Hurricane Audrey

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Hurricane Audrey
Category 3 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Audrey before landfall.gif
Radar image of Audrey prior to landfall
FormedJune 25, 1957 (1957-06-25)
DissipatedJune 29, 1957 (1957-06-30)
Highest winds 1-minute sustained:125 mph (205 km/h)
Lowest pressure946 mbar (hPa); 27.94 inHg
FatalitiesAt least 431
Damage$147 million (1957 USD)
Areas affected South Central United States (particularly Texas and Louisiana), Southeastern United States, Midwestern United States, New England Quebec, Ontario
Part of the 1957 Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane Audrey was one of the deadliest tropical cyclones in U.S. history, as well as the strongest June hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic basin, tied with Hurricane Alex in 2010. The rapidly developing storm struck southwestern Louisiana as a powerful Category 3 hurricane, destroying coastal communities with a powerful storm surge that penetrated as far as 20 mi (32 km) inland. The first named storm and hurricane of the annual hurricane season, it formed on June 24 from a tropical wave which moved into the Bay of Campeche. Situated within ideal conditions for tropical development, Audrey quickly strengthened, reaching hurricane status a day afterwards. Moving northwards, it continued to strengthen and accelerate as it approached the United States Gulf Coast. On June 27, the hurricane reached peak sustained winds of 125 mph (205 km/h), making it a major hurricane. [nb 1] At the time, Audrey had a minimum barometric pressure of 946  mbar (hPa; 27.91  inHg). The hurricane made landfall at the same intensity between the mouth of the Sabine River and Cameron, Louisiana later that day, causing unprecedented destruction across the region. Once inland, Audrey weakened and turned extratropical over West Virginia on June 29.

Tropical cyclone Rotating storm system with a closed, low-level circulation

A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure center, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, strong winds, and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce heavy rain. Depending on its location and strength, a tropical cyclone is referred to by different names, including hurricane, typhoon, tropical storm, cyclonic storm, tropical depression, and simply cyclone. A hurricane is a tropical cyclone that occurs in the Atlantic Ocean and northeastern Pacific Ocean, and a typhoon occurs in the northwestern Pacific Ocean; in the south Pacific or Indian Ocean, comparable storms are referred to simply as "tropical cyclones" or "severe cyclonic storms".

Hurricane Alex (2010) Category 2 Atlantic hurricane in 2010

Hurricane Alex was a rare June Atlantic hurricane and the first tropical cyclone to develop in the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season. Originating from an area of disturbed weather on June 25, 2010, it slowly developed in the western Caribbean Sea and struck Belize as a strong tropical storm. After entering the Gulf of Mexico, Alex became very large and encountered conditions favorable for gradual development. Early on June 30, the cyclone attained hurricane status as it approached northeastern Mexico, the first June hurricane in the Atlantic basin since Hurricane Allison in 1995, and the storm rapidly intensified just off the coast of Tamaulipas. Alex came ashore near Soto la Marina as a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

2010 Atlantic hurricane season hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season was the first in a group of three very active Atlantic hurricane seasons. It is tied alongside 1887, 1995, 2011, and 2012 with 19 tropical storms, the third highest count in recorded history. It featured 12 hurricanes, tied with 1969 for the second highest total. Only the quintessential 2005 season saw more activity. Despite the high amount of hurricanes, not one hurricane hit the United States making the season the only season with 10 or more hurricanes without a United States landfall. The overall tropical cyclone count in the Atlantic exceeded that in the West Pacific for only the second time on record. The season officially began on June 1 and ended on November 30, dates that conventionally delimit the period during each year when tropical cyclone formation is most likely. The first cyclone, Alex intensified into the first June hurricane since Allison in 1995. The month of September featured eight named storms, tying 2002 and 2007 for the record. October featured five hurricanes, just short of the record set in 1870. Finally, Hurricane Tomas became the latest hurricane on record to move through the Windward Islands in late October. Activity was represented with an accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) value of 165 units, which was the eleventh highest value on record at the time.

Contents

Prior to making landfall, Audrey severely disrupted offshore drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico. Damages from offshore oil facilities alone was estimated at $16 million. [nb 2] Audrey caused much of its destruction near the border between Texas and Louisiana upon its first and only landfall. The hurricane's strong winds resulted in widespread property and infrastructural damage. Power outages also resulted from the strong winds. However, as is typical with most landfalling tropical cyclones, most of the destruction at the coast was the result of the hurricane's strong storm surge, which was amplified by Audrey's rapid deepening just prior to landfall. The hurricane's storm surge was reported to have peaked as high as 12 ft (3.7 m), helping to inundate coastal areas. Damage from the surge alone extended 25 mi (40 km) inland. The rough seas killed nine people offshore after capsizing the boat they were in. Further inland in Louisiana, the storm spawned two tornadoes, causing additional damage. The hurricane also dropped heavy rainfall, peaking at 10.63 in (270 mm) near Basile. In Louisiana and Texas, where Audrey first impacted, damages totaled $128 million.

Offshore drilling Mechanical process where a wellbore is drilled below the seabed

Offshore drilling is a mechanical process where a wellbore is drilled below the seabed. It is typically carried out in order to explore for and subsequently extract petroleum which lies in rock formations beneath the seabed. Most commonly, the term is used to describe drilling activities on the continental shelf, though the term can also be applied to drilling in lakes, inshore waters and inland seas.

