An analysis of Atlantic hurricane seasons in the Pre-HURDAT era (1775-1850)

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Wednesday, 20 January 2010
Exhibit Hall B2 (GWCC)
Steven A. LaVoie, Ball State University, Muncie, IN; and J. S. M. Coleman

An extensive database of the tracks of known tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic Ocean after 1850 is currently available and is commonly known by the abbreviation HURDAT or North Atlantic Hurricane Database. While this database is a priceless tool to public and private agencies alike, some of the deadliest hurricanes on record occurred prior to 1851. Among these was the deadliest known Atlantic hurricane, the Great Hurricane of 1780, which killed an estimated 22,000 people and was one of eight known tropical cyclones during that season. This study revolves around the identification and quantification of tropical cyclones that existed during a seventy-six year period from 1775-1850 dubbed by the author as the “Pre-HURDAT era”. While several previous researchers have compiled works on tropical cyclones that occurred prior to 1851, they have yet to attempt the development of a full database, complete with cyclone tracks, for any period prior to 1851. Those who have analyzed tracks typically focus on a certain area of the Atlantic as opposed to studying the basin as a whole. This study is essentially a synthesis of all available historical and scientific data in order to analyze the tracks of every tropical cyclone witnessed by man during the Pre-HURDAT era.