Chronological Listing of Tropical Cyclones affecting North Florida and Coastal Georgia 1565-1899


Al Sandrik, Senior Forecaster

NOAA, National Weather Service, Southern Region,

NWSFO, Jacksonville, Florida

13701 FANG Dr. Jacksonville, Florida, 32218

Phone: 904-741-4411

FAX: 904-741-0078

E-mail comments to: Al.Sandrik@noaa.gov


Christopher W. Landsea

NOAA/Hurricane Research Division,

4301 Rickenbacker Causeway,

Miami, Florida 33149

Phone: 305-361-4357

E-mail: Chris.Landsea@noaa.gov


Last Updated: May 2003


Introduction


            This chronology is a portion of an ongoing re-analysis project for tropical cyclone events along the Georgia and northeast Florida coasts, including inland north Florida and southeast Georgia. The domain for this study ranges from Savannah, Georgia in the north to Flagler Beach, Florida in the south, the adjacent coastal waters, the inland cities ( and their surrounding areas) of Palatka, Gainesville, and Lake City in Florida and Waycross, Georgia.

            The number of hurricanes and principle areas affected after 1900 are considered to be fairly accurate, but are the subject of a reevaluation by the Hurricane Research Division (HRD) in Miami, Florida ( Landsea, Et al, 1999 ). The intention of this study is to accurately extend the historical hurricane landfall data base for the study area back as far as possible, but at a minimum to 1800.


Methodology


            Several listings of tropical cyclone landfall events have been complied by various authors over time. These listings were the first sources consulted for the timing of potential landfalls affecting the re-analysis area. For the purposes of this study, these first source commentators are collectively referred to as the “Primary Commentators” (see definitions for details) in the body of the chronology. All events listed by at least one of these commentators are addressed, even if no verification of the listed event can be authenticated. The reasoning behind this is to make the chronology as complete as possible and to give future studies a complete listing and evaluation of all possible events.

            Next, area historical societies, historical sites and libraries were visited in a search for journals, diaries, clippings and other documents which could be useful in ascertaining possible tropical cyclone events which are not currently listed in the meteorological record. Listings of shipwrecks were also consulted for possible ship losses associated with tropical cyclone events. Newspapers from the study area were also searched for references to events which could be tropical cyclone events.

           Finally, all events listed in the Hurricane Database (HURDAT), maintained by the National Hurricane Center, which may have affected the geographical area covered by this study (Figure 1) are addressed.
           
A summary of the author’s evaluation of the storm is included.


Intensity and background information


            It is very difficult to assess the information on many hurricanes prior to the 1880s due to the sparse population base. It may be assumed that the most extreme early nineteenth century events (1804, 1824, 1854) have become a part of the local historical record and that information is fairly accurate. A few events which may have been significant or major storms (e.g. 1806, 1813, 1837, 1896, 1898) may have been lost from the record due to difficulties in finding and translating the original Spanish documents and the aforementioned sparse coastal population. In a few cases it is possible to estimate the intensity of nineteenth century storms based on tidal information (1896, 1898, Sandrik and Jarvinen 1999, Sandrik et al 2000); however, if such information is not available it becomes necessary to utilize damage reports. Prior to the nineteenth century, it is difficult to access damage, as construction techniques are too varied and too few structures survive for comparison with modern structures. Therefore no assessment of hurricane intensity will be attempted prior to 1800.

            As noted above, the coastal areas between St. Augustine and Amelia Island were sparsely populated, and it is difficult to obtain reliable information from that region. Additionally the documents which are available and predate 1821 (for the most part) must be translated from the original Spanish documents. Furthermore, almost continuous conflict from the late eighteenth century through 1840 (e.g. War of 1812, East Florida Patriot’s Rebellion, Seminole Wars), resulted in the migration of settlers from that area. The islands of the Georgia coast tended to be more heavily populated and had a more stable population base primarily comprised of gentlemen planters. Therefore, more reliable information is available in those locations. Overall the population of this area was more stable and experienced earlier settlement than other portions of Florida. This is particular true with respect to southern portions of the state, in the vicinity of present day Miami, Fort Myers and Naples, which were very sparely populated into the late nineteenth century.

            During the study period, references to the city of Jacksonville generally apply to the area within several miles of the present day downtown. Other areas, which are considered to be a part of “modern Jacksonville”, are not treated as such by both period press reports or early historians (Davis, T. Frederick, 1925). It must be understood that the city of Jacksonville, as it existed prior to the twentieth century, was an inland city approximately fifteen miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Additionally, other than a few small settlements, most of the beach areas were not settled until the 1880s, and those that were settled earlier were generally located on relatively high terrain.

             The information pertaining to weaker storms may not be as reliable. It is possible that some of the early events may not have occurred on the dates listed, or may not have been at hurricane intensity at landfall. However, this is believed to be a good record from the nineteenth century onward and that all hurricane events since 1800 have been archived within.

             Figure 2 indicates all Northeast Florida hurricane events from 1565 through 1899. Figure 3 indicates all hurricanes for Lower Georgia during the period 1565 through 1899. Figure 4 indicates all hurricanes for the Upper Georgia coast from 1565 through 1899. Figure 5 indicates all hurricanes for coastal Georgia from 1565 through 1899. The sparseness of hurricane occurrences before the 1790s (none at all before the 1750s for Georgia) is an artifact of the lack of settlements along the coast primarily. Figure 6 indicates all major hurricanes in Northeast Florida and coastal Georgia 1565 trough 1899. Most notable from this figure is a relatively even spacing with respect to major hurricane events during the early decades of the Nineteenth century with a sharp increase in Major events during the 1890's followed by a absence of major events during the subsequent century. This later period is also associated with significant population growth in the study area and a low experience level with major hurricane events (Jarrell et. al. 1992).

