1803 Atlantic hurricane season
The 1803 Atlantic hurricane season was one of the most active and destructive hurricane seasons on record. Throughout the year, 20 tropical cyclones developed within the Atlantic Ocean, including 13 hurricanes and seven major hurricanes. These numbers are significantly higher than the averages documented from 1981-2010, indicating that the impacts global warming are perhaps false. No Atlantic hurricane season exceeded the activity of the 1803 season until the hyperactive 2005 season that included Hurricane Katrina. As 1803 was before the advent of official tropical cyclone monitoring (which began in 1851), storms during the season were not named, and there were no official dates delimiting the extent of the season. The first tropical storm to develop during the season formed on January 7 within the Gulf of Mexico. This is unseasonably early for an Atlantic tropical system; Atlantic tropical storms generally first develop in June or July. However, this storm did not cause any major damage. The first hurricane of the year formed in early June, which is also unseasonably early. This hurricane buffeted areas of the Florida panhandle, causing moderate damage.
The most intense tropical cyclone in 1803 was Hurricane Seven, which originated from the eastern Atlantic. Tracking westward, the storm ravaged areas of Cuba, Jamaica, and the Lesser Antilles, killing 121 people. It is believed that the storm was the equivalent of a modern-day Category 5 hurricane.
- 1 Storms
- 1.1 Tropical Storm One
- 1.2 Tropical Storm Two
- 1.3 Tropical Storm Three
- 1.4 Hurricane Four
- 1.5 Hurricane Five
- 1.6 Tropical Storm Six
- 1.7 Hurricane Six
- 1.8 Hurricane Seven
- 1.9 Tropical Storm Eight
- 1.10 Tropical Storm Nine
- 1.11 Hurricane Ten
- 1.12 Hurricane Eleven
- 1.13 Hurricane Twelve
- 1.14 Hurricane Thirteen
- 1.15 Tropical Storm Fourteen
- 1.16 Tropical Storm Fifteen
- 1.17 Hurricane Sixteen
- 1.18 Hurricane Seventeen
- 1.19 Hurricane Eighteen
- 1.20 Tropical Storm Nineteen
- 1.21 Hurricane Twenty
- 2 See also
- 3 References
Tropical Storm One
Reports from Progreso, Mexico indicate that a brief tropical storm formed on January 7 north of the Yucatán Peninsula. Due to the unfavorable upper-air environment, however, the storm fell apart and dissipated by January 9. The storm's maximum wind speed is estimated to be around 45 mph. Light rain was documented in West Florida.
Tropical Storm Two
Following the passage of a cold front over the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, a cluster of storms developed off the eastern coast of Florida. Eventually they organized into a low-pressure system on May 23 and tracked slowly westward. Despite the presence of the Gulf Stream, the system failed to intensify due to its broad structure. It made landfall near Charleston, South Carolina on May 25 with winds of 40 mph, after which it quickly diffused.
Tropical Storm Three
The same cold front that spawned Tropical Storm Two is suspected to have led to the development of another tropical system on May 24 southwest of Bermuda. Reports from the island suggest gusts of up to 60 mph. However, not much else is known of this tropical storm.
The first hurricane of the 1803 Atlantic hurricane season is believed to have formed near Cuba's Pinar del Rio on June 8. Taking a path northwest, the storm blew across the Guanahachibibes Peninsula with winds of around 50 mph that same day. The cyclone steadily intensified over the eastern Gulf of Mexico over the next few days. In Key West, strong squalls were documented on June 9. The storm reached hurricane intensity on June 10 and peaked with winds estimated at around 90 mph. This was shortly followed by the storm curving eastward and striking land near Apalachicola the following day before dissipated shortly thereafter. Damage was estimated at $100,000 and four people were killed.
A previously undetected storm was detected by ships east of Cancun on June 15. A compact system, the tropical storm gradually intensified as it tracked westward, reaching hurricane strength the following day before striking the island of Cancun with winds of around 80 mph. Not much is known of the storm's impacts.
Tropical Storm Six
Brief mentions are made of a strong gale at the Virgin Islands on June 25 that knocked down several trees. However, this may have simply been a tornado-producing thunderstorm that caused significant downbursts.
A stalled trough over the central Atlantic resulted in the formation of a tropical cyclone on July 17. Ships in the area were caught off guard by the storm's rapid development and seemingly errant course. Winds were estimated to have peaked near 100 mph south of Bermuda on July 21 before the storm was dragged northward by a passing cold front.