Gulf of Mexico An Atlantic Ocean basin extending into southern North America

The Gulf of Mexico is an ocean basin and a marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean, largely surrounded by the North American continent. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. The U.S. states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida border the Gulf on the north, which are often referred to as the "Third Coast", in comparison with the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, and has a coastline with the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast.

After moving inland and transitioning into an extratropical cyclone, Audrey caused additional damage across the interior United States. The storm produced 23 tornadoes across Mississippi and Alabama, causing $600,000 in losses and killing two people. As it moved towards the northeast, moisture associated with the extratropical remnants of Audrey intersected with a weather front over the Midwest, producing record rainfall that peaked at 10.20 in (259.08 mm) in Paris, Illinois. The resultant flooding resulted in ten fatalities. Elsewhere in the United States, the storm brought strong winds, causing additional damage. Farther north, in Canada, 15 people were killed in Ontario and Quebec. Strong winds and torrential rainfall disrupted transportation services. In Quebec, ten people were killed in the Montreal area, making Audrey the deadliest hurricane to strike the Canadian province in recorded history. The storm was also considered the worst storm to strike Quebec in at least 20 years. In the United States, Audrey killed at least 416 people, the majority of whom were in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, though the final death total may never be known. Damage totaled $147 million in the country, at the time the fifth-costliest hurricane recorded in the US since 1900. The name Audrey was later retired from usage as an identifier for an Atlantic hurricane.

Mississippi State of the United States of America

Mississippi is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. Mississippi is the 32nd largest and 34th-most populous of the 50 United States. Mississippi is bordered to north by Tennessee, to the east by Alabama, to the south by the Gulf of Mexico, to the southwest by Louisiana, and to the northwest by Arkansas. Mississippi's western boundary is largely defined by the Mississippi River. Jackson is both the state's capital and largest city. Greater Jackson, with an estimated population of 580,166 in 2018, is the most populous metropolitan area in Mississippi and the 95th-most populous in the United States.

Alabama State of the United States of America

Alabama is a state in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama is the 30th largest by area and the 24th-most populous of the U.S. states. With a total of 1,500 miles (2,400 km) of inland waterways, Alabama has among the most of any state.

Midwestern United States region that includes parts of Canada and the United States

The Midwestern United States, also referred to as the American Midwest, Middle West, or simply the Midwest, is one of four census regions of the United States Census Bureau. It occupies the northern central part of the United States. It was officially named the North Central Region by the Census Bureau until 1984. It is located between the Northeastern United States and the Western United States, with Canada to its north and the Southern United States to its south.

Meteorological history

Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir-Simpson scale Audrey 1957 track.png
Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale

The formation and development of Hurricane Audrey was multi-faceted. One contributor to Audrey's formation—an area of anomalously low pressures roughly 10,000 ft (3,000 m) above sea level—was traced back to its first detection in the western Caribbean Sea on June 11. In an analysis of weather patterns from June 1957, Weather Bureau meteorologist William H. Klein noted the potential for research on similar disturbances to shed light on tropical cyclone development. [2] Concurrently, surface observations suggested the progression of a disorganized tropical wave tracking westward across the Caribbean Sea beginning on June 20, [3] eventually entering the Bay of Campeche on June 22. [4] At 12:00  UTC on June 24 (7:00 a.m. CST), the resulting disturbance organized into a tropical depression based on ship reports in the bay; [4] at the time, the first indication of a developing tropical cyclone originated from a report from a shrimp boat. [5] The depression was in a highly favorable environment for intensification in the western Gulf of Mexico; sea surface temperatures in the area were at 85 °F (29 °C), or 3 °F (2 °C) above normal for the time of year. In addition, the latitudinal alignment of a polar trough over the Great Plains and the nascent disturbance in the Bay of Campeche created an environment suitable for outflow in the upper-levels of the atmosphere. [2] Taking advantage of these conditions, Audrey reached tropical storm strength just six hours after being classified as a tropical depression while remaining nearly stationary. [6]

Caribbean Sea A sea of the Atlantic Ocean bounded by North, Central, and South America

The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean in the tropics of the Western Hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and south west, to the north by the Greater Antilles starting with Cuba, to the east by the Lesser Antilles, and to the south by the north coast of South America.

Tropical cyclogenesis

Tropical cyclogenesis is the development and strengthening of a tropical cyclone in the atmosphere. The mechanisms through which tropical cyclogenesis occurs are distinctly different from those through which temperate cyclogenesis occurs. Tropical cyclogenesis involves the development of a warm-core cyclone, due to significant convection in a favorable atmospheric environment.

Tropical wave type of atmospheric trough

Tropical waves, easterly waves, or tropical easterly waves, also known as African easterly waves in the Atlantic region, are a type of atmospheric trough, an elongated area of relatively low air pressure, oriented north to south, which moves from east to west across the tropics, causing areas of cloudiness and thunderstorms. West-moving waves can also form from the tail end of frontal zones in the subtropics and tropics, and may be referred to as easterly waves, but these waves are not properly called tropical waves; they are a form of inverted trough sharing many characteristics with fully tropical waves. All tropical waves form in the easterly flow along the equatorward side of the subtropical ridge or belt of high pressure which lies north and south of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). Tropical waves are generally carried westward by the prevailing easterly winds along the tropics and subtropics near the equator. They can lead to the formation of tropical cyclones in the north Atlantic and northeastern Pacific basins. A tropical wave study is aided by Hovmöller diagrams, a graph of meteorological data.