Dates


            This work spans two distinct calendar systems, the old style Julian Calendar and the modern Gregorian Calender. Spain converted to the new system in 1582; however, there was some delay in the transition in the West Indies and it is possible the old calendar may have been in use in portions of the Indies through 1584. In the English world the transition between these calendar systems occurred on 2 September 1752, when eleven days were skipped to bring the calendar into astronomical alignment, and the next day was designated 14 September 1752. The dates of the events have been corrected to the modern calendar; however, due to the historical nature of the source material, the dates have not been modified in historical quotations. To avoid confusion the old Julian dates have been placed in parenthesis next to the modern dates where possible. For example; “Date(s): 24 Sept (14 Sept - Julian)”.

 

Definitions


Tropical Cyclone: A generic term for a non-frontal synoptic scale cyclone originating over tropical or subtropical waters with organized convection and a definite cyclonic surface wind circulation. It is recognized that some of the events described in this document may not be of tropical origin and a note is made if a case is too subjective, or insubstantial, to be classified as a tropical cyclone.


Tropical Depression: A tropical cyclone in which the maximum 1-minute sustained 10 meter wind is 33 knots (38 mph) or less.


Tropical Storm: A tropical cyclone in which the maximum one minute 10 meter wind speed ranges from 34 knots (39 mph) to 63 knots (73 mph). When dealing with narrative descriptions of historical events this determination must be somewhat subjective and for the purposes of this study it will be any storm causing minor disruption or damage either through wind action or storm surge.


Hurricane: A hurricane is defined as a tropical cyclone in which the maximum one minute sustained 10 meter wind speed is 64 knots (74 mph) or greater. Based on the modern day Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Intensity Scale, this definition would describe any storm of Category One or greater intensity ( see Major Hurricane ). When dealing with narrative descriptions of historical events this determination must be somewhat subjective and for the purposes of this study it will be any storm causing significant, but not devastating, damage through either wind action or storm surge.


Major hurricane: A major hurricane is defined as a tropical cyclone in which the maximum one minute sustained 10 meter wind speed is 96 knots (111 mph) or greater. Based on the modern day Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Intensity Scale, this definition would describe any storm of category three or greater intensity. When dealing with narrative descriptions of historical events this determination must be somewhat subjective. For the purposes of this study it will be any storm causing devastating damage through either wind action or storm surge. Some authors will use the terminology of “Extreme” to describe the worst of these events. This study will refrain from using that terminology, excepting were previous studies have done so, and then only to refer to those works.


Nao: A nao is a Spanish cargo vessel ranging from 300 to 600 tons, though by the late seventeenth century they reached 1,200 tons. They were armed with 10 to 12 cannon and had three to four masts.


Urca: A type of cargo vessel, although many were used as warships. Originally intended to be used in shallow water and the interior consisted of large empty spaces without partitions. Many carried treasure from the New World to Spain.


Flotas: A Spanish convoy system designed to protect the treasure fleets. Two Flotas, or fleets, departed Spain each year, the Nueva Espana and Terra Firme fleets. Both fleets met in Havana and attempted to depart that city together before 20 August. Several Flotas encountered hurricanes and many vessels were sunk along the Florida coast.


Upper Georgia: The area north of the Altamaha River (31.4N) to the Georgia-South Carolina State Line (Figure 1).


Lower Georgia: The area south of the Altamaha River to the Georgia-Florida State Line (Figure 1).


Northeast Florida: The area from Flagler Beach (29.5N) north to the Florida-Georgia State Line and west to the Suwannee River (Figure 1).


Coastal Waters: Those waters adjacent to the coastline and out to 50 nautical miles. They are broken down into Upper Georgia, Lower Georgia and Northeast Florida, using the same coastal landmarks as indicated above.


Interior Region: When clear proof of a tropical cyclone impact on the interior portion of the study area can be ascertained it will be indicated as interior Northeast Florida and/or interior Southeast Georgia (Figure 1).


Primary Commentators: These are individuals who either on a national or local basis have tracked historical hurricane activity used in this study. In many cases they have built their listings and commentary on accounts chronicled by previous commentators (i.e; Poey). More specifically they are:


Horace S. Carter, Georgia Tropical Cyclones and Their Effect on the State, ESSA Tech Memo EDSTM 14

T. Frederick Davis, Climate of Jacksonville, Florida

Gordon E. Dunn and Banner I. Miller, Atlantic Hurricanes

David M. Ludlum, Early American Hurricanes 1492-1870

Frances P. Ho, Extreme Hurricanes in the Nineteenth Century, NOAA-TM-NWS-Hydro-43

Jose Carlos Millas, Hurricanes of the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions, 1492-1800.

Jose Fernandez-Partagas and Henry F. Diaz, A Reconstruction of Historical Tropical Cyclone Frequency in the Atlantic from Documentary and Other Historical Sources, Volumes I-IV.

Arnold Sugg, Leonard Pardue and Robert Carrodus, Memorable Hurricanes of the United States Since 1873.

Edward Rappaport and Jose Fernandez-Partagas, The Deadliest Atlantic Tropical Cyclones, 1492-1994.



Chronology


Year: 1565,

Date(s): 20, 22 or 23 (10, 12 or 13) September

Principle Affected Area(s):  Northeast Florida (St. Augustine, Matanzas Inlet, Mosquito Inlet) - hurricane

                                              Northeast Florida coastal waters - hurricane

Landfall Point(s): Unknown, likely an offshore storm.

