished altogether.

By the time the storm had finished with the coast, it had killed 256 people — 137 in Pass Christian alone. It left tremendous devastation in its wake.
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Three huge tankers at moorings in Gulfport had been driven aground by the sheer force of the storm.
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Much of US-90, the main access route to the towns on the coast, had been destroyed.
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But the storm wasn’t done yet: on the night of August 19–20, as the system passed over VA/WV, it collided with a cold front, which unleashed a downpour that flooded the Tye, James, and Rockfish rivers. Over 100 people were killed in the resulting flooding, and a farmer near Massie’s Mill, VA, found that there was now 31 inches of rain in an oil barrel left out in the open.

Robert Simpson, then director of the NHC, described Camille fittingly as “the greatest recorded storm ever to hit a heavily populated area in the Western Hemisphere.†She did $1.4 billion damage (1969 terms).
Aaaah! The frames! The horrible frames! :)
Do my eyes deceive me, or have you got a frame within a frame within a frame within a frame within a frame within a frame within a frame? I know, it's not your fault, but man, is that hard to look at!
Uh . . . the last time I used NOAA photo library images, they shrunk to fit the forum things, whatever they're called. But yes, it's a frame in a frame in a frame in a frame in a frame . . . :confused2:
Originally posted by Thomas Loades
August 17 • 1969 There was only one survivor: Mary-Anne Gerlach, who swam out of her second-story apartment window to survive. She was carried 6 miles by the wind and water.

I believe I read somewhere that there was a second survivor, a boy that swam out on a matress.
That's true, but I've never read this in a source that hasn't made glaring errors elsewhere, and it makes me wonder whether it's just some apochryphal story. After all, no source has ever even stated what the boy's name is. (Most accounts I read say that he was 5.)
Speaking of Hurricane Andrew's Anniversary coming up really soon?

Like Aug 22 or 23rd?
August 24•1992 —
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Hurricane Andrew makes landfall on the southern Florida peninsula at 0400 EDT, striking Dade County hardest; in particular, the towns of Homestead and Florida City, but also the southern suburbs of Miami. Andrew killed 4 as it passed over the Bahamas the day before, and by the time it reached FL it had reached category 5 intensity (as upgraded by the NHC in 2000), with winds gusting at up to 164 mph, a 16-foot storm surge, and the previously unrealized threat of miniswirls — intense, but short-lived dust devil-like whirlwinds in the eyewall of the hurricane. They were theorized by Professor T. T. Fujita after he did a damage survey, and he concluded that they could create winds of up to 200 mph+ briefly. Andrew killed 28 in FL, then crossed into the Gulf of Mexico and struck the gulf coast near New Iberia, LA on August 26, as a category 3 storm; a tornado spawned by Andrew (one of 54) killed 3 people in La Place, LA on the evening of the 25th. Andrew became the costliest matural disaster in American history, with a total of around $25 billion — $1 billion in Louisiana, the rest in Florida.
September 2 • 1935 — The Labor Day Hurricane hit the Florida Keys as the strongest storm to affect the United States (not just the mainland). The storm was only 40 miles across, but its central pressure dropped to 892 mb, or 26.35 inches, and its winds topped 200 mph.

Almost all the victims, sadly, were WWI veterans — many of whom had taken part in the Bonus March on Washington in 1932, in an effort to claim the war payments they were owed. Instead, they had been shipped down to the Keys to work for that money; it was the Depression, after all. Their job was to build roads and railways, and they were housed in camps of flimsy cabins congregated around a mess hall, which were no defence against the sheer force of the hurricane. Most camp residents weere chased from building to building as they all collpased, and ultimately sought shelter against the main railway trestle — where they either drowned, or, horrifically, were sandblasted to death. 408 were killed all up. (It could have been worse, because not all the camps' residents were there; 500 veterans were in Miami that day to attend a Labor Day baseball game.) A relief train that was dispatched to the Keys to evacuate residents left too late, and was caught in the hurricane, which swept the entire thing — locomotive and all — right off the tracks.

There is a monument at Islamorada to the memory of all those who died in the storm.
its central pressure dropped to 892 mb, or 26.35 inches, and its winds topped 200 mph.

