The Atlantic Hurricane Seasons of 1837 and 1838

Tuesday, 19 April 2016: 10:45 AM
Miramar 1 & 2 (The Condado Hilton Plaza)
Cary J. Mock, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC; and C. W. Landsea and S. Delgado

This study presents a comprehensive reanalysis and reconstruction of the Atlantic hurricane seasons of 1837 and 1838 from all available historical evidence from at least several dozen different archives. Historical accounts, many with detailed sub-daily information, came from ship logbooks, newspapers, early instrumental records, and diaries. Instrumental data coverage included interior North America and middle latitudes of the North Atlantic, in order to construct daily synoptic maps to clearly assess tropical cyclone characteristics. For the 1837 Atlantic hurricane season, the historical database included over 70 navy ship logbooks, 60 instrumental records, 45 different newspaper titles that comprised of hundreds of different articles, 25 manuscript diaries and ship protests – all digitized that totaled more than 600 typical MS Word Size 12 font pages. Tropical cyclone intensities were derived for each storm from pressure-wind relationships, the Kaplan-DeMaria inland decay model, descriptive reports of damage, and wind intensity from the Beaufort scale. The results reveal at least 17 tropical cyclones for the 1837 hurricane season, which is significantly higher than previous work on this season, and clearly reveals 4 hurricanes that hit Florida. A very unusual feature for the 1837 season were 2 USA landfalling hurricanes on the same day, and 4 within an 18-day span. The 1838 hurricane season appeared less active with at least 8 tropical cyclones and very quiet in the deep tropics and Main Development Region. However, this season comprised of 5 USA tropical cyclone impacts, with 4 of these occurring along the East Coast. These results reveal ideal examples on how to extend the HURDAT record further back into time.
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