Remarks: A well known hurricane, documented by all commentators.

Sank Jean Ribault’s fleet. Led to the fall of Fort Caroline and the loss of French influence in northeast Florida. During September of 1565 both the Spanish, in St. Augustine, under Menendez, and the French, at Fort Caroline, under Ribault, were attempting to eliminate each others position in the New World. Ribault, ignoring the advice of his second in command, sailed into a building hurricane, which dashed his ships ashore between present day Matanzas Inlet and Cape Canaveral. Most likely a minimal hurricane. Millas quotes the diary of the army chaplain Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, “...a hurricane and a tempest came, and it was so great that they surely must have been lost. (He refers to several French vessels)” Endnote . This hurricane is referred to as "San Mateo" by the Spanish. The French survivors were later massacred in the dunes near Matanzas Inlet ( which is loosely translated as slaughter ) and Fort Caroline was captured by the Spanish, thus securing north Florida for Spanish rule.

Summary: This storm will be counted as a hurricane for northeast Florida and the northeast Florida coastal waters.


Year: 1566

Date(s): 13-14 (3-4) September, possible loop on 16 (6) September

Principle Affected Area(s):  Upper Georgia coastal waters - hurricane

                                               Lower Georgia coastal waters - hurricane

Northeast Florida coastal waters - hurricane

Landfall Point(s): Unknown, likely an offshore storm.

Remarks: This is a previously undocumented event, and is believed to be new to the meteorological record.

            Descriptions are taken from the Spanish accounts of the Jesuit expedition under Padre Pedro Martinez to Santa Helena (or Santa Elena, near present day Paris Island, S.C.) and held in the Stetson collection at the St. Augustine Historical Society.

            “A hurricane which arose on the 3rd of September, and lasted 12 hours, put them in such danger that they confessed all who understood Castilian, until when, the sea subsiding, they could sail toward the coast.” Endnote “On 4 September at noon, the weather cleared. It took two days for the urca to regain the sight of land. The pilot thought that a large bay that he spotted was near Santa Elena, so he moved closer to shore. That night, another storm struck which carried the ship so far out to sea that it required four days to return to the coast. ” Endnote It seems unlikely that two separate hurricanes could impact the expedition in so short a period of time or that they would survive two direct encounters with the same storm. It seems the second storm they encountered caused a prolonged period of westerly winds and may have been associated with a frontal passage. The first certainly may have been the fringes of a hurricane passing along the southeastern coast.

Summary: Will be counted as an offshore hurricane on the 13-14 (3-4) of September, for the northeast Florida and upper/lower Georgia coastal waters.


Year 1566

Date(s) 24-26 (14-16) September

Principle Affected Area(s)   Upper Georgia coastal waters - hurricane

                                               Lower Georgia coastal waters - hurricane

                                               Northeast Florida coastal waters - hurricane

Landfall Point(s) Unknown, likely an offshore storm.

Remarks: Listed by all of the primary commentators.

            The second and likely more severe hurricane of 1566 was encountered by the Jesuit Expedition on the 26th (16th) of September. Father Martinez disemBarked for the beach on the 24th (14th) of September and could not be relocated by the crew of the urca. “Those on the Urca were not a little worried, for the boat of explorers had set out after mid-day on the 14th of September and yet at nightfall it had not returned, they fired a shot to advise them, and beside, before the menace of a tempest, the pilot had decided to find a harbor. He cast off at midnight and they were driven to Cape Canaveral (28 deg. 30 min) running into an entrance where it was very difficult for them to come out, because of a contrary wind and the current of the sea.” Endnote The urca was sighted off the port of St. Augustine but it did not recognize the port. Certainly this event affected the coastal waters from northeast Florida to South Carolina.

Summary: This event will be counted as an offshore hurricane for the 24-26 (modern calender) September 1566 for the northeast Florida and Georgia coastal waters.


Year: 1571

Date(s): Unknown, September or October (?)

Principle Affected Area(s):  Northeast Florida - hurricane

Northeast Florida coastal waters. - hurricane

Landfall Point(s): Near St. Augustine

Remarks: Listed by Rappaport and Partagas (storm #272)

            Two accounts (Marx, 1994) of several ships wrecked by a storm in 1571 or 1572. Survivors walked “30 leagues” Endnote to the fort at St. Augustine with many of them massacred by Indians along the way. The accounts are so similar that they most likely represent the same event, and indeed, looking at translations of the original Spanish documents, that appears to be the case. A league is variously described as ranging between 2.4 and 4.6 statute miles, therefore the wrecks may have occurred anywhere from 70 to 140 statute miles ( rounded off ) from St. Augustine, and would appear to be outside this study area. A letter held by the St. Augustine Historical Society, places the year in 1571. Late in that year St. Augustine had witnessed a catastrophe; “ ‘The sea had risen because of the wind, flooding the store houses and Dwellings’ and forcing the inhabitants to sustain themselves ‘on herbs and roots’ ” Endnote

Summary: This hurricane likely made landfall in the vicinity of St. Augustine and will be counted as a hurricane for northeast Florida and the northeast Florida coastal waters.


Year: 1579

Date(s): September or October (?)

Principle Affected Area(s):  Northeast Florida coastal waters - not counted

Landfall Point(s): Unknown, likely an offshore storm, if it existed.

Remarks: The principle modern commentators (Carter, Dunn and Miller, Ludlum, Millas, Rappaport and Partagas or Tannehill) make no mention or listing of this event.

