Tropical Storm Gilda (1973)

Last updated
Tropical Storm Gilda
Tropical storm (SSHWS/NWS)
Gilda 73.JPG
Tropical Storm Gilda near Cuba
FormedOctober 16, 1973
DissipatedOctober 27, 1973
Highest winds 1-minute sustained: 70 mph (110 km/h)
Lowest pressure984 mbar (hPa); 29.06 inHg
Fatalities6 direct
Areas affected Jamaica, Cuba, Bahamas, East Coast of the United States, Atlantic Canada
Part of the 1973 Atlantic hurricane season

Tropical Storm Gilda in 1973 was the first documented tropical cyclone on record to transition into a subtropical cyclone. It formed on October 16 in the western Caribbean Sea from a tropical wave, and strengthened to reach peak winds of 70 mph (110 km/h) before striking Cuba. It later moved slowly through the Bahamas before weakening to tropical depression status. On October 24, with the assistance of a cold front off the coast of the eastern United States, Gilda transformed into a subtropical storm, becoming very large and strong. The storm later accelerated northeastward and became extratropical, ultimately dissipating near Greenland.

Contents

The storm first brought heavy rainfall to Jamaica, causing six deaths and some damage from mudslides. While crossing Cuba and later the Bahamas, the storm caused little impact, limited to some crop damage. As a subtropical storm, Gilda brought gusty winds and high waves to much of the east coast of the United States, causing minor beach erosion and coastal property damage.

Storm history

Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir-Simpson scale Gilda 1973 track.png
Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale

A tropical wave moved off the west coast of Africa on October 3. It tracked westward, reaching the Caribbean Sea on October 10. By October 13, a large area of convection persisted from Hispaniola southwestward through Panama, and over the next few days the convection organized and concentrated in the northwestern Caribbean Sea. An anticyclone became established near Jamaica on October 15, which created a favorable upper-level environment for the system by reducing wind shear. [1] Around the same time, a low-level trough emerged from the Intertropical Convergence Zone, heading north off the coast of Nicaragua. [2] Early on October 16, the system developed into a broad tropical depression about halfway between Central America and Jamaica. [1] [3]

The initial motion of the depression was uncertain, as steering currents could have resulted in a motion either to the west or to the north-northeast. With the possibility of the western track, the storm was remarked as being the first serious hurricane threat for southern Florida since Hurricane Gladys in 1968. However, after formation the depression moved slowly north-northeastward. [1] The thunderstorm activity gradually became better organized while rainbands increased around the circulation. [2] By 0000  UTC on October 18, the depression attained tropical storm status about 100 mi (160 km) northwest of the Cayman Islands, after which it was named Gilda by the National Hurricane Center (NHC). The storm quickly strengthened as it moved toward southern Cuba, reaching peak winds of 70 mph (110 km/h) about 18 hours after reaching tropical storm status. Shortly thereafter, Gilda made landfall near the border of the present day Cuban provinces of Sancti Spíritus and Ciego de Ávila. [3]

Tropical Storm Gilda weakened slightly over Cuba, crossing the island in less than twelve hours before emerging into the Atlantic Ocean early on October 19. [3] At the time, the anticyclone over Jamaica which previously assisted the cyclone instead remained over the Caribbean, which increased shear over the storm. This caused the convection to gradually separate from the low-level circulation. [1] Early on October 20, Gilda passed just southeast of Andros Island in the Bahamas, [3] around the same time that the Hurricane Hunters recorded an atmospheric pressure of 994  mbar; [2] this was the lowest recorded pressure in association with Gilda while it was a tropical cyclone. [3] It gradually weakened due to the wind shear, resulting in the low-level steering currents becoming dominant. [1] After moving through the Exuma island chain, the storm passed near or over Eleuthera, and late on October 21 Gilda became nearly stationary about 60 mi (95 km/h) east of Harbour Island. Late on October 22, after moving only about 6 mi (10 km) in a 24‑hour period, Gilda weakened to a tropical depression. [3]

Now a tropical depression, Gilda remained nearly stationary for another 24 hours before accelerating northeastward, [3] under the influence of an upper-level trough exiting the east coast of the United States. Cold air from the trough interacted with Gilda, providing a baroclinic environment for intensifying, and on October 24 the storm transitioned into a subtropical storm about halfway between Hispaniola and North Carolina. This made Gilda the first tropical storm on record to transition into a subtropical cyclone. Operationally, tropical storm advisories were still issued on Gilda while it was subtropical, due to the need to maintain consistency and the possibility it could again become tropical. The circulation of the storm became very large, at one point stretching from New England to the Bahamas, and eastward beyond Bermuda, or a diameter of more than 1300 mi (2100 km). On October 25, Gilda passed about halfway between Bermuda and Cape Hatteras, when it reached peak winds of 70 mph (110 km/h). Subsequently, it turned northeastward, and on October 27 attained a minimum pressure of 984 mbar, the lowest of its duration while tropical or subtropical. Later that day, Gilda became an extratropical cyclone southeast of the Canadian Maritimes as it moved over colder waters. After passing just southeast of Newfoundland, the storm continued northeastward, becoming nearly stationary off the coast of Greenland before dissipating on October 30. [1]

Preparations, impact, and records

Gilda as a subtropical storm near the United States SS Gilda 73.JPG
Gilda as a subtropical storm near the United States

Tropical Storm Gilda first affected Jamaica, bringing heavy rainfall in a three-day period. The highest amount measured in a 24‑hour period within Jamaica was 411 millimetres (16.2 in), which triggered many landslides across eastern sections of the island. [4] The rains produced landslides, particularly in Saint Andrew Parish where six houses were destroyed. Elsewhere on the island, the mudslides caused further property damage and left some roads unpassable. [5] Six people were killed throughout the country. [6] The storm did not have significant impact in Cuba. A station in the mountains of what was then known as Oriente Province recorded winds of 60 mph (95 km/h). The city of Morón, located along the northern coast of Cuba, recorded 6.13 inches (155 mm) of rainfall in the 6 hour period prior to the storm passing the area. [1] Damage was minor, [1] limited to some crop damage in the eastern portion of the island, [7] as well as power outages. The threat of the storm forced several thousand people to leave their homes. [8]

In the Bahamas, officials closed schools, and many businesses closed early on the day the storm moved through the country. [7] The storm's stationary motion caused several days of high tides and heavy rains. Tropical storm force wind gusts were reported on Andros Island, and gusts peaked at 75 mph (120 km/h) on Golden Cay. Gilda's passage left crop damage on several islands, although monetary losses in the country were minor. [1]

When Gilda was forecast to move near southeastern Florida, gale warnings were issued from North Key Largo to Fort Lauderdale. Rough seas affected the Florida coastline for about 72 hours, causing moderate coastal property damage and beach erosion. [1] After becoming a large subtropical cyclone, gale warnings were issued at various times from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina to the mouth of the Merrimack River in Massachusetts. High surf and minor beach erosion were reported along the coastline, and gale-force winds were observed from North Carolina to New Jersey. [1] Over the western Atlantic Ocean, the storm produced strong winds and rough seas. One ship reported a wave height of 28 ft (8.5 m), though no significant marine losses were reported. Around the time of it becoming extratropical, Sable Island off the coast of Nova Scotia recorded a wind gust of 74 mph (119 km/h). [1]

Tropical Storm Gilda was notable as being the first observed tropical cyclone to transition into a subtropical cyclone; several subtropical cyclones have undergone tropical cyclogenesis, but never the opposite. Since Gilda, a few other storms accomplished the feat. In 1980, a tropical depression dissipated, reformed as a subtropical depression, and later became Hurricane Georges over the open Atlantic Ocean. The next year, Tropical Storm Jose became subtropical near the end of its duration, and in 1984, Hurricane Klaus became a subtropical storm over the western Atlantic Ocean. In 2001, Tropical Storm Allison, after causing devastating flooding in Texas, became a subtropical storm over the Gulf of Mexico and moved across much of the southeastern United States. [3] In 2011, Tropical Storm Lee transitioned into a subtropical storm while approaching Louisiana.

See also

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Paul J. Hebert & Neil L. Frank (April 1974). "Atlantic Hurricane Season of 1973". Monthly Weather Review. 102 (4): 280–289. Bibcode:1974MWRv..102..280H. doi: 10.1175/1520-0493(1974)102<0280:AHSO>2.0.CO;2 .
  2. 1 2 3 A.C. Pike (1973). "Tropical Storm Gilda Preliminary Report (Folder)". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-11-14.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Atlantic hurricane best track (HURDAT version 2)" (Database). United States National Hurricane Center. May 25, 2020.
  4. Ahmad, Rafi, Lawrence Brown, Jamaica National Meteorological Service (2006-01-10). "Assessment of Rainfall Characteristics and Landslide Hazards in Jamaica" (PDF). University of Wisconsin. p. 27. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2012-06-06.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. Rafi Ahmad; et al. (1999-01-27). "Landslide Hazard Mitigation and Loss-reduction for the Kingston Jamaica Metropolitan Area". Caribbean Disaster Mitigation Project. Retrieved 2008-11-16.
  6. Jamaica Government's Office of Disaster Preparedness (2003). "Natural Disasters in Jamaica: 1692-1988" . Retrieved 2008-11-16.
  7. 1 2 Staff Writer (1973-10-20). "Tropical Storm Gilda Headed for Bahamas". Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-11-16.[ permanent dead link ]
  8. Staff Writer (1973-10-19). "Tropical Storm Gilda News Report". Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-11-16.[ permanent dead link ]

