Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Donna, September 12,1960

 Before IRMA there was DONNA.

One of the all-time great hurricanes, Donna was first detected as a tropical wave moving off the African coast on August 29. It became a tropical storm over the tropical Atlantic the next day and a hurricane on September 1. Donna followed a general west-northwestward track for the following five days, passing over the northern Leeward Islands on the 4th and 5th as a Category 4 hurricane and then to the north of Puerto Rico later on the 5th. Donna turned westward on September 7 and passed through the southeastern Bahamas. A northwestward turn on the 9th brought the hurricane to the middle Florida Keys the next day at Category 4 intensity. Donna then curved northeastward, crossing the Florida Peninsula on September 11, followed by eastern North Carolina (Category 3) on the 12th, and the New England states (Category 3 on Long Island and Categories 1 to 2 elsewhere) on the 12th and 13th. The storm became extratropical over eastern Canada on the 13th.
Donna is the only hurricane of record to produce hurricane-force winds in Florida, the Mid-Atlantic states, and New England. Sombrero Key, Florida reported 128 mph sustained winds with gusts to 150 mph. In 
the Mid-Atlantic states, Elizabeth City, North Carolina reported 83 mph sustained winds, while Manteo, North Carolina reported a 120 mph gust. In New England, Block Island, Rhode Island reported 95 mph sustained winds with gusts to 130 mph.
Donna caused storm surges of up to 13 ft in the Florida Keys and 11 ft surges along the southwest coast of Florida. Four to eight ft surges were reported along portions of the North Carolina coast, with 5 to 10 ft surges along portions of the New England coast. Heavy rainfalls of 10 to 15 inches occurred in Puerto Rico, 6 to 12 inches in Florida, and 4 to 8 inches elsewhere along the path of the hurricane.
The landfall pressure of 27.46 inches makes Donna the fifth strongest hurricane of record to hit the United States. It was responsible for 50 deaths in the United States. One hundred and fourteen deaths were reported from the Leeward Islands to the Bahamas, including 107 in Puerto Rico caused by flooding from the heavy rains. The hurricane caused $387 million in damage in the United States and $13 million elsewhere along its path.
The National Hurricane Center also maintains the official Tropical Cyclone Report for Hurricane Donna.

For an interactive map of Hurricane Donna visit the NOAA Coastal Services Center.

Donna holds the record for retaining "major hurricane" status (category 3 or greater on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale) in the Atlantic Basin for the longest period of time on record. For nine days, September 2 to September 11, Donna consistently had sustained winds of at least 115 mph. From the moment it became a tropical depression to when it dissipated after becoming an extratropical storm, Donna roamed the Atlantic from August 29 to September 14, a total of 17 days. While crossing the Atlantic Donna briefly achieved Category 5 strength.

It was the first week of my senior year. I was in my chemistry class (hated chem). We were year round dwellers 'down the shore' living in a classic seventeen room Victorian home. 

I was called to the office for early dismissal as the wind and rain beat on the classroom windows, This clip from the Asbury Park Press tells the tale.

Not totally accurate reporting ... the fire started in the basement when a tree limb came down on a wire and shorted out in the basement. The fire was put out. The firemen didn't realize the fire had traveled between the walls to the third floor where it erupted at the height of the storm. The trucks were stuck on the lawn where wind and rain were too strong to use the ladders.

We never lived there again. The third floor was taken off and the second floor was fixed up. Through Facebook I met a member of the second family to live there after the renovations. Sadly it and the carriage house out back were torn down, along with the big house next-door, The properties are combined with one huge semi-Spanish style  house spanning the two lots.

Loved that house.

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