            Marx (1994) reports, Don Antonio Martinez Carvajal wrote to the King from Havana on November 13 (3), 1579, stating that ‘we set out for St. Augustine and by reason of a tempest one of the two frigates we had was lost...the General and the rest of the people were saved from the wreck of said frigate, whence he went by land to the fort of St. Augustine.’ ” Endnote A powerful Indian tribe, the Ais, generally killed shipwreck survivors along the central Florida coast so it seems likely the wreck occurred fairly close to St. Augustine for the crew to survive the walk back to that city. See the “1571 or 1572" listing above.

Summary: As the date, location and characteristics of this event can not be ascertained it will not be listed as a tropical cyclone but is added to the list for historical completeness.


Year: 1589

Date(s): Mid-Sept.

Principle Affected Area(s):  Northeast Florida coastal waters - hurricane

Landfall Point(s): Unknown, likely an offshore event.

Remarks: Listed by Rappaport and Partagas (storm #276) .

            Marx (1994) reports, “...the Armada and the Flota de Tierra Firme and Flota de Nueva Espana met in Havana, forming a convoy of about 100 ships, and sailed from Havana on September 9. Soon after entering the Bahama Channel the convoy was struck by a hurricane... ...While running up the Bahama Channel before the hurricane, three merchant naos also sank in 30 fathoms of water in about 30 degrees of latitude.” Endnote No reports of damage on land have been discovered.

Summary: As this latitude coincides with northeast Florida and the 30 fathom line is relatively close to shore, this event will be counted as an offshore hurricane for the northeast Florida coastal waters.


Year:1591

Date(s): August 10, Possibly several events

Principle Affected Area(s):  Northeast Florida coastal waters - not counted

Landfall Point(s): Unknown, likely an offshore event.

Remarks: Marx (1994) reports, “A Spanish fleet of 75 ships left Havana after spending the winter there... ...After the convoy, consisting of ships from Mexico and South America, left Havana on July 27, it was beset by many storms and no less than 29 vessels were lost, many off the coast of Florida.” Endnote There is no way to prove that these storms effected the northeast Florida area, but given the scope of the event it seems to be a reasonable conclusion that some effects may have occurred there.

            1591 appears to have been an active year, Ludlum and Tannehill lists four storms between mid-August and mid-Sept. and Ludlum reports a landfall near Roanoke Island, NC on August 26th (16th ). Millas lists no Caribbean storms suggesting the activity was confined to storms recurving around the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Summary: Given the evidence it seems likely that one or several hurricanes passed through the offshore waters this year. Since definitive proof of this event cannot be found, it will not be counted, but is added for historical completeness.


Year: 1599

Date(s): 22 September

Principle Affected Area(s):  Northeast Florida - hurricane

                                                Northeast Florida coastal waters - hurricane

Landfall Point(s): Near St. Augustine

Remarks: This is a previously undocumented event, and is believed to be new to the meteorological record.

            This hurricane likely made landfall near and to the south of St. Augustine as the sea rose into the city. A letter, from Alonso de las Alas to the Crown (Spanish) on 12 Jan 1600 states, “On September 22 of the past year 1599 the tide came in with such a fury that the town was entirely flooded and many houses were knocked down, among them the guard-house and part of the store-house; whereby a quantity of your Majesty’s supplies was destroyed, also a part of the fort, as the waves swept way the wall and caballeros on the sea front; the said fort being made of wood, sand and flour sacks, its foundation not being strong enough to build it of stone...” Endnote

            Verne E. Chatelain, in his book, The Defenses of Spanish Florida, wrote, “However, when, on September 22, 1599, a great tidal storm and flood occurred, demolishing many homes, together with the guardhouse and storehouse of San Marcos, and carrying away also a portion of the walls of the fort...” Endnote


            “...A sheltering island in the harbor disappeared and most of the Indians of a nearby village were drowned. The sandbar shifted to make the inlet even more shallow. Until the time of modern dredging the harbor would be closed to any ship over a hundred tons...” Endnote

Summary: As the fort was of wooden construction and most of the era houses were of wood frame construction, it is impossible to determine the intensity of this event and it will be counted as a hurricane for northeast Florida and the northeast Florida coastal waters.


Year: 1638

Date(s): Unknown, Prior to 12 September

Principle Affected Area(s):  Northeast Florida - hurricane

                                                Northeast Florida coastal waters - hurricane

Landfall Point(s): Near St. Augustine

Remarks: This is a previously undocumented event, and is believed to be new to the meteorological record.

            Based on a letter from Governor Luis de Herruytiner to the Crown (Spanish), Stetson collection AGI 54-5-10/5- 12 Sept.1638. “Worst storm in 30 years.” Endnote Two hurricanes could be candidates for this event, an August 13th event which swept New England or an August 15th storm which struck St. Christopher Island in the Caribbean

Summary: Will be counted as a hurricane for northeast Florida and the northeast Florida coastal waters.


Year: 1641

Date(s): 27 Sept

Principle Affected Area(s):  Northeast Florida coastal waters - hurricane

                                                Northeast Florida - tropical storm

Landfall Point(s): Unknown, likely an offshore event.

Remarks: Rappaport and Partagas (Storm #294)

            Marx (1994) reports, “A convoy consisting of the Nueva Espana Flota, commanded by Captain-General Juan de Campos and the Armada de Barlovento (a squadron used for protecting returning flotas during time of war), was struck by a hurricane on September 27 in the latitude of 30 degrees north and five ships of the Flota were wrecked on the coast of Florida. Four of the five ships were merchant naos, and there were no survivors... ...Other ships in this same convoy were in such bad condition that they sank on the high seas.” Endnote Millas identifies a storm on 24 September (plus or minus one day) in the Florida Straits and the Bahamas and apparently this is the same storm passing northeast Florida.