Related Research Articles

1961 Atlantic hurricane season Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1961 Atlantic hurricane season was an extremely active Atlantic hurricane season, with an accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) total of 205. The season, however, was only a moderately above average one in terms of named storms. The season did feature 8 hurricanes and a well above average number of 5 major hurricanes. The season featured a record-tying five category 4 hurricanes, tying 1999, 2005, and 2020. Two category 5 hurricanes were seen in 1961, making it one of only seven Atlantic hurricane seasons to feature more than one category 5 hurricane in one season. The season started on June 15, and ended on November 15. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. The first system, Hurricane Anna, developed in the eastern Caribbean Sea near the Windward Islands on July 20. It brought minor damage to the islands, as well as wind and flood impacts to Central America after striking Belize as a hurricane. Anna caused one death and about $300,000 (1961 USD) in damage. Activity went dormant for nearly a month and a half, until Hurricane Betsy developed on September 2. Betsy peaked as a Category 4 hurricane, but remained at sea and caused no impact.

1963 Atlantic hurricane season Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1963 Atlantic hurricane season featured one of the deadliest tropical cyclones on record in the Atlantic basin: Hurricane Flora. The season officially began on June 15, and lasted until November 15. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. It was an season in terms of tropical storms, with a total of ten nameable storms. The first system, an unnamed tropical storm, developed over the Bahamas on June 1. In late July, Hurricane Arlene, developed between Cape Verde and the Lesser Antilles. The storm later impacted Bermuda, where strong winds resulted in about $300,000 (1963 USD) in damage. Other storms such as hurricanes Beulah and Debra, as well as an unnamed tropical storm, did not impact land. During the month of September, Tropical Storm Cindy caused wind damage and flooding in Texas, leaving three deaths and approximately $12.5 million in damage. Hurricane Edith passed through the Lesser Antilles and the eastern Greater Antilles, causing 10 deaths and about $43 million in damage, most of which occurred on Martinique.

1968 Atlantic hurricane season Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1968 Atlantic hurricane season was one of five Atlantic hurricane seasons during the satellite era not to feature a major hurricane, the others being 1972, 1986, 1994, and 2013, and was one of two to not feature a category 2 hurricane either, with the other being 2013. The season officially began on June 1 and lasted until November 30, dates which conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. It was a below average season in terms of tropical storms, with a total of eight nameable storms. The first system, Hurricane Abby, developed in the northwestern Caribbean on June 1. Abby moved northward and struck Cuba, bringing heavy rainfall and flooding to western portions of the island. Making landfall in Florida on June 4, Abby caused flooding and spawned four tornadoes, but left behind little damage. Overall, the hurricane resulted in six deaths and about $450,000 (1968 USD) in damage. In late June, Tropical Storm Candy brought minor flooding and spawned several tornadoes across portions of the Southern United States. Overall damage from the cyclone reached approximately $2.7 million.

1969 Atlantic hurricane season Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1969 Atlantic hurricane season was the most active Atlantic hurricane season since 1933 and is tied with 2019 as the fifth most active Atlantic hurricane season on record, and was also the final year of the most recent positive Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) era. The hurricane season officially began on June 1, and lasted until November 30. The season had the highest number of systems reach hurricane status – twelve – in a single season, until that record was surpassed in 2005. The season was above-average despite an El Niño, which typically suppresses activity in the Atlantic Ocean, while increasing tropical cyclone activity in the Pacific Ocean. Activity began with a series of five tropical depressions, the first of which developed on May 29. The third system in that series, Tropical Depression Seven, caused extensive flooding in Cuba and Jamaica in early June. The final in the series formed on July 25, the same day that Tropical Storm Anna developed. Neither the former nor latter caused significant impact on land. Later in the season, Tropical Depression Twenty-Nine caused severe local flooding in the Florida Panhandle and southwestern Georgia in September. Hurricane Blanche was a small and short-lived tropical cyclone in mid-August that resulted in minimal effects.