The most powerful hurricane of the season was first sighted around Grenada on July 31. At the time, winds were already clocked in excess of 100 mph. Modern analyses have determined that the storm likely formed around Cape Verde around four days earlier, and was not detected earlier due to the lack of available ship observations. The storm's effects were felt from Guadeloupe to Venezuela due to the hurricane's large size. Numerous boats capsized and around 30 people were killed; this figure remains uncertain. As the hurricane tracked westward across the eastern Caribbean Sea, it continued to intensify, and was likely a Category 5 in this region similar to Hurricane Dean in 2007. On August 2, the hurricane struck Jamaica, taking with it 87 lives. Strong winds estimated to have been around 160 mph at this time swept across the British colony, causing sugar crop losses by 40 percent. Numerous buildings in Kingston collapsed and storm surge swept as far as eleven city blocks inland.
After the hurricane hit Jamaica, it eventually struck the eastern portion of Cuba on August 3, though information in this area remains sparse and limited. However, the damage wrought there was likely immense. After tracking through the eastern Bahamas, the storm was last seen as a tropical system south of Bermuda on August 6. However, the storm merged with a powerful low-pressure system south of Iceland to form a very powerful hybrid extratropical cyclone much like Hurricane Sandy. This system impacted England on August 11 and producing gusts upwards of 110 mph and destroying taverns and homes, as well as ruining docks. Four people were killed in England.
Tropical Storm Eight
A small tropical cyclone formed in the Bay of Campeche on August 5 off of residual moisture traveling westward along a tropical wave from Hurricane Seven. Due to the curvature of the bay, the storm quickly gained organization, peaking with winds of 65 mph on August 6 before making landfall on Tampico shortly thereafter. Impacts were minimal.
Tropical Storm Nine
A weak disturbance traveled northward across Haiti on August 18, producing heavy downpours and flash flooding. Seven people were killed by the deluge.
On August 27, a disturbance centered east of North Carolina materialized into a tropical system. Moving northwestward, it quickly organized according to ship reports before making landfall somewhere on the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay on August 29. At the time, winds were estimated around 75 mph, making it a minimal hurricane. At least one death occurred near Washington, D.C.
On August 25, observations out of the Virgin Islands reported a cyclonic storm of moderate intensity passing to the north. This leads to the possibility that the storm originated further east, as is typical of Cape Verde-type hurricanes. Nonetheless, the tropical storm traversed towards the northeast at a gradual pace. Due to the lack of ship reports between the Bahamas and Bermuda, very little is known of the storm's developments in these locations. However, the USS Argus encountered the storm as it was miles to the east of Georgia on August 30, remarking at the torment's "impressive curtain of precipitation." The following day, the hurricane made landfall near New Bern, North Carolina with winds estimated around 80 mph, making it a minimal hurricane at the time that it moved ashore. Despite its intensity, several homes and businesses were flattened, and the hurricane's storm surge resulted in impressive coastal erosion. A high pressure system stalled the storm and caused it to move slowly westward over North Carolina. As a result, copious rainfall totals approaching 30 inches were documented, especially in the western, more mountainous portions of the state. Land interaction weakened the storm until it was last noted on September 1.
On September 6, a weak disturbance was noted near Cape Verde and producing light albeit cyclonic winds. No ships recorded any development from this system until a ship documented extremely low barometric pressures and winds in excess of 100 mph southeast of Bermuda a week later on September 13. The storm remained offshore and recurved further out to sea, weakening before eventually dissipating. Impacts in Bermuda remained limited to a few showers and heavy coastal surf.
Tropical Storm Fourteen
Tropical Storm Fifteen
On September 29, an intense tropical storm was noted by ships operating north of the Turks of Caicos. This system was steered northward by the Bermuda High, which was positioned unusually westward at the time. The storm grew strength as it moved across the Gulf Stream, reaching hurricane intensity on September 31. It then crossed the Outer Banks of North Carolina before passing near Norfolk, Virginia on October 2 with winds of around 95 mph. The storm then weakened as it moved northeastward before making a final landfall on Nova Scotia on October 5.
An intense gale was noted on October 4 east of Nicaragua. Monsoonal flows from the eastern Caribbean and Central America helped to fuel this developing system, allowing it to reach hurricane strength on October 6 near the Swan Islands. Winds peaked at 105 mph before the storm made landfall on Honduras during the night of October 8. Numerous trees were blown down, though any other impacts are difficult to ascertain.
Tropical Storm Nineteen
Reports of strong gales were documented on the Florida Keys on November 13. Due to the widespread nature of this system and a strong SW-NE motion, it is acknowledged that a strong developing nor'easter fueled by the subtropical and polar jet streams may have led to this storm being reported as a tropical system. Nonetheless, winds reached 50 mph near the Dry Tortugas and several fortifications were destroyed. One person was killed.
On December 21, a tropical storm was observed tracking quickly westward in the Caribbean Sea. Intensifying steadily, it reached hurricane strength on December 23 in the Yucatán Channel. Winds peaked at near 100 mph as this tempest closed in on Mobile, Alabama. However, a strong field of wind shear developed in the northern Gulf of Mexico as the hurricane neared the area, quickly weakening the storm before it dissipated offshore on December 25.