Summary: The beaching and total loss of the naos indicate that strong surf and high winds were occurring along the northeast Florida coast, however, no documents have been uncovered which indicate damage to the city of St. Augustine. Therefore it would appear that St Augustine was on the weaker western side of the circulation. This event will be counted as a hurricane for the northeast Florida coastal waters and a tropical storm for northeast Florida.


Year: 1674

Date(s): On, or about, 19 August

Principle Affected Area(s):  Northeast Florida - hurricane

                                                Northeast Florida coastal waters - hurricane

Landfall Point(s): Near St. Augustine

Remarks: This is a previously undocumented event, and is believed to be new to the meteorological record.

            Known as “The Great Storm of 1674 dealt a serious blow to the town and the old fort when the waves pounding at the rotting walls, brought the guns crashing down." Endnote . A letter from the Sergeant Major and Royal Officials to the Crown (Spanish) on 15 October 1674 note that Arch Bishop Calderon arrived from Havana four days after a severe hurricane and “A hurricane hit the coast uniting the sea with the city, ruining half of the houses and flooding the streets and ruining the crops” Endnote . Arch-Bishop Calderon arrived in St. Augustine on 23 August 1674.

Summary: Will be counted as a hurricane for northeast Florida and the northeast Florida coastal waters.


Year: 1707

Date(s): 30 Sept

Principle Affected Area(s):  Northeast Florida - hurricane

                                                Northeast Florida coastal waters - hurricane

Landfall Point(s): Near St. Augustine

Remarks: This is a previously undocumented event, and is believed to be new to the meteorological record.

            A letter from Gov. Corcoles to Crown (Spanish), held By St. Augustine Historical Soc. Stetson Papers, pp 4. Reports a hurricane lasting 24 hours beginning on 30 September. City was completely inundated, most of the houses destroyed. The inundation of the city suggest either a hurricane making direct landfall near or to the south of St. Augustine. Most of the houses of the city are reported as destroyed by the winds and storm surge. It rained for 24 hours, likely a “Dora” type landfall. Due to the destruction of the town of St. Augustine by English forces in 1704, it is difficult to ascertain the magnitude of the system because of an incomplete understanding of the structural characteristics of the remaining buildings.

Summary: This storm will be counted as a hurricane for northeast Florida and the northeast Florida coastal waters.


Year: 1752

Date(s): 14-15 September

Principle Affected Area(s):  Upper Georgia - hurricane

                                                Upper Georgia coastal waters - hurricane

                                                Lower Georgia - tropical storm

                                                Lower Georgia coastal waters - hurricane

Landfall Point(s): Near Charleston, South Carolina

Remarks: Likely a major hurricane which passed just offshore of the Georgia coast.

            Ludlum reports, “incredible damage was done to the trees...” Endnote Bullard (1996) describes damage by this storm to Fort William at the south end of Cumberland Island, “Farther along on Cumberland Island, adjacent to Spanish-held Florida, they found Fort St. Andrews at the north end abandoned and in ruins. Fort William with its lonely detachment- six solders and their corporal- stood at the south end. Damaged by the 1752 hurricane, it too, suffered neglect and, as Bryan noted, was ‘In a ruinous Condition.’ ” Endnote The storm was described as being “extreme” in the Charleston area. Note: this storm impacted the Charleston area on the day of the transition between the Julian and Gregorian Calendars.

Summary: This storm will be counted as a hurricane for upper Georgia, an offshore hurricane for the upper and lower Georgia coastal waters. The damage to the fort on Cumberland Island is likely due to surf and lower Georgia likely only experienced tropical storm conditions. No Florida information is available.


Year: 1753

Date(s): 24-25 August

Principle Affected Area(s):  Lower Georgia coastal waters - tropical storm

                                                Lower Georgia - tropical storm

                                                Northeast Florida coastal waters - tropical storm

                                                Northeast Florida - tropical storm

Landfall Point(s): Unknown, likely an offshore event.

Remarks: This is a previously undocumented event, and is believed to be new to the meteorological record.

            Bullard (1996) reports, “Here came on a violent storm of Wind at NE and Rain which came on the Night before, but now with greater violence, which prevented our going over the sound to Amelia...” Endnote . “This afternoon we set away from Fort William homeward, the bad Weather continuing, and at Night a terrible storm came on. we came to an anchor, and lay all night, hoping to cross Cumberland Sound in the Morning, but the Weather continued. our poor Men Suffer’d very much...” Endnote Later the rain ceased, however the wind remained “very hard” and the seas across Cumberland Sound are described as “great.” The expedition in fact turned back never reaching Amelia Island. This may be a tropical storm or a minimal hurricane offshore of the area. Wedges (or as they are known in the study area “northeasters”) are not unheard of in August, but the description of a “terrible storm” is not characteristic of typical northeaster conditions. Tannehill lists a hurricane at Charleston on September 15th but no listing is made of this event.

Summary: This storm will be counted as a (very questionable) tropical storm for Lower Georgia, Northeast Florida and the Lower Georgia and Northeast Florida coastal waters.


Year:1756

Date(s):Unknown

Principle Affected Area(s):  Georgia - not counted

Landfall Point(s):Unknown, likely an offshore event.