I believe John Hope once said the pressure was measured by a man that had climbed a tree during the hurricane and took his barometer with him.

The second strongest hurricane to his the U.S. this century would be Camille. Last NHC advisory prior to landfall listed the pressure at 901 mb and a maximum sustained wind of 190 mph.
September 5/6 • 1996 — overnight, Hurricane Fran makes landfall on the North Carolina coast at Wilmington; she's the second storm to hit that part of the coast this year, the first being Bertha on July 12. While only a category 3, she still becomes the fourth-costliest hurricane in U.S. history, with a total of $3.2 billion. Like many hurricanes, her effects did not end at landfall — on the 8th, the remains of Fran cause some of the worst flooding the Washington, DC area has experienced.
Hurricane Gilberts's anniversary is coming up soon also, right? I remember that thing virtually eliminating the 1988 drought conditions around here when those remnants moved in. Talk about a drought buster. Who ya gonna call? LOL
If I know "Forrest Gump" and I'd like to think that I do. Hurricane Camille was the storm represented in the movie that devastated the shrimping industry and gave Forrest and Bubba their big break.

I know, I know, the name of the storm in the movie and the dates were both different. It was just a movie afterall.
In the movie, it wsa hurricane Carmen, but that was a real hurricane; it hit the Gulf Coast in early August or September 1974 and was costly at the time, though it's not on the list any more.
Maybe they weren't representing Camille. I guess it was around 1974 when they started shrimping. Good catch.
September 8 • 1900 — the worst natural disaster in U.S. history, a category 4 hurricane strikes Galveston, TX and claims somewhere between 6,000 and 12,000 lives.

The town once known as the "New York of the South," a bustling and prosperous seaport, takes little notice when reports of a tropical strom crossing Cuba come in early in September. They expect it to vanish somewhere out in the Gulf of Mexico.

It doesn't; and by September 8, it's geared up and rearing to strike.

That day, the winds begin to pick up and big waves roll in on the coast . . . sounds like fun, Galvestonians think, and off they go to the beaches, pavilions, boardwalks, laughing though sand is getting in their eyes and it's pretty hard to swim. Laughing and watching in delighted awe as waves start rolling into the town.

By the afternoon, winds are approaching 80 mph and people start to leave the beaches and seek refuge in the many sea-side hotels and the like. Others trek back to their homes. Neighbors gather in the houses highest up on Galveston Island — a mere 9 feet above mean sea level.

As night falls, the full fury of the hurricane is upon them: 140-mph winds and a 16-foot storm surge. No building is a match for the water invading the town completely unabated.

Hundreds who sought shelter in the town's Catholic orphanage, or Sacred Heart Church, are killed as both buildings — even the church's apparently solid stone walls — are brought down. Many more are killed in those shoreline buildings, which are inundated and quickly collapse. Even in buildings (like the hospital) that remain standing, survivors spend a terrfying night huddled in leaking rooms and listening to the scream of the wind.

Finally, when the storm passes, it leaves a devastated metropolis in its wake. The town slowly got back on its feet — though never regaining the prosperity it once had — helped greatly by the efforts of the Red Cross. The townspeople decided that such a disaster should never happen again, and set about building a seawall, which was completed in 1905 and is still in place today. Although there have been more storms to strike Galveston — 1961's Carla, 1983's Alicia, 1989's Jerry, and a 1915 storm that claimed 275 lives — there has been nothing on the scale of the 1900 storm again.
September 16 • 1928 — a hurricane makes landfall on the Florida coast at West Palm Beach, sending the barometer to a new low of 27.43 inches; it has already killed almost 1,000 people across the Caribbean, mostly in Guadeloupe and Pureto Rico, but the worst was yet to come.

As the storm moved inland, it was still of sufficient strength to whip Lake Okeechobee into a frenzy and send it over the flimsy flood defences that existed there at the time. The waters then inundated the small resort towns of Bare Beach, Lake Harbor, Belle Glade, Pelican Bay, Pahokee, and Canal Point. People were not just killed by drowning or when their homes, or the hotels they'd fled to, collapsed, but by the natural swamp life like deadly water mocassins that were flushed out of their habitats quite literally and into contact with humans . . . not a good thing.