1992 Atlantic hurricane season Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1992 Atlantic hurricane season was a highly below average season. It featured Hurricane Andrew, the costliest Atlantic hurricane known at the time, surpassing Hugo of 1989 and later surpassed by Katrina of 2005, as well as Hurricane Bonnie, the latest second named storm on record since tropical cyclones in the Atlantic were first named in 1950, when it formed on September 17. The season officially began on June 1, 1992, and lasted until November 30, 1992. The first storm, an unnamed subtropical storm, developed in the central Atlantic on April 21, over a month before the official start of hurricane season. On August 16, Hurricane Andrew formed and would later strike the Bahamas, as well U.S. States of Florida and Louisiana, becoming the costliest Atlantic hurricane on record until the record was surpassed just over 13 years later. Andrew caused $27.3 billion, with most of the damages being done in Florida, as well as 65 fatalities. In addition, Andrew was also the strongest hurricane of the season, reaching winds of 175 mph (282 km/h) while approaching Florida.

1973 Atlantic hurricane season Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1973 Atlantic hurricane season was the first season to use the Saffir–Simpson hurricane scale, a scale developed in 1971 by Herbert Saffir and Robert Simpson to rate the intensity of tropical cyclones. The season produced 24 tropical and subtropical cyclones, of which only 8 reached storm intensity, 4 became hurricanes, and only 1 reached major hurricane status. Although more active than the 1972 season, 1973 brought few storms of note. Nearly half of the season's storms affected land, one of which resulted in severe damage.

1974 Atlantic hurricane season Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1974 Atlantic hurricane season featured Hurricane Fifi, the deadliest Atlantic tropical cyclone since the 1900 Galveston hurricane. The season officially began on June 1 and lasted until November 30. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. The first system, a tropical depression, developed over the Bay of Campeche on June 22 and dissipated by June 26. The season had near average activity, with eleven total storms forming, of which four became hurricanes. Two of those four became major hurricanes, which are Category 3 or higher on the Saffir–Simpson scale.

1976 Atlantic hurricane season Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1976 Atlantic hurricane season featured only one fully tropical storm throughout both the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, a rare occurrence. The season officially began on June 1 and lasted until November 30. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. However, the first system, a subtropical storm, developed in the Gulf of Mexico on May 21, several days before the official start of the season. The system spawned nine tornadoes in Florida, resulting in about $628,000 (1976 USD) in damage, though impact was minor otherwise. The season was near average, with ten tropical storm forming, of which six became hurricanes. Two of those six became major hurricanes, which are Category 3 or higher on the Saffir–Simpson scale.

1979 Atlantic hurricane season Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1979 Atlantic hurricane season was the first season to include both male and female names, as well as the common six-year rotating lists of tropical cyclone names. The season officially began on June 1, and lasted until November 30. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. It was slightly below average, with nine systems reaching tropical storm intensity. The first system, an unnumbered tropical depression, developed north of Puerto Rico on June 9. Two days later, Tropical Depression One formed and produced severe flooding in Jamaica, with 40 deaths and about $27 million (1979 USD) in damage. Tropical Storm Ana caused minimal impact in the Lesser Antilles. Hurricane Bob spawned tornadoes and produced minor wind damage along the Gulf Coast of the United States, primarily in Louisiana, while the remnants caused flooding, especially in Indiana. Tropical Storm Claudette caused extensive flooding, due to torrential rainfall. There were two deaths and damaged totaled $750 million.

1981 Atlantic hurricane season Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1981 Atlantic hurricane season was a fairly active season that featured 22 tropical depressions and 12 storms. The season officially began on June 1, 1981, and lasted until November 30, 1981. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. Almost all of the named storms made landfall. Cindy, Harvey, and Irene did not affect land, either directly or indirectly.

1951 Atlantic hurricane season Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1951 Atlantic hurricane season was the first hurricane season in which tropical cyclones were officially named by the United States Weather Bureau. The season officially started on June 15, when the United States Weather Bureau began its daily monitoring for tropical cyclone activity; the season officially ended on November 15. It was the first year since 1937 in which no hurricanes made landfall on the United States; as Hurricane How was the only tropical storm to hit the nation, the season had the least tropical cyclone damage in the United States since the 1939 season. As in the 1950 season, names from the Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet were used to name storms this season.

1944 Atlantic hurricane season Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1944 Atlantic hurricane season featured the first instance of upper-tropospheric observations from radiosonde – a telemetry device used to record weather data in the atmosphere – being incorporated into tropical cyclone track forecasting for a fully developed hurricane. The season officially began on June 15, 1944, and ended on November 15, 1944. These dates describe the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. The season's first cyclone developed on July 13, while the final system became an extratropical cyclone by November 13. The season was fairly active season, with 14 tropical storms, 8 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. In real-time, forecasters at the Weather Bureau tracked eleven tropical storms, but later analysis uncovered evidence of three previously unclassified tropical storms.