On June 25, the first reconnaissance aircraft, [4] a P-2 Neptune, [7] reached the system to probe its strength, [4] concluding that Audrey had reached hurricane intensity by 18:00 UTC that day (1:00 p.m. CST), capping off an initial phase of rapid intensification about 380 mi (610 km) southeast of Brownsville, Texas. [3] [6] Now moving slowly northward around the periphery of a ridge of high pressure over the eastern Gulf of Mexico, [8] the storm's strengthening slowed on June 26 though reconnaissance revealed an increase in the storm's rainfall. [6] [8] The following day, Audrey entered a second phase of intensification as it accelerated towards the United States Gulf Coast, reaching the equivalent of a modern-day Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale at 00:00 UTC on June 27 (7:00 p.m. CST June 26) and Category 3 status just six hours later. [6] Between the final observation from aircraft and landfall, the storm's pressure had deepened by roughly 30  mbar (hPa; 0.89  inHg). The last observation near the storm's center occurred approximately five hours before landfall by the tanker Tillamook, documenting a pressure at the western edge of the storm's eyewall of 969 mbar (hPa; 27.94 inHg). [8] At 13:30 UTC (8:30 a.m. CST) on June 27, Audrey made landfall at peak intensity just east of the border between Texas and Louisiana with winds of 125 mph (200 km/h) and a minimum central pressure of 946 mbar (hPa; 28.61 inHg). [4] An oil rig observed conditions suggestive of a much stronger storm with winds of 180 mph (290 km/h) and a pressure of 925 mbar (hPa; 27.32 inHg), but these were discarded as erroneous. [4] [8] Radar and ground observations suggested the storm had concentric eyewalls at the time of landfall, resulting in two wind maxima. [4] Operationally, Audrey was assessed to have been a Category 4 hurricane at landfall, [4] with various estimation methods suggesting a much lower barometric pressure, [8] but the Atlantic hurricane reanalysis project reassessed the system a lower final intensity. [4] Despite the lowered intensity, Audrey remains tied with 2010's Hurricane Alex as being the most intense Atlantic hurricanes in June by pressure and with 1966's Hurricane Alma as having the highest winds of any June hurricane in the Atlantic. [6]

Hurricane hunters

Hurricane hunters are aircrews that fly into tropical cyclones to gather weather data. In the United States, the organizations that fly these missions are the United States Air Force Reserve's 53d Weather Reconnaissance Squadron and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Hurricane Hunters. Such missions have also been flown by Navy units and other Air Force and NOAA units.

Rapid intensification

Rapid intensification is a meteorological condition that occurs when a tropical cyclone intensifies dramatically in a short period of time. The United States National Hurricane Center (NHC) defines rapid intensification as an increase in the maximum 1-min sustained winds of a tropical cyclone of at least 30 knots in a 24-hour period.

Brownsville, Texas City in Texas, United States

Brownsville is a city in Cameron County in the U.S. state of Texas. It located on the western Gulf Coast in South Texas, adjacent to the border with Matamoros, Mexico. The city covers 81.528 square miles (211.157 km2) and has a population of 183,299 as of 2017. It is the 131st-largest city in the United States and 16th-largest in Texas. It is part of the Brownsville–Matamoros conurbation, with a population of 1,136,995 people. The city is known for its year-round subtropical climate, deep-water seaport and Hispanic culture.

Audrey gradually weakened and turned to the northeast after moving inland, degenerating to a tropical storm on June 28. An approaching cold front caused Audrey to evolve into an extratropical cyclone completing this transition on June 29 over West Virginia with a final pressure of 995 mbar (hPa; 29.38 inHg). [4] [3] At the same time, a second extratropical cyclone developed near Chicago, Illinois and tracked eastward. [3] Six hours later, the remnants of Audrey were absorbed by this second extratropical cyclone over the Great Lakes. [4] The interaction of Audrey with this second system led to unusual strengthening of the resulting combined cyclone and hurricane-force winds as it moved across the Northeastern United States, [8] aided in part by an unusual warming of the stratosphere. [3] As an extratropical system, Audrey reached a minimum pressure of 974 mbar (hPa; 28.76 inHg) roughly 140 mi (230 km) north of Buffalo, New York in southwestern Quebec; [3] the post-tropical strengthening of Audrey was reminiscent to that of Hurricane Hazel in 1954. [2]

Cold front Leading edge of a cooler mass of air

A cold front is the leading edge of a cooler mass of air, replacing at ground level a warmer mass of air, which lies within a fairly sharp surface trough of low pressure. It forms in the wake of an extratropical cyclone, at the leading edge of its cold air advection pattern, which is also known as the cyclone's dry conveyor belt circulation. Temperature differences across the boundary can exceed 30 °C (54 °F) from one side to the other. When enough moisture is present, rain can occur along the boundary. If there is significant instability along the boundary, a narrow line of thunderstorms can form along the frontal zone. If instability is less, a broad shield of rain can move in behind the front, which increases the temperature difference across the boundary. Cold fronts are stronger in the fall and spring transition seasons and weakest during the summer.

Extratropical cyclone type of cyclone

Extratropical cyclones, sometimes called mid-latitude cyclones or wave cyclones, are low-pressure areas which, along with the anticyclones of high-pressure areas, drive the weather over much of the Earth. Extratropical cyclones are capable of producing anything from cloudiness and mild showers to heavy gales, thunderstorms, blizzards, and tornadoes. These types of cyclones are defined as large scale (synoptic) low pressure weather systems that occur in the middle latitudes of the Earth. In contrast with tropical cyclones, extratropical cyclones produce rapid changes in temperature and dew point along broad lines, called weather fronts, about the center of the cyclone.