The storm killed 2,500 in Florida, and years later farmers and property developers in the area were still finding skeletal remains of the victims. Remarkably, however, a group of women and children huddled on a barge on the lake itself survived.

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A 10-foot-long 2x4 driven through the trunk of a royal palm on Puerto Rico following the landfall of the Lake Okeechobee Hurricane on Sep. 13, 1928.
September 18 • 1926 — the Great Miami Hurricane, fifth of the 1926 season, devastates the city in the early hours of the morning, claiming a total of 243 lives and putting an end to the property boom that the city has experienced. It was one of the most intense of the time, with pressure down to 27.61 inches and winds of 140–160 mph. It reduced the city's tourist attraction factor, too, as most of the lavish hotels (built with all the money from the property boom) and marinas were badly damaged. Many fatalities in the storm resulted when people fled their shelters in the eye of the storm, since they — and Miami — were not used to hurricanes.
• 1988 — Hurricane Gilbert finally reaches an end with the death of a pilot whose plane crashed near Muskogee, OK, in storm-generated heavy rains — the last of some 327 deaths caused by Gilbert starting in Venezuela, where, on Sept. 10, the southern fringes of the storm generated floods and mudslides that killed 50; then, on the 12th, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands were battered by the now category 3 storm. On the 13th, Gilbert intensified over the western Caribbean to the strongest Western Hemisphere storm yet recorded: a category 5 with pressure down to 888 mb, or 26.23 inches, and an eye just 8 miles wide. This was the storm that roared into the Yucatan Peninsula on the evening of Sept. 15, laying waste to many resorts and coastal towns. Fortunately, there was minimal loss of life since most people had evacuated the area. By the 16th, the storm crossed into the Gulf of Mexico, by which time it had weakened to a category 3. On the morning of the 17th, it made its last landfall, about 100mi. S of the TX/Mexico border. Again, there were few fatalities, since the area was not heavily populated — but this was not to last. As the weakening Gilbert made its way to the inland city of Monterrey, its profuse rains overwhelmed rivers . . . and a quartet of tourists' buses, carrying a total of 200 passengers. They were forced to the roof of the buses while waiting for rescue (at which time 2 policemen drowned as they attempted to reach the buses in a tractor that overturned); but it was never to arrive. The buses all overturned and were swept aaway before anyone could be saved, and all but 13 of the tourists drowned. Gilbert also spawned 82 tornadoes in S TX, and caused one other fatality in the U.S. — a man in San Antonio, TX who died when strong winds snapped a power pole which struck his house.
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Hurricane Gilbert at peak intensity, September 13, 1988
September 21/22 • 1989 — overnight, hurricane Hugo makes landfall on the SC coast at Charleston and Folly Beach as a category 4 hurricane. In the previous days (Sep. 17–19) it had battered The U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Guadeloupe as a category 5 storm; though it had subsided (marginally) by this point, it still became the second-costliest hurricane in U.S. History, with a total of $10.5 billion in damage. (That may change after the 2004 hurricane season, but the final figures aren't in yet.)
[Broken External Image]: Hurricane Hugo at landfall, 0000 EDT September 22, 1989

September 26 • 1954 — a typhoon passing between Honshu and Hokkaido islands, Japan, encounters the car-ferry Toya Maru, sailing from Aomori (Honshu) to Hakodate (Hokkaido). Unfortunately, railway cars in the ship's vehicle hold break loose in the heavy seas, slide over to one side of the ship, and cause it to capsize. 1,100 passengers drown. The typhoon, which did extensive damage to towns in southern Hokkaido, was of unprecedented intensity for such a northern altitude — even though it was a strong category 2.

September 26–7 • 1959 — Typhoon Vera hammers the SE part of Honshu, Japan, with winds of 150 mph and a storm surge of at least 18 feet. It struck hardest the city of Nagoya, where most of the fatalities (somewhere on the order of 1,700–2,000) occurred. A lot of damage was done by the storm surge destroying a lumber yard and sending its contents hurtling through nearby residential neighborhoods.