Remarks: Listed by Tannehill.

            Possibly a tropical storm or minimal hurricane. Apparently, not a significant event for coastal Georgia. 1756 had several Carribean landfalls, with a storm moving over the Caymans on October 1st and just east of Havana on the 2nd and 3rd being a strong candidate for this event.

Summary: As no reliable information can be obtained on this storm it will not be counted as a tropical cyclone, but is included for the historical completeness of this chronology.


Year:1757

Date(s): September, 22-23.

Principle Affected Area(s):  Florida and Georgia coasts - not counted

Landfall Point(s):Unknown, likely an offshore event.

Remarks: Listed by Ludlum and Tannehill, no further information is available.

Summary: As the characteristics of this event cannot be ascertained it will not be counted as a tropical cyclone but is added to the list for historical completeness.


Year: 1758

Date(s): 23 August

Principle Affected Area(s):  Upper Georgia coastal waters - hurricane

                                                Lower Georgia coastal waters - hurricane

Landfall Point(s): South Carolina

Remarks: Listed by Carter but not identified by the other principle commentators.

            Affected the South Carolina coast and likely the Georgia coastal waters. Mock (2001) has identified a South Carolina landfall on this date, so it appears reasonable that a tropical cyclone traversed the coastal waters. Apparently, not a significant event for coastal Georgia.

Summary: This storm will be counted as an offshore hurricane for the upper Georgia and lower Georgia coastal waters.


Year:1763

Date(s): Late October

Principle Affected Area(s):  Northeast Florida - not counted

                                                Northeast Florida coastal waters - not counted

Landfall Point(s): Unknown, likely an offshore event

Remarks: Singer (1992) reports, “Charming Sally (schooner) and two French sloops - One of the sloops wrecked at St. Augustine and the other two vessels a few miles down the coast from St. Augustine...” Endnote Possibly a “local northeaster”.

Summary: As the characteristics of this event can not be ascertained it will not be counted as a tropical cyclone but is added to the list for historical completeness.


Year: 1769

Date(s): 30 August

Principle Affected Area(s):  Northeast Florida - not counted

                                                Northeast Florida coastal waters - not counted

Landfall Point(s): Unknown, likely an offshore event.

Remarks: All of the principle commentators list a hurricane along the Florida east coast on 30 August. No other information is available on this event. A reference could not be found to it in the archives in St. Augustine. It is almost certain that a significant event as late as this would have found its way into the historical archives.

Summary: As the characteristics of this event can not be ascertained it will not be counted as a tropical cyclone but is added to the list for completeness. This may be the same event as indicated in the following listing.


Year:1769

Date(s): 25 September; 28-29 September (?)

Principle Affected Area(s):  Northeast Florida - hurricane

                                                Northeast Florida coastal waters - hurricane

Landfall Point(s): Near St. Augustine (?)

Remarks: Not previously listed by any commentator. It is believed to be the same storm as 28-29 September at Charleston.

From Gov. James Grant to Lord Hillsborough (English Period), held by the St. Augustine Historical Soc., Ref CO 5-551, “-EmBarkation should be avoided in September if possible, for in these Southern Latitudes we have always very Stormy Weather about the time of the Equinox - the 25th of September last there was a the hardest Gale I ever saw in any part of the world, it really may be called a hurricane- the Transports which were in great danger are refitting in Charles Town- the Schooners with the 21st Regiment on Board are in sight...”.

      ‘The Stormy Weather of September has hurt our planters exceedingly, and will prevent their sending home any thing near the Produce I expected- Georgia and the two Carolinas have suffered much from the same cause.” Endnote .

     Marx (1994) indicates that the British merchant snow (a type of vessel) Ledbuy “was driven onshore near Cape Florida by a violent gale of wind on September 29...” Endnote but that event may have occurred in October ( See below ). Ludlum lists a hurricane in Charleston on the 28th and 29th of September and that may be the same storm. Clearly, there was a hurricane in the area in late September 1769.

Summary: This storm will be counted as a hurricane for northeast Florida and the northeast Florida coastal waters.


Year: 1769

Date(s): 29 October

Principle Affected Area(s):  Northeast Florida coastal waters - hurricane

Landfall Point(s): Near present day Miami, possibly moving offshore

Remarks: All of the principle commentators list a hurricane along the Florida east coast on 29 October.

            Romans wrote, “I have never heard of much mischief in the vernal equinox and if a hurricane was ever known in this Peninsula, it was on the 29th of October 1769, when there was a terrible gust between lat. 29:10 and 29:50, which blew many trees down, and drove the snow Ledbury a shore, where she remained dry on a key, now distinguished by her name, but heretofore considered as a part of what was improperly called by the name Key Largo.” Endnote

Summary: This is a confusing report, the latitude referenced corresponds well within the southern edge of the study area, however the references to Key Largo are confusing. The date is also suspicious occurring exactly one month following the previous report. Most likely this storm made landfall over southwest Florida and was passing offshore south of northeast Florida, on an east-northeast track. Millas does not report any 1769 storms in the Caribbean, and it seems unlikely the storm passed over Cuba. The authors cannot ascribe a high level of confidence to this being a northeast Florida event but a coastal waters event seems likely.


Year: 1780

Date(s): 14-19 October

Principle Affected Area(s):  Northeast Florida coastal waters - not counted

Landfall Point(s): Unknown, likely an offshore event.