West Virginia State of the United States of America

West Virginia is a state located in the Appalachian region in the Southern United States, and is also considered to be a part of the Middle Atlantic States. It is bordered by Pennsylvania to the north, Maryland to the east and northeast, Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, and Ohio to the northwest. West Virginia is the 41st largest state by area, and is ranked 38th in population. The capital and largest city is Charleston.

Preparations

Radar mosaic imagery of Audrey from three radar sites as it made landfall on June 27 Hurricane Audrey 1957 Radar Animation.gif
Radar mosaic imagery of Audrey from three radar sites as it made landfall on June 27

Although Audrey's formation was not explicitly forecast, the Weather Bureau in Miami, Florida had issued its first experimental 30-day hurricane forecast on June 17, underscoring a high likelihood for the development of one or two tropical storms in the forecast period. [9] The first bulletin on Audrey was issued by the Weather Bureau office in New Orleans, Louisiana at 04:30 UTC on June 25 (11:30 p.m. CST June 24), while Audrey was still a tropical depression in the Bay of Campeche. [3] A hurricane watch was advised for the coasts of Texas and Louisiana the following day. [7] A hurricane warning was issued for the entirety of the Louisiana coast at 10 a.m. CST on June 26, with the Weather Bureau highlighting track similarities between Audrey and Hurricane Flossy in 1956; [10] experience with Flossy aided in part in convincing Grand Isle, Louisiana residents to evacuate. At the same time, northwest storm warnings were issued for the Texas coast east of Galveston, while southeast storm warnings were issued for the U.S. Gulf Coast between Louisiana and Pensacola, Florida. Small coastal craft from Brownsville, Texas to Panama City, Florida were advised to remain in port. [10] Hurricane warnings were later extended westward to High Island, Texas by June 27. [11] Although warnings were issued 24 hours before landfall, the acceleration of Audrey as it neared land surprised meteorologists and residents. [12]

In total, approximately 75,000 people evacuated from low-lying areas on the United States Gulf Coast in advance of Audrey. [13] Due to the threat of inundation of the bridge over Rollover Pass, 270 beach houses and homes on the lower end of Bolivar Peninsula were evacuated, with evacuees staying at either nearby Fort Travis or Port Bolivar. [14] Offshore oil rigs were secured, with hundreds of personnel evacuated by helicopter on June 26, including those operated by Kerr-McGee, Gulf Oil, and Humble Oil. [15] An estimated 50,000 people in total evacuated from Port Arthur, Texas, while all except two families evacuated Sabine, Texas; [16] about 2,000 people evacuated from Orange, Texas with another 1,000 evacuating from Beaumont, Texas. The American Red Cross opened fifteen shelters in Port Arthur which eventually housed 5,000. [17] [18] Four hundred children in church camps in Galveston were evacuated inland to Baytown, Texas. [19] A public shelter program was established for Louisiana evacuees by the state civil defense, invoking National Guard equipment; [11] all civil defense groups in the state were ordered to place key men on 24-hour duty. [20] Evacuation procedures began on Grand Isle, Louisiana on June 26, [15] culminating in the evacuation of 3,400 people; [11] however, 600 people opted to remain in Grand Isle. Most of Cameron, Louisiana was evacuated, while the remaining 12 sought refuge in the town's courthouse. [21] Red Cross shelters in Lake Charles, Louisiana housed 19,000 refugees and issued food rations to 30,000 people. [18] The United States Air Force and United States Navy evacuated 115  North American T-28 Trojans from Naval Outlying Field Barin in Alabama to Barksdale Air Force Base. [22] Similarly, aircraft and personnel were evacuated out of Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi and the Gulfport Combat Readiness Training Center in Gulfport, Mississippi. [23]

The high death toll caused by Audrey was partially blamed on the incompleteness of evacuations before the storm made landfall, attributed by meteorologist Robert Simpson to a lack of proper communication between coastal residents and forecasters. Although the Weather Bureau's advisories and warnings were technically accurate, they were determined by Bartie v. United States to have lacked a sense of urgency or emergency. [24] [25] The warnings advised the evacuation of "low or exposed areas," but many inland residents at an elevation of 7–8 ft (2.1–2.4 m) did not consider themselves to be at a low elevation. [25] In addition, newly elected city officials in Lake Charles, Louisiana edited warnings and advisories disseminated by a local radio broadcast, tailoring the bulletins to local residents by trimming details deemed irrelevant and possibly resulting in a hesitance to evacuate until it was too late. [26]

Impact

Summary of Audrey's impacts at landfall showing the extent of seawater inundation, winds, and rainfall Hurricane Audrey landfall summary map.jpg
Summary of Audrey's impacts at landfall showing the extent of seawater inundation, winds, and rainfall

The death toll from Audrey was over 500, with the cost of damage estimated between $150–200 million. [3] Other estimates indicated that the death toll amounted to 390, including 263 identified and 127 unidentified persons. An additional 192 people were reported as missing. [8] The National Weather Service report on the most impactful tropical cyclones in the United States lists Audrey as having caused at least 416 fatalities, [27] with an additional 15 killed in Canada. [28] [29] Audrey was the deadliest hurricane to strike the United States since the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane, which killed approximately 2,800, [27] and comparable to all storms affecting the country in the previous decade combined. [8] Nearly all deaths were attributed to storm surge drowning. [8]