September 28 • 1955 — hurricane Janet dissipates over inland Mexico after a rampage across the Caribbean for the last 6 days which claimed between 538 and 681 lives, mostly in Barbados, Belize, and Mexico (particularly around Tampico) — and the three crew members and 2 passengers, both Canadian journalists, of the only Hurricane Hunter flight ever to be lost in action over the western Atlantic. They set out on September 27 from Biloxi, MS, to intercept the storm in the Gulf of Mexico, and radioed their last message on the approach to the eyewall; Janet was a category 5 at the time. No trace was ever found of them or the plane. • In the western Pacific, 6 crewmembers of “Swan 38,†a typhoon reconnaisance plane set out from Guam on August 12, 1974, to take measurements in typhoon Betsy, died (presumably) when their plane vanished in the storm, about 200m SE of Hong Kong. They, too, were the only fatalities in the entire run of typhoon reconnaisance in the W. Pacific, from 1955 to 1987, when the flights were cancelled. Lest we forget.
October 17 • 1954 — Hurricane Hazel finally dissipates over Ontario after devastating Haiti, the east coast of the U.S., and eastern Canada. On October 13, Hazel struck Haiti as a category 3, doing the worst damage on the south coast, especially in the town of Jacmel. Several thousand were killed here. As Hazel moved north, she intensified to category 4, and struck the SC coast at Holden Beach on October 15. Most of that town, and numerous other beachside communities around the northern SC and southern NC coast were badly damaged. That was not to be the end of Hazel, though; the next day, she continued to move up the east coast, assaulting Washington, DC with 98-mph winds that shredded the flag atop the Capitol, forced government workers home early (they had to struggle their way in the storm, though), and raised the Potomac River 9 feet. New York also experienced winds of 100 mph (recorded at LaGuardia airport) as the storm passed by. The final king-hit from the storm came to Toronto, ON, where the dying Hazel released much of her remaining precipitation on October 17, causing the Don river to burst its banks and charge through town and the surrounding area. It's still Canada's worst hurricane. • Hazel was the worst of the “Bad Girls of 1954,â€￾ after Carol struck CT, Long Island, NY, MA, and RI (flooding downtown Providence as did the 1938 Long Island Express on September 22, 1938, which killed 600 in New England) on August 31 — then Edna struck ME in late September.
October 31 • 1991 — “The Perfect Storm†reaches peak intensity off the New England coast. It was a nor’easter on steroids, really — formed by the convergence of a depression in the N Atlantic with the tepid hurricane Grace (which would, in any other situation, form a fairly strong extratropical cyclone anyway), plus a high moving SE from Canada, which provided dry air that accelerated the intensification of the storm, in much the same way that both dry and moist air are involved with the formation of severe thunderstorms. Anyway, the storm picked right up with 120-mph winds and waves up to 100 feet measured by NOAA automated buoys. There were at least 12 fatalities with the storm — 9 at sea (most on the Gloucester, MA trawler Andrea Gail, which sank), and at least 3 on land around RI, NY, and NJ. The worst damage was done in MA, where the storm struck this evening; the storm warped the coastline of Nantucket Island into a new shape, while scouring 7 homes off the shoreline. The next day, the storm swung E and disspated . . . but then a hurricane formed out of what had been the core of the storm. It was left unnamed, and made landfall on the Newfoundland coast on the evening of November 4.

November 7–13 • 1913 — “The Great White Hurricane†pounds the Great Lakes with winds of 60 mph and faster gusts, pressure down to 28.60 inches (968.5 mb), and several feet of snow blanketing the communities all around the lakes. Though a 1978 blizzard was more intense, it was in January, when the lakes' shipping lanes had closed — in this storm, they had not. As a result, many ships were caught out aon the water in the storm, and 8 large freighters were sunk (among other boats), and most of the 235 deaths were on them.

November 26–7 • 1703 — the Great Storm savages the English channel and the south coast of Britain. Even though it struck at night, hundreds still drowned as ships in the Channel suddenly encountered the vicious storm — we can only assume it was, like other violent windstorms to strike Britain in the fall and winter, a very intense depression — and, of course, without warning. Over land, many towns suffered damage and deaths, and at least one tornado occurred in the storm. (Most of what we know of this event comes from a pamphlet written by Daniel Defoe, who was an unknown copywriter at the time.