Remarks: Apparently the series of legendary October hurricanes were making their presence felt along the northeast Florida coast. It is possible the strongest of the three, the 11-18 October “Great Hurricane”, may have come closer to the Florida peninsula than previously thought. Mr. Josiah Smith made the following report from St. Augustine, “Thursday 19th October. The weather as mentioned on Saturday, growing worse, by Sunday evening it came on to Rain and blow excessive hard, and till the evening of yesterday was a mere Gale at about N. N. E. by which means the Sea came in very heavily upon the front of the Town and raised the Tide several feet higher than common, and which ran through some of the Lanes up to the Second Street, above 150 feet from the bay...” Endnote Severe erosion occurred with this event.

            It is possible the “Great Hurricane” came closer to the coast than previously realized and the pressure gradient may have been very tight along the coast. This report could also be attributed to “Solano’s Storm” in the later portion of the period.

Summary: This storm will not be counted as a hurricane, but it may be that the fringes of one, or more, of the series of “Great Hurricanes” influenced the study area.


Year: 1781

Date(s): August 10th

Principle Affected Area(s):  Upper Georgia - not counted

                                                Upper Georgia coastal waters - not counted

Landfall Point(s): Unknown, likely an offshore event.

Remarks: Ludlum was the primary source for this event. The wind direction at both Charleston and Wilmington, North Carolina indicate the storm must have moved along some portion of the Georgia coast. Endnote

Summary: As the characteristics of this event can not be ascertained it will not be counted as a tropical cyclone for the study area but is added to the list for historical completeness.


Year:1794

Date(s): Between 1-8 October

Principle Affected Area(s):  Northeast Florida - hurricane

                                                Northeast Florida coastal waters - hurricane

Landfall Point(s): Unknown, Possibly moving overland from SW Florida

Remarks: This is a previously undocumented event, and is believed to be new to the meteorological record.

            Jacksonville historian JimWard refers to damage done to the Quesada Battery (presently the Mayport Naval Station) caused by a hurricane. Pedro Diaz Berrio, the chief military engineer for the province reported the parapets had been blown away and the structure was undermined by the early October hurricane. The Military Post at San Vicente Ferrer (St. Johns Bluff) suffered significant erosion and the cemetery was eroded away exposing the skeletons based on a letter dated 9 October. From the dates of the letters contained in the East Florida Papers, it appears this storm must have been an early October event.

Summary: This storm will be counted as a hurricane for northeast Florida and the northeast Florida coastal waters.


Year:1797

Date(s): 15-16 October

Principle Affected Area(s):  Northeast Florida - hurricane

                                                Northeast Florida coastal waters - hurricane

                                                Upper Georgia coastal waters - hurricane

                                                Lower Georgia coastal waters - hurricane

Landfall Point(s): Unknown, likely an offshore event.

Remarks: Marx (1994) states, “A number of American vessels were cast away on the east coast of Florida during a hurricane on October 15 or 16. Some were also lost in the Bahamas.” Endnote According to a letter from the East Florida Papers, Bundle 165, dated 17 October 1797, a frigate bound for Hamburg was grounded north of the St. Augustine Bar. Ludlum lists a hurricane striking Charleston on the 19th and 20th, and this is likely the same event. This storm was not listed by Millas, so Ludlum’s scenario of this storm moving across Cuba seems unlikely.

Summary: This storm will be counted as a hurricane for northeast Florida, Upper Georgia and Lower Georgia coastal waters.


Year:1804

Date(s): 7-8 September

Principle Affected Area(s):  Northeast Florida - hurricane

                                                Northeast Florida coastal waters - major hurricane

                                                Upper Georgia - major hurricane

                                                Upper Georgia coastal waters - major hurricane

                                                Lower Georgia - major hurricane

                                                Lower Georgia coastal waters - major hurricane

Landfall Point(s): St. Simons Island

Remarks: “Great Gale of 1804”, sometimes called “the Antigua-Charleston Hurricane of 1804".

            Aaron Burr noted in a correspondence that St. Simons Island was flooded with water 7' above normal and described the eye transiting his location. The tide rose10' above MSL on the Savannah waterfront, approximately 60 miles north of landfall, and in the same area Gunboat #1 was driven 7 miles over marshes finally coming to rest in a cornfield on Whitemarsh Island. The storm was severe at Dungeness, on Cumberland Island, and the severely flooded Pablo Creek (currently the intracoastal waterway) inhibiting Aaron Burr’s travel to St. Augustine on the 10th . More than 500 persons drowned.

            The Spanish Quasada Battery, at the mouth of the St. Johns River, was destroyed by the storm surge and had to be rebuilt. Dunn and Miller list this storm as, “Minimal for land areas and intense offshore for the northeast Florida coast on the 7th ”, yet Marx (1994) describes eight ships being sunk in St. Augustine harbor “during a fierce northeast gale” Endnote . Based on the above accounts and the Marx report, clearly the damage in northeast Florida was greater than previous commentators accounted for and this storm was more significant in northeast Florida than indicated in past studies.

            It seems reasonable that the storm moved on a northwest course just offshore finally making landfall at St. Simons Island and Darien. Apparently, the track was close to, but west of, the 27 August 1893 event.

Summary: This storm will be counted as, a hurricane for northeast Florida and a major hurricane for Upper Georgia, Lower Georgia, the Northeast Florida coastal waters, Upper Georgia coastal waters and Lower Georgia coastal waters.


Year:1804

Date(s): 4 October

Principle Affected Area(s):  Upper Georgia coast - not counted.

Landfall Point(s): Near Savannah?

Remarks: listed by Tannehill, not reported by Ludlum or Dunn and Miller. Possibly a tropical storm or minimal hurricane.