Texas

The fishing vessel Keturah sank after colliding with an oil rig 11 mi (18 km) off of Galveston, Texas, leading to the loss of nine crewmen. [16] In the hours before the collision, the Keturah had been disabled and taken in tow by the USCGC Cahoone (WSC-131), but the tow line broke. [30] In Corpus Christi, where tides were 3–4 ft (0.91–1.22 m) above normal, a 400 ft (120 m) tanker, a tug, and a few barges washed aground. The surf also washed out a portion of Mustang Island Park Road between Corpus Christi Pass and Packery Channel. [31] Another person drowned in the rough surf off the Texas coast. [16] At Port Isabel, tides swelled 2.5 ft (0.76 m) above normal as Audrey passed to the east, though coastal flooding remained minimal. Periodic squalls impacted the Brownsville, Texas area without much consequence, [10] though the wave action on nearby Padre Island pushed marine debris beyond the seawall; [32] tides on Padre Island were the highest in five years. [33] The oil barge Pemrod broke from its mooring, leaving it adrift in Sabine Lake. [34]

In Galveston, the storm surge swelled to a height of 6.2 ft (1.9 m) above mean sea level; the total expanse of coast that saw tides higher than 6 ft (1.8 m) spanned 330 mi (530 km). [3] The surge topped the Galveston Seawall, flooding the downtown streets and inundating businesses. [19] [35] Several boats in Galveston Harbor were sunk. [35] A 0.75 mi (1.21 km) segment of Texas State Highway 87 between Sabine Pass and High Island was submerged underwater. [36] Despite the seawater inundation in some areas of Galveston Island, an extension of the Galveston Seawall completed in 1953 was assessed to have mitigated about $100,000 in damage from Audrey. [37] A fish market, crab depot, and a smaller shack were destroyed in Texas City, and the city's fishing pier sustained $5,000 in damage after being struck by a loose barge. [38] Two oil barges spanning 105 ft (32 m) were moved 2.5 mi (4.0 km) inland north of Gilchrist, Texas. [39]

Portions of eastern Texas were analyzed to have experienced high-end Category 2 conditions as Audrey made landfall just east of the state. [4] Winds reached 72 mph (116 km/h) in Port Arthur and 78 mph (126 km/h) in Galveston. [40] Plate glass windows in downtown Galveston were broken by flying debris, as were high-rise windows in Port Arthur. [19] [41] At least 50 homes on the Bolivar Peninsula were flattened. [42] Most roofs on the Bolivar Peninsula sustained substantial damage. [43] The most severe damage on the peninsula occurred in and around Gilchrist, where the majority of destroyed homes were located. [44] On the southern end of the Bolivar Peninsula, the effects of Audrey in Port Bolivar were limited to lost shingles. [44] Galveston Island fared comparatively better than the Bolivar Peninsula but nonetheless sustained some impacts. [43] Some beachfront establishments in Galveston were demolished by the strong winds and storm surge. The rough surf also washed out some segments of Galveston beaches, exacerbated by a local practice of digging holes to sell soil from private beachfront property. [44] Minor power outages knocked out service to some 1,700 telephones, but power was quickly restored. [45] Damage in Galveston County was estimated at $200,000–$300,000. [42] In nearby Orange, homes were damaged by falling trees felled by strong winds. Power and other utility lines were also downed, leaving only connectivity for emergency telephones and cutting most power to the city. [19] [35] Fifteen people were injured while one was killed in Orange. [42] At Jefferson County Airport, 7.35 in (187 mm) fell on June 27, setting a daily rainfall record. The monetary cost of Audrey's damage in Texas totaled $8 million, [31] with a conservative estimate of $1.5 million for Orange County alone. [46] A total of nine fatalities occurred in the state, [31] in addition to 450 injuries. [47]

Louisiana

Hurricane Audrey's strong winds generated rough seas offshore Louisiana, with wave heights of 40–50 ft (12–15 m) occurring in the Gulf of Mexico. [12] At the coast, tides ran 5–9 ft (1.5–2.7 m) above normal, inundating low-lying areas and penetrating as far as 20 mi (32 km) inland, [3] [11] resulting in over 1.6 million acres (6,500 km2) of land flooded by either storm surge or river flooding. [12] In Cameron, tides peaked at 10.6 ft (3.2 m) above mean sea level, with some waves reaching as high as 10 ft (3.0 m) atop the high water. [3] Tides exceeded 12 ft (3.7 m) for a 24 mi (39 km) stretch of the Louisiana coastline, [8] peaking at 12.4 ft (3.8 m) just west of Cameron. [12] Four Continental Oil sea tenders lost their anchors and went adrift in the rough seas. [8] Some drifting oil tenders also reported gusts reaching 150 mph (240 km/h). [13] A $2 million oil rig 15 mi (24 km) east of Sabine Pass capsized, though all crew survived. [42] Damage to offshore oil facilities caused by Audrey reached $16 million, though one offshore trade journal remarked that "the [oil] industry has scored an overwhelming though costly victory" due to the lack of industry-related fatalities and small extent of damage compared to coastal communities. [48] Beach erosion caused by rough surf stripped away as much as 90 m (300 ft) of beach. Wildlife along the coast was impacted heavily, with marshes stripped entirely of vegetation. Clumps of salt hay (Spartina patens) were brought as far as 8 km (5.0 mi) inland. [49]