December 17–8 • 1944 — under the advice of the Navy's weather forecast, Admiral William F. Halsey steered his fleet SW, toward the Philippines (where his fleet were headed), but away from Typhoon Cobra, which — he was advised — was off to the E. Alas, the Navy's forecast was wrong, and he was, in fact, steering his fleet right into Cobra. The fleet sailed right through it, and re-emerged three cruisers and 790 men fewer than before they went in. Most were lost as towering waves rolled the ships so far over that water poured down their funnels and flooded the boilers, disabling the engines. Just 6 months later, another of Halsey's fleets sailed into Typhoon Viper, again due to an incorrect weather forecast, but with less catastrophic results — only 3 died this time, and no ships sank.[/b]
March 12–14 • 1888 / 1993 — In this period, two exceptional winter storms affected the United States. The first was New York's legendary "White Hurricane," a violent blizzard with 100-mph+ winds and about 10 feet of snow that crippled the city. The lack of any reference to it in forecasts (it was meant to be "cold, but clear") made things all the worse. Over 500 died, many in the course of struggling to work lest they lose their jobs.

March 13 • 1990 — a tornado outbreak of unusual expanse and intensity for so early in the season spawns at least 30 tornadoes from OK to IL; three violent tornadoes came of it (two in KS, one in NE), and the first evidence that consecutive tornado family members could merge was obtained through photos and videos of the Hesston and Goessel, KS, tornadoes.

March 18 • 1925 —
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Along the black line on the center of this map, the worst single tornado disaster in U.S. history took place.

695 people in a string of towns on a mining ridge across three states — Missouri, Illinois, Indiana — were killed by a gargantuan tornado, the likes of which had never been seen before and, just as well, not seen since. The tornado roared forward at 60–73 mph, and covered 219 miles in three hours seventeen minutes. More people died in schools, rural areas, and a single town (Murphysboro, IL*) than any other tornado. It seems that the near invisiblity of the tornado — it presented itself as a "boiling wall of fog" to a DeSoto, IL, observer — contributed to its high death toll; no-one could really tell what was coming at them.

It may be that this was not one tornado but a family, either linked by downbursts or merging members. It certainly seems that the path between Biehle, MO, and Princeton, IN — the bulk of the path — was a singular damage track. All the same, we'll never know. But then, mystique does tend to add to the awe one feels about such a remarkable tornado, despite its drastic toll.

The other tornadoes in AL, TN, KY, and IN that day brought the total death toll to 747 — probably the worst tornado outbreak in U.S. history.

*There is some contention as to whether this distinction stands; the Tupelo, MS, tornado of April 5, 1936, may have killed more — this can't be confirmed due to the racism rampant among newspapers of the time, where fatalities among the black population tended to be ignored. The MS State Geologist put the toll at 233 a few days after the tornado — when the numbers of injured were still, obviously, high. The official toll of the Tupelo tornado is 216.
March 23 • 1913 — An Easter tornado outbreak, again, unusually far north for this time of year, affects KS and NE; the high- (or rather low-) point of this event was an F4 that struck Omaha, and killed 94 people while razing numerous suburbs.

March 27 • 1994 — The “Palm Sunday-II†outbreak, which is closer to the norm in one respect (the activity was concentrated in the southern states), but unusual in another (most of the tornadoes were in the late morning). The most notable event was a large F4 tornado which killed 20 people in the Goshen Methodist Church at Piedmont, AL — and provided the impetus for a large-scale warning siren network to be installed; another F4 killed an entire family (8 members) when it threw their double-wide trailer several hundred yards along a slope of Henderson Mountain, GA. • And not quite weather, but in 1964, the second-largest earthquake ever recorded — a magnitude 9.2 — shakes Prince William Sound and the adjacent AK coast (including the towns of Anchorage, Valdez, and Seward) for four minutes. It knocks parts of the coast as much as 25 feet down from where they'd previously sat, kills 116, and sends tsunamis across the Pacific — though they did their worst closest to home, on Kodiak Island, AK, they caused considerable damage down the North American coast: 2 died in BC, 5 in OR, and about 30 in Crescent City, CA, which was severely damaged. (The crescent-shaped bay it's named for reflected the waves as they passed, and focused them right on the town.)
April 1 • 1946 —
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(Again, not quite weather, but worthy of mention) Quite early this morning, a magnitude 7.3 earthquake jolts the 5-man crew of the Scotch Cap Lighthouse on Unimak Island (Aleutian Is.), AK, awake. It stops after a minute. They think no more of it, and may not have even seen the 100-foot high wave that bore down on them 48 minutes later until it was far too late. The lighthouse was totally demolished, and the crew were killed.

