• Bryan Norcross

Watching for tropical development on the anniversary of the night of the Great Miami Hurricane

Tropical Disturbance #1 has a decently defined broad circulation, but the bad weather is in a big comma shape to the east and north of the center of circulation. So it doesn’t have enough organization yet to rate being called a tropical depression or tropical storm.



The computer forecast models show it finally organizing over the Gulf Stream off the Mid-Atlantic states and then arcing out to sea. It’s still forecast to reach tropical-storm status over the next few days – probably named Tropical Storm Odette.


The system is expected to quickly morph into a wintertime-type North Atlantic storm as it interacts with the northern jet stream, so it has a fairly short window of time to be considered tropical.


All indications are it will stay offshore of the East Coast. And because the upper-level winds are pushing the bad weather to the east over the ocean, it’s not expected to have much impact beyond dangerous swells along the coast.



On the other side of the Atlantic, Tropical Disturbance #2 is also looking slightly more organized. But it too has a ways to go to become a depression or storm. The upper-level winds have been too hostile to let it wrap up. Dry air has also been a factor.


The forecasts for the atmosphere around the system call for more conducive conditions, so the National Hurricane Center is still giving the disturbance a good chance of becoming at least a tropical depression – most likely over the weekend as it approaches the northeastern Caribbean islands.


The annoying thing is that the computer projections have been all over the place from weak to pretty strong and from heading west to turning north after it gets near the islands. This is because the system is so ill-defined.


Although the odds favor this system not being a significant problem next week, we can’t be 100% sure yet.


Tropical Disturbance #3 is no longer expected to amount to much. The National Hurricane Center only gives it a slight chance of becoming a tropical storm.


Otherwise, the tropics are amazingly quiet for the third week of September.


Historically, this is the peak week of the season for strong storms to hit South Florida. In 1925, 1928, 1945, and 1947, Category 4 hurricanes hit Miami-Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach Counties between September 15th and 18th.


Ninety-five years ago tonight, a monster hurricane was bearing down on Miami. The weather was good that Friday, September 17. There was concern about a storm that night, but it wasn’t expected to be much.


At 10:00 PM, the barometer started falling like a rock. Hurricane Warnings went up at 11:25 PM. The wind picked up just after midnight, and it roared through the night until the eye came over downtown Miami beginning about 6:10 AM. People rushed into the streets thinking the storm was over, but the worst was yet to come.


Cars were washed off the causeway as people drove to and from Miami Beach. The island had been covered by ocean water and near the beach cars were buried in several feet of sand.


Here’s the iconic view of downtown Miami after the storm pushed ocean water three blocks inland from Biscayne Bay.



The storm was a giant. Hollywood and Dania were largely destroyed. Damage was widespread in Fort Lauderdale. Ocean water surged through downtown. The picture below was taken at Arthur Street and Dixie Highway in Hollywood.



Even around Lake Worth in West Palm Beach, the water surged over the land.


Modern calculations are that a repeat of the 1926 Great Miami Hurricane would be more expensive than if any other past hurricane on record were to happen again.