Scattered damage occurred in Alexandria, with strong winds knocking out telecommunications and downing tree limbs. Winds were measured at 88 mph (142 km/h) in Lake Charles, Louisiana roughly 35 mi (56 km) northeast of Audrey's eye as it made landfall. [16] A gust was clocked at 105 mph (169 km/h) in Sulphur, Louisiana before the anemometer blew away, [8] though the highest sustained wind at an official observation site was 96 mph (154 km/h) at Lake Charles Air Force Base. [12] Communities along coastal Louisiana near the point of landfall were completely destroyed, [3] with 4,500 homes considered destroyed or irreparably damaged and another 100,000 sustaining varying degrees of lesser damage. In some towns west of the Atchafalaya River, 90% of homes lost their roofs. [50] In Cameron and Grand Chenier destroyed or displaced 60–80% of homes, [3] while between 90–95% of all buildings overall in Cameron and nearby Vermilion Parish were irreparably damaged. [12] Nearly every home in Lake Charles sustained some degree of damage. [42] The city of Cameron sustained the most damage, and 371 people in and around the city perished. [8] The city courthouse, where Cameron residents sought refuge, [12] remained the only building left standing in Cameron. [51] Wood-frame houses were swept by Audrey's storm surge and carried inland several miles from their original locations, with most found on the Intracoastal Waterway. Dead cattle, alligators, snakes, nutria, and muskrats were also deposited in the Intracoastal Waterway, blocking segments of the canal; [12] an estimated 40,000–50,000 head of cattle perished, primarily by drowning. [50] Several ships were carried well inland, causing damage; two 50 ft (15 m) long fishing boats were deposited on Cameron's Main Street (Louisiana Highway 82) while an offshore oil rig destroyed four fuel storage tanks as it was moved onshore. [12] Strong winds initially prevented the United States Coast Guard from rescuing stranded residents in the city and nearby areas after dispatching a helicopter and some lifeboats. [21] [52] Further east, Pecan Island was submerged under a foot (0.3 m) of seawater. Strong winds in Baton Rouge blew out windows in the Louisiana State Capitol. [12] One person was killed while clinging to debris after being bitten by a venomous water snake. [53]

Saltwater inundation was particularly damaging to rice, while strong winds blew down corn and heavy rains flooded cotton fields; these were the main crop losses attributed to Audrey. In Louisiana, preliminary estimates of crop damage reached $5 million. [54] Forests were also heavily impacted, with an estimated 50,000,000 ft (15,000,000 m) of timber lost primarily in the parishes of Jeff Davis, Allen, Evangeline, and LaSalle. [50] Poisoning efforts that had begun prior to Audrey's arrival to mitigate a boll weevil infestation were disrupted, leading to resurgence in boll weevils following the hurricane. [50] The highest rainfall associated with Audrey fell in Louisiana, where 10.63 in (270 mm) was recorded just west of Basile, Louisiana; most of the heaviest rainfall occurred east of Audrey's center of circulation. [55] Daily rainfall records were set in Jennings and Lafayette, recording 10.40 in (264 mm) and 3.69 in (94 mm) on June 27, respectively. [56] Audrey also spawned two tornadoes in Louisiana, with one F-1 tornado near Arnaudville, Louisiana damaging several homes and the other classified as F-0 in New Orleans. [57] [12] [58] In total, damage from Hurricane Audrey in Louisiana amounted to $120 million. [12] An estimated 400 people lost their lives in the state, accounting for most of the deaths attributed to Audrey, while another 1,000 were injured. [31] [50]

Elsewhere in the United States

Rainfall caused by Audrey and a concurrent second disturbance over the Midwestern United States Audrey 1957 rainfall.gif
Rainfall caused by Audrey and a concurrent second disturbance over the Midwestern United States

Audrey produced 23 tornadoes and severe weather in its rainbands as it moved inland. [59] [3] Sixteen of the twenty-three tornadoes touched down in Alabama; [58] a conducive environment over the southern half of the state that took shape as Audrey passed to the northwest, resulting in a localized tornado outbreak causing $600,000 in damage and injuring 14 people. [3] [54] A particularly damaging tornado struck parts of Greenville, Alabama, damaging or destroying 60 buildings including some of the facilities at Lomax-Hannon Junior College; damage from that tornado alone was estimated to be as high as $300,000. [60] Several tornadoes struck in the vicinity of Evergreen, Alabama, damaging several homes and injuring eight persons; [57] one of the tornadoes tracked 23.2 mi (37.3 km) and was 440 yd (400 m) across at its widest, making it both the longest-tracked and widest tornado caused by Hurricane Audrey. [58] Another tornado near Evergreen also swept up fish and crayfish, causing them to fall from the sky. [57] Strong winds in Montgomery, Alabama uprooted trees, while 20 mi (32 km) south in Davenport, Alabama winds damaged a number of homes and injured several people. [61] Gusts in the state peaked at 71 mph (114 km/h) in Birmingham, Alabama, and wind damage alone caused $200,000 in damage in the state. [54]