Several hours later, and on the Big Island of Hawai‘i, most people are up and preparing for the day ahead. At Laupāhoehoe, children are arriving at their oceanfront elementary school, and laugh off some of their classmates’ incredulous statements that the ocean's going dry — “Oh, yeah. April fools!†At Hilo, the largest city on the northern coast, the reaction is much the same. (Even when children aren’t involved.)

Then, the ocean starts coming back in. When it does so, it reaches higher than normal — and leaves fish flopping around. People throng to the shorelines, as the ocean pulls way back and comes right in again . . .

. . . But the third time, it pulls out, piles higher, and higher, and when it comes back in, it doesn’t stop at all. No, it charges in as a foaming, roaring mass looming above 30-foot-high coconut palms. It casually rips a span off the steel railroad bridge over the Wailuku river in W Hilo. It kicks all the buildings on the oceanfront side of Kamehameha avenue well into the landward side. It charges through the rambling Japanese neighborhood of Shinmachi and the pristine, orderly new subdivisions of Keaukaha and Waiākea alike. There are four more moderate waves, then another monster. The ocean finally stills. An hour-and-a-half has passed.

159 people were killed on Hawai‘i in the 1946 tsunami — 96 in Hilo, and another 25 at Laupāhoehoe (among those, 16 students and 5 teachers at the school). Also among the dead is the stevedore pictured above, swept off the Hilo Commercial Piers. The picture was taken from the S.S. Brigham Victory, moored at the piers; she survived unscathed. Waves reached 30 feet in Hilo and Laupāhoehoe, and up to 55 feet at Pololu Valley, to the west of the Big Island’s N coast. The rest of the Hawai‘ian Islands passed through relatively unscathed.

As this tragedy was entirely unprecedented — and more than a few survivors were now all too aware of just what a tsunami was — it proved the impetus for the founding of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, which still operates today at ‘Ewa Beach, near Honolulu, O‘ahu.

Two big earthquakes — an 8.8 at Kamchatka, Nov. 4, 1952, and a 9.1 in the Aleutians, March 9, 1957 — generated tsunamis that reached Hawai‘i and proved good tests for the PTWC.
also on April 1 • 1960 — The first weather satellite, TIROS I, is launched from Cape Canaveral and soon activated. Though exceptionally crude by today's standards (its camera was just a TV camera), it was invaulable for gathering data and views of cloud formations that were previously obtainable — barely — only from high-altitude research gondolas. Just over a week later, TIROS I takes the first satellite image of a tropical cyclone, in this case a decaying system a few hundred miles E of the Queensland (Australia) coast:
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April 2 • 1957 —
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A tornado meanders up the west side of Dallas, TX, giving thousands of citizens a magnificent view of it. At least 125 people took 450 black and white photos, 200 color slides, and over 2,000 feet of movie film — all of which proved invaluable to the study of a tornado's life cycle, since just about every bit of it was photographed here. At the time the above photo was taken, the tornado was demolishing low-grade housing near the south bank of the Trinity River. Several of the tornado's 10 fatalities occurred there.

April 3–4 • 1974 —

20 hours
148 tornadoes
OH / MS / AL / GA / SC / NC / IL / IN / KY / TN / MI / WV / VA / ON

We all know the rest, really, don't we?
On this date (well, April 6th) back in 1886: Detroit, MI set it's 24 hour record for most snowfall, at 25.4 inches of snow, with drifts up and over 12 feet high. The snow was so heavy that people used crow bars and ice picks just to cut a path through the snow.

APRIL 1886 -

By early April 1886, some residents of Southeast Lower Michigan had most likely started on spring outdoor activities. High temperatures frequently pushed well into the 50s from mid March on; the last hint of snow fell nearly two weeks before on the 23rd. No doubt the growing season's new green vegetation was well underway.