Summary: As no reliable information can be obtained on this storm it will not be counted as a hurricane, but is included for the historical completeness of this chronology.


Year:1806

Date(s): 15 Sept

Principle Affected Area(s):  Northeast Florida - hurricane

                                                Northeast Florida coastal waters - hurricane

Landfall Point(s): South of St. Augustine.

Remarks: Listed by Ludlum. Tannehill lists a hurricane passing through Dominica and Puerto Rico on the 9th through the 11th of September The Storm is not listed in Hispaniola but Marx (1994) indicates a hurricane in the Bahamas on the 13th of Sept, which wrecked the Polly and Speedwell Endnote and Ludlum reports that “...On September 13 a more severe gale threw down the houses and tore up the trees by the roots.” Endnote . On the 15th the Isaac was wrecked on Great Inagua Island Endnote .

“Another Gale - Capt Bunker, from East Florida, informs us that a most destructive gale was experienced on the Florida coast on the 15th of September: St. Augustine had suffered considerably, several houses were blown down, the vessels in port driven on shore, and the pier entirely demolished. Capt. Bunker lost his vessel on Cape Romain in the Sept gale of 1804, but thinks this gale far exceeded that in severity. A great number of vessels have been driven on the Florida shore...” Endnote

Summary: It appears this storm moved north of Hispaniola through the Bahamas then most likely making landfall along the Florida east coast. The severity of the storm at St. Augustine and the Bahamas suggests it may have been a major hurricane. This storm will be counted as a hurricane for northeast Florida and the northeast Florida coastal waters.


Year:1811

Date(s): 4-5 October

Principle Affected Area(s):  Northeast Florida - hurricane

                                                Northeast Florida coastal waters - hurricane

                                                Lower Georgia - hurricane

                                                Lower Georgia coastal waters - hurricane

Landfall Point(s): Near St. Augustine

Remarks: Identified by Ludlum, not listed by Tannehill nor Dunn and Miller.

            One of the more significant hurricanes in northeast Florida. Destroyed a portion of the storehouse at the San Vicente Ferrer fortifications on the St. Johns River. In St. Augustine Captain General Marques de Someruelos reported, “a strong storm accompanying a furious hurricane...destroyed the houses in this city, especially those on Marine Street [along the bay, added by author]. Those that remain are in a deplorable state... In the plaza and streets there were boats and canoes carrying the sad and miserable, fleeing ...in fear of death, looking for a safe house to save their lives.” Endnote Several destroyed homes were not rebuilt until 1822.

            Apparently this storm made landfall near or slightly south of St. Augustine and was felt into southeast Georgia as evidenced by the following: “Loss of Gun-Boat No 2. The U. S. Gun-Boat, No. 2 (schooner rigged) under the command of Mr. Lippincott, of the Navy, sailed from this port on the 9th ult bound for St. Marys. On Friday morning, 4th inst. They made Cumberland Island, but being unable to procure a pilot, they, at night, stood off, weather very bad and a high sea. - On Saturday morning, the wind increasing to a heavy gale from the N. N. E., the vessel was hove to under a trey sail, with her head to the eastward; about 11 a.m. The gale increasing, took in the trey sail, and in about five minutes after a heavy sea broke onboard, which hove the boat on her beam ends - they immediately attempted to cut away the mast, but that part of the crew which was below, in their alarm, forced open the hatches, which had been secured in the early gales and the Gun-Boat instantly filled and went down. Several of the crew attempted to save themselves from instant death by clinging to the floating sweeps, spars &c. But one only of their numbers escaped to tell the mournful tale; all the rest, after struggling awhile in the waves, shared the fate of those who went down with the vessel. The man saved is named John Tier, and what is very remarkable, he was one of the men saved from the wreck of Gun-Boat No. 157, lost on Charleston Bar on the 17th of May last. This man was picked up the next day, after having been 29 hours upon an oar, by Capt. Gould, of the schr. Dolly, of Rhode Island, and landed at Amelia Island...” Endnote 10 Officers and Passengers and 25 seamen perished in this wreck.. The coast of East Florida was reported to be strewn with wrecks. “Two or Three houses were blown down...” Endnote at St Marys.

Summary: Based on the damage at St Augustine, St Marys and wreck of the Gunboat, this storm will be counted as a hurricane for northeast Florida, the northeast Florida coastal waters, Lower Georgia, and the lower Georgia coastal waters.


Year:1812

Date(s): 1-5 October

Principle Affected Area(s):  Lower Georgia - hurricane

                                                Lower Georgia coastal waters - hurricane

                                                Northeast Florida - hurricane

                                                Northeast Florida coastal waters - hurricane

Landfall Point(s): Unknown

Remarks: Listed as a major hurricane in Georgia by Dunn and Miller, not listed by Ludlum or Tannehill. Patrick (1954) reports, “On October 1 a wind of near hurricane force prevented the men from fording the St. Johns, but they crossed the river a few days later and spurred their horses forward” Endnote . The storm apparently was stationary or preformed a loop as the expedition again reported hurricane conditions on the 5th. If not for the dates of the letters describing this event it would be tempting to list this as a confused report from the previous year’s event. Clearly, northeast Florida was struck by hurricane conditions on the same date in subsequent years! This appears to be the same storm listed by Carter.

Summary: No definitive information to support major intensity can be found, and it is possible it has become confused with the 16 September 1813 event. This storm will be counted as a hurricane for northeast Florida. Lower Georgia, the northeast Florida coastal waters and the Lower Georgia coastal waters.


Year:1813

Date(s): 27 August

Principle Affected