On the Mississippi Gulf Coast, winds and tidal action caused some damage. However, the most severe damage in Mississippi occurred in a band stretching from the southwestern to northeastern corner of the state. [62] Four tornadoes touched down in the state resulting in slightly over $500,000 in damage; [62] a tornado of F-2 intensity near Philadelphia, Mississippi destroyed seven homes and caused nine injuries, [57] [63] [64] while an F-3 tornado—the strongest caused by Audrey—killed one in Brooksville. [54] [58] The Brooksville tornado also destroyed a Kraft Singles plant in the western side of the city and hospitalized six people, with another 25 suffering minor injuries; damage from that tornado was estimated between $100,000–$300,000. [65] Another tornado destroyed a grocery store and several large buildings in Clara. [66] The strongest winds in Mississippi were measured in Jackson and Greenwood, clocking at 52 mph (84 km/h). Mississippi's southwestern regions saw the heaviest rainfall in the state from Audrey, with rainfall totals ranging from 4–6 in (100–150 mm). Heavy rains caused minor flooding along the banks of the Pearl River and Big Black River, affecting some farm lands. [62] One person was electrocuted in Kosciusko after attempting to upright a utility pole, bringing the number of fatalities in the state to two. [62] The total cost of damage in the state was $9 million, and 50,000 homes sustained some form of damage. [13] Loss of crops in Mississippi totaled $2 million with corn, cotton, hay, and unharvested oats heavily damaged. [54] [62] As was the case in Louisiana, boll weevil poisoning efforts were thwarted in Mississippi. [62]

Damage from Audrey in Arkansas was limited to minor roof damage caused by strong winds in El Dorado. [67] The fringe effects of Audrey's remnant wind field and rainfall also extended to Georgia, where wind damage was light but widespread. Peaches were blown down from trees and corn was blown over. Falling trees and branches damaged homes and disrupted electric and telecommunication services. [68]

Tracking farther inland, the weakening storm brought gusts of up to 50 mph (80 km/h) to Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio, resulting in minor wind damage. Rainfall in these states produced minor flooding along streams and low-lying farmland, exacerbated by antecedent rainfall that had saturated the soil. [54] Across Tennessee, property or crop damage associated with strong winds was reported in eleven counties, with property damage mostly being inflicted on roofs, trees, power lines, TV antennas, and other minor structures; one death and three injuries were linked to these winds. [69] A tornado destroyed a saw mill, a barn, and several other buildings near Dyersburg, Tennessee, the most northerly tornado associated with Audrey. [58] [57] [70]

The interaction of Audrey and a second frontal system tracking across the Midwestern United States drew excess moisture across the region, leading to heavy rainfall across Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. Rainfall in those states peaked at 10.20 in (259 mm) in Paris, Illinois, with a similar maximum of 10.16 in (258 mm) in Hermann, Missouri. [55] The rains in Paris, Illinois contributed to the rainiest June in the city's history and a yearly record rainfall total. [71] Highways in Illinois were submerged for as long as three days. [54] Flash flooding in central Indiana led to the closure of 17 highways. Two women drowned after a bus was swept off one highway near Indianapolis, Indiana, where over 3 in (76 mm) of rain quickly fell. [72] Another three drowned in Indiana, in addition to the inundation of over 1,000 homes and 125 businesses. Flooding washed away roughly 500,000 acres (2,000 km2) of crops and destroyed highway and railroad bridges. An 18-car work train fell into a creek near Reelsville, Indiana after the bridge it was crossing succumbed to floodwaters. Railroad losses alone accounted for $1.2 million of the $2.45 million in damage wrought by Audrey in Indiana. [54]

A total of ten lives were lost in Illinois, Indiana, and New York due to heavy rains and strong winds brought by squalls in Audrey's extratropical remnants. [8] [3] Winds peaked at 65 mph (105 km/h) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and 100 mph (160 km/h) in Jamestown, New York. [8] Damage in Pennsylvania was limited to the state's western regions and confined primarily to the downing of trees, powerlines, and the loss of some roofs. One person was killed by lightning while another was injured by a falling tree. Areas of New York near Lake Ontario experienced intense wind gusts that caused widespread power outages. The winds raised the water level in the lake 3 ft (0.91 m) above normal, damaging small boats. The rise in Lake Ontario also damaged sightseeing facilities and river docks downstream of the Niagara Falls; total damage in New York was estimated at between $250,000–$400,000 and four deaths were reported in the state. [54] Hurricane-force winds extended as far east as St. Albans, Vermont, where winds were measured at 80 mph (130 km/h). Across New England, power lines were downed while yachts were driven aground on the coast of Maine. [73]

Canada

The remnants of Audrey entered Ontario with tropical storm force winds after crossing Lake Ontario, while gusts reached 80 mph (130 km/h). [3] Heavy rainfall in the province washed out roads and rail lines. Six people were trapped in Algonquin Provincial Park for four days due to dangerous river currents and downed trees blocking roads. One boy drowned and a firefighter died due to the storm, while three other people died in Ontario due to traffic accidents. In neighboring Quebec, the remnants of Audrey were considered the worst storm in about 20 years, and over 100 houses were damaged by floods. The Montreal district of Saraguay lost power for several days. Throughout Montreal, there were 10 deaths, nine of which due to traffic accidents. [28] This made Audrey the deadliest tropical cyclone in Quebec on record. [29]

Aftermath

A meritorious citation awarded by the Louisiana Civil Defense Agency to the Weather Bureau office in Lake Charles, Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Audrey Weather Bureau Lake Charles meritorious citation after Hurricane Audrey.jpg
A meritorious citation awarded by the Louisiana Civil Defense Agency to the Weather Bureau office in Lake Charles, Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Audrey

Rescue parties from the United States Coast Guard were quickly dispatched for the Cameron area in search for survivors. The Coast Guard also dispatched a cutter from New Orleans with medical supplies for affected regions. [74] More than 40,000 people were left homeless, with many were housed at McNeese State University in Lake Charles until they could be permanently resettled. [53] Statues were erected in honor of those killed by Audrey in southwestern Louisiana, including Highland Memorial Park in Lake Charles where 33 were buried. [75]

