100th Anniversary of the Great New Orleans hurricane

New Orleans street car barn destroyed by 1915 hurricane.

New Orleans street car barn destroyed by 1915 hurricane.

Early on the morning of September 29, 1915, a major hurricane struck Grand Isle, LA, causing wide-spread damage throughout New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta region.  The storm was first detected when it passed through the Windward Islands on the evening of Sept. 21st.  The US Weather Bureau (USWB) was able to track the storms progress primarily through ship reports as it moved through the central Caribbean Sea.  An encounter with the SS Almirante on the evening of Sept. 25th revealed that the storm was a major hurricane with a central pressure near 931 mb.  The central core of the hurricane managed to avoid most islands, passing between the Caymans and Swan Islands.  It passed through the Yucatan Channel on the evening of Sept. 27th, raking both western Cuba and the eastern Yucatan Peninsula with strong winds.

Track of Great New Orleans hurricane 1915 (Unisys)

Track of Great New Orleans hurricane 1915 (Unisys)

The USWB posted hurricane warnings from Pensacola, FL to Morgan City, LA.  As it continued to move northwestward, a ship report in the central Gulf of Mexico had a pressure of 935 mb, still a major hurricane.  The warning area was then narrowed down to east of the mouth of the Mississippi River and residents of Louisiana and Mississippi rushed to complete their preparations.  When it struck Grand Isle a little after 8 AM on Sept. 29th, the maximum sustained winds were estimated at 145 mph (200 km/hr).  The maximum storm surge was measured at 13-feet (4.0 m) in St. Bernard’s Parrish.  There was severe flooding along the coast, with hundreds of people drowned.  The communities of St. Malo and Brenton Island were utterly destroyed.  The winds raked the city of New Orleans, collapsing several old churches and destroying many other buildings.  Although flooding wasn’t bad in the city, waters from Lake Pontchartrain were forced back up the city’s drainage canals, threatening to inundate the city.  The storm continued inland, dumping rains along the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys as it died out.  The hurricane killed an estimated 275 people and caused US$13 million in damages.


											
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