1939 Atlantic hurricane season Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1939 Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 12, 1939, and lasted until November 7, 1939. These dates mark the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. The 1939 season had below normal activity, with only six tropical storms, of which two became hurricanes and one became a major hurricane, equivalent to Category 3 status or higher on the modern-day Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. The first tropical cyclone formed on June 12, and the last dissipated on November 6.

1935 Atlantic hurricane season Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1935 Atlantic hurricane season included the Labor Day hurricane, the most intense tropical cyclone to ever strike the United States or any landmass in the Atlantic basin. The season ran from June 1 through November 15, 1935. Ten tropical cyclone developed, eight of which intensified into tropical storms. Five of the tropical storms strengthened into hurricanes, while three of those reached major hurricane intensity. The season was near-normal for activity and featured five notable systems. The second storm of the season sank many ships and vessels offshore Newfoundland, causing 50 fatalities. In early September, the Labor Day hurricane struck Florida twice – the first time as a Category 5 hurricane – resulting in about 490 deaths and $100 million (1935 USD) in damage along its path.

1919 Atlantic hurricane season Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1919 Atlantic hurricane season was among the least active hurricane seasons in the Atlantic on record, featuring only five tropical storms. Of those five tropical cyclones, two of them intensified into a hurricane, with one strengthening into a major hurricane Two tropical depressions developed in the month of June, both of which caused negligible damage. A tropical storm in July brought minor damage to Pensacola, Florida, but devastated a fleet of ships. Another two tropical depressions formed in August, the first of which brought rainfall to the Lesser Antilles.

1909 Atlantic hurricane season Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1909 Atlantic hurricane season was an average Atlantic hurricane season. The season produced eleven tropical cyclones, of which all eleven became tropical storms; six became hurricanes, and four of those strengthened into major hurricanes. The season's first storm developed on June 15 while the last storm transitioned into an extratropical cyclone on November 14. The most notable storm during the season formed in late August, while east of the Lesser Antilles. The hurricane devastated the Lesser Antilles, the Greater Antilles, and Mexico, leaving around 4,000 fatalities and more than $50 million (1909 USD) in damage.

1908 Atlantic hurricane season Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1908 Atlantic hurricane season ran from June 1 to November 30 in 1908. These dates conventionally delimit the year in which most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. However, this season got off to a very early start, with a Category 2 hurricane forming on March 6, making it the third earliest hurricane on record to form in the Atlantic Basin after Hurricane One in 1938 and Hurricane Alex in 2016. It is the only known Atlantic tropical cyclone to exist in the month of March. Another hurricane formed and existed during the last week of May, and became the earliest hurricane to hit the U.S. in recorded history. Cape Hatteras was affected by two hurricanes and one tropical storm this year. Overall, this season was near average with 10 tropical storms forming.

1901 Atlantic hurricane season Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1901 Atlantic hurricane season was the most active season without a major hurricane – tropical cyclones that reach at least Category 3 on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale – until 2013. The first system was initially observed in the northeastern Caribbean on June 11. The fourteenth and final system transitioned into an extratropical cyclone near Bermuda on November 5. These dates fall within the period with the most tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic. Eight of the fourteen tropical cyclones existed simultaneously.

1899 Atlantic hurricane season Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1899 Atlantic hurricane season featured the longest-lasting tropical cyclone in the Atlantic basin on record. There were nine tropical storms, of which five became hurricanes. Two of those strengthened into major hurricanes, which are Category 3 or higher on the modern day Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale. The first system was initially observed in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico on June 26. The tenth and final system dissipated near Bermuda on November 10. These dates fall within the period with the most tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic. In post-season analysis, two tropical cyclones that existed in October were added to HURDAT – the official Atlantic hurricane database. At one point during the season, September 3 through the following day, a set of three tropical cyclones existed simultaneously.

1987 Atlantic hurricane season Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1987 Atlantic hurricane season was a below-average hurricane season that was limited by an ongoing El Niño. The season officially began on June 1, 1987, and lasted until November 30, 1987, although activity began on May 24 when a tropical depression developed 400 mi (640 km) east of the central Bahamas. The June through November dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. The first cyclone to attain tropical storm status was an unnamed tropical storm which formed on August 9, nearly a month later than usual. The final storm of the year, Tropical Depression Fourteen, merged with a weak extratropical low on November 4. The season marked the first year tropical storm watches and warnings were issued; previously, gale watches and warnings were used for tropical storms, and this season was one of only a few seasons with no deaths in the United States; the last time this happened was in the 1981 season.