Audrey's storm surge on the Louisiana coastline began receding 10 hours after the storm struck, with the ocean returning to normal levels in around 1.5 days. Despite the brief period of submersion, the morphology of the coast changed significantly; about 50% of the coast had retreated inland, with a large amount of sedimentation occurring primarily in the form of mudflats. [76] One arc of mud deposited on the coast measured 11,350 ft (3,460 m) in length and 1,000 ft (300 m) in width. [77] In Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge, saltwater inundation of habitats led to a significant decrease in waterfowl and plants susceptible to saltwater like bullwhips; damage in the refuge set back management and development plans for the area by two years. [78] Other plants intolerant to saltwater sustained a four-year decrease in productivity. [49] Nutria, muskrat, raccoon, rabbit, and deer populations experienced 60% mortality, while mink and otters fared comparatively better. All animal nests were swept away by either the rough surf or strong winds. [78]

The destruction wrought by Audrey on Cameron, Louisiana was credited as contributing to the successful evacuation of Cameron Parish in advance of Hurricane Carla four years later, with the parish having a higher evacuation rate (96%) than any other location surveyed in the aftermath of Carla despite being at the edge of the warning area; however, the relevance of the so-called "Audrey effect" in the Carla evacuations is disputed. [79]

The extensive storm surge caused the hurricane represented the first research opportunity for the newly-formed National Hurricane Research Project (NHRP) to investigate a major tropical cyclone inundation event since the organization's inception in 1954. After investigating the extent of the surge, the NHRP concluded that despite the abundant availability of storm tide observations, a lack of inland information prevented a detailed reconstruction of Audrey's surge; such data would help inform local emergency decisions and improve surge forecasting. Following the guidance of the NHRP, the Weather Bureau began installing additional tide recorders along the coast following Hurricane Audrey. [80]

Due to the damage and fatalities caused by Audrey, the name was retired and will never be used again as a name for a tropical cyclone. [24]

Bartie v. United States (1963)

In 1962, Whitney Bartie, along with hundreds of others, sued the United States federal government, asserting that the United States Weather Bureau had failed to give proper and accurate warning on Audrey and its effects. Bartie and his family had concluded that there was no need to evacuate following a 10:00 p.m. CST news broadcast on June 26—the night before Audrey made landfall. The family were awoken the following morning by water flooding their house, forcing them to climb onto their roof; the winds and rising water killed all in Bartie's family except Whitney. [81] Whitney's claim was two-pronged, with the first point alleging that the Weather Bureau was negligent in their warnings, and the second alleging that despite experiencing the full brunt of the storm, Weather Bureau advisories suggesting the evacuation of those at lower elevations did not implicate him; Whitney sought $360,000 in damages from the federal government. [82] A hurricane expert testifying for the Weather Bureau suggested that Audrey's deviation from forecast were as accurate as could be expected at a time where a 24-hour hurricane forecast track errors averaged 100–125 mi (161–201 km). [81]

The case was argued in the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana and presided by Edwin F. Hunter. [83] The court ruled that the Weather Bureau failed to convey the urgency of the situation to those on the coast in their warnings, but asserted that evacuation orders were not within the duties of the Weather Bureau. The case was dismissed on the grounds that the claim was barred by the discretionary function and misrepresentation exception in the Federal Tort Claims Act as the Weather Bureau's warnings were based on subjective judgements and errors were unintentional; [81] thus, Hunter ruled that Whitney had failed to establish negligence on the part of the Weather Bureau. [82] Following the dismissal, Whitney appealed the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which ruled per curiam in favor of the United States in Bartie v. United States 326 F.2d 754 (1964). [84] Another 109 suits similar to Bartie seeking total damages of $9,755,000 were filed in federal court but did not come to trial. [85]

Notes

  1. A major hurricane is a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of at least 111 mph (179 km/h), or a Category 3 or higher on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane scale. [1]
  2. All damage totals are in 1957  United States dollars unless otherwise noted.

See also

Storms affecting similar areas
Other strong June hurricanes

Related Research Articles

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Hurricane Jerry Category 1 Atlantic hurricane in 1989

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1915 Galveston hurricane Category 4 Atlantic hurricane in 1915

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Tropical Storm Abby (1964)

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Tropical Storm Debra (1978) Atlantic tropical storm in 1978

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Hurricane Andrew Category 5 Atlantic hurricane in 1992

Hurricane Andrew was a powerful and destructive Category 5 Atlantic hurricane that struck the Bahamas, Florida, and Louisiana in August 1992. It was the most destructive hurricane to ever hit Florida until Hurricane Irma surpassed it 25 years later. It was the strongest landfalling hurricane in decades and the costliest hurricane to make landfall anywhere in the United States, until it was surpassed by Katrina in 2005. Andrew caused major damage in the Bahamas and Louisiana, but the greatest impact was felt in South Florida, where the storm made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane, with 1-minute sustained wind speeds as high as 165 mph (270 km/h). Passing directly through the city of Homestead in Dade County, Andrew stripped many homes of all but their concrete foundations. In total, Andrew destroyed more than 63,500 houses, damaged more than 124,000 others, caused $27.3 billion in damage, and left 65 people dead.

1920 Louisiana hurricane Category 2 Atlantic hurricane in 1920

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References

  1. National Hurricane Center (July 11, 2010). "Glossary of NHC Terms". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Archived from the original on June 28, 2011. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
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