The weather days proceeding the massive and incredible snowstorm hinted little of what was yet to come; however, there were some subtle signs of trouble brewing. The first was a fresh, brisk northeast wind that blew continuously for nearly three days prior to 6th (generally, an easterly wind along with a falling barometer in this region, foretells of foul weather approaching the area). On the 4th into the 5th, observations including temperatures, wind flow and pressure changes indicated an unseasonably cold high pressure system pushing slowly into Southern Canada and the Northern Great Lakes. This persistent and strengthening northeast wind along with an extended period of steady, then slowly falling barometric pressure, during the three-day period (3rd, 4th and 5th), indicates this high was a fairly strong, resilient and a blocking type of high pressure. A second and more foreboding sign of what was to come was indeed a rapidly falling barometric pressure later on the 5th, which foretold of the major storm approaching Southeast Lower Michigan. The surface observations late on the 5th indicated a low pressure and storm center approaching the Southern Great Lakes from the south or southwest (most likely from Illinois, Indiana or Ohio) as the cold high to the north slowly retreated.

The afternoon high on the 5th reached only 38 degrees (about 15 degrees below normal) and then held nearly steady into the evening. Increasing high cirrostratus clouds mingled with the sunset but then, quickly lowered to altostratus and nimbostratus as midnight approached. Light snow began to fly just after midnight and remained light until becoming heavy during the predawn hours. Note the following taken from the actual Detroit Weather Log dated April 6th, 1886:

"Snow began at 12:30 AM and fell light until about 4:30 AM when it began to fall heavy and a tremendous fall of snow continued all day, ending at 9:00 PM. The fall at 7:00 AM was 4.6" and at 3:00 PM was 17.1" and at 11:00 PM, 2.4" making the total of 24.1 inches melted from the snow gauge. The rain gauge was soon snowed full and was practically useless. Total fall of the snow on the level was 24.5 inches. The snow was badly drifted by the heavy gale. The drifts in some places were 12 feet high and the snow in the street was from 10" to 40" inches deep. A heavy north gale set in at 1:45 AM and raged in fury all day reaching 40 miles north at 2:15 PM and continued all the remainder of the day. Its force with the snow was appalling. It blew the snow in fine particles against the face, cutting like a knife."

The synopsis continues with a description of numerous street cars that were abandoned, strewn about and laying in all sorts of positions. As one might expect with the snow falling in April, the snow contained a high water content (2.43") and, therefore, it was very heavy and packed down well. Obviously, wading through the snow to get around on foot was extremely difficult - so much so that it became necessary to use crowbars and ice picks just to clean a path on the street. Maneuvering through, or just moving the snow, was such a monumental chore that even several ton railroad cars were "held prisoner in their houses". On the train tracks, freight cars were immobilized and abandoned across all of Southeast Lower Michigan. Temperatures held in the upper 20s to around 30 through the entire snowfall, with over two feet of snow reported on the ground. The strong northeast to north gale sculptured towering drifts of snow up to 12 feet high across the landscape .The howling wind averaged over 30 mph during the 24 hour period. The lowest barometric pressure reading noted was 29.60 inches at 11:00 AM on the 6th. This reading isn't too terribly deep or severe (the lowest pressure ever observed in Detroit was 28.34 inches during the late January blizzard of 1978), but the pressure was taken only five times daily (7:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM, 7:00 PM and 11:00 PM), so it likely fell lower As the center of the low pressure drifted further north into the Great Lakes on the 7th, milder air from the south was drawn into Southeast Lower Michigan. The sky cleared as the wind shifted to the south and the temperature rose to 40 degrees, in spite of the very heavy snow cover. In the days following the storm, temperatures managed to push up well into the 50s and even reached the mid 70s by mid month, after all, this was April, right?

This storm stands as Detroit's biggest and severest snowstorm and is well summarized by the following quote in the journal and actually would still stand to this day. . .

"The storm was unprecedented in fierceness, snowfall and blockades in the history of the service and the oldest inhabitants can recall nothing to equal it".

Be glad we're not looking at that...