95th Anniversary of Tarpon Springs hurricane

Ship stranded by storm surge of 1921 hurricane (Florida State Archives)
Ship stranded by storm surge of 1921 hurricane
(Florida State Archives)

On October 25th, a severe hurricane struck the Tampa area bringing a surge of 10 to 12 feet (3 to 3.5 m) in Tampa Bay.

The storm originated somewhere in the southwestern Caribbean Sea, but was not detected until Oct. 20th, by which time it was already at tropical storm strength.  Like many late-October storms, the system moved northward from its breeding ground and brushed Nicaragua and Honduras with winds and waves.  Three days after first being observed, it moved through the Yucatan Channel as a major hurricane.  Although it dumped heavy rains on the western tip of Cuba, no major damage was caused.

Once in the Gulf of Mexico, the hurricane turned northeastward, and picked up forward speed.  By the evening of the 25th, the storm center made landfall at Tarpon Springs with maximum sustained winds estimated at 115 mph (185 km/hr).  But the majority of the damage was caused by the storm surge on Florida’s west coast from Punta Gorda to Tampa.  The storm weakened passing over Florida, exiting north of Cape Canaveral.  It moved eastward out to sea and was tracked for four days before it became extratropical east of Bermuda.

During its crossing of Florida the hurricane was responsible for eight deaths and US$10 million in damages.