Wednesday, 24 September 2014

25th Anniversary of Hurricane Hugo - South Carolina to Montreal

Powerful Hurricane Hugo making landfall at midnight on September 22, 1989. Just 24 hours later the storm would be near Ottawa and Montreal.
Long before hurricane Sandy, Irene, Juan, Katrina and Andrew among other infamous storms, there was Hugo. Hurricane Hugo was a tight but powerful Atlantic storm that developed off the coast of Africa on September 10, 1989 and moved rapidly across the  northern Caribbean and into the Atlantic. Hugo would reach Category 5 at his strongest with winds over 260km/h. The storm took on odd approach to the coast slamming into the low country of South Carolina with 140mph winds at midnight on September 22. Hugo was devastating with a record storm surge of nearly 20 feet north of Charleston and south of Myrtle Beach. The infrastructure and dune system along the coast was demolished from extreme southern North Carolina to northern Georgia. But hardest hit were the communities north of Charleston where the surge virtually wiped the area clean. 49 people lost there lives along with a record (at the time) $7 billion dollars in damage.

Environment Canada map showing the path of tropical storm Hugo across eastern Canada. (Double click map for a closer look).
Quebec & Ontario
Inland Hugo was fast and furious with winds that produced major damage from North Carolina towards the southern Great Lakes.The hill country of central and western North Carolina was hammered by high winds that leveled entire forests. Trees took out power lines, landed on homes and cars. Power was out for weeks as a result. Further north Hugo entered southern Ontario late on September 22nd and moved rapidly from Kingston towards Ottawa and into the Laurentians. Montreal was on the warm south side of the storm. We had lots of wind but little rain. In Toronto 75km/h winds and 47mm of rain occurred, but only 11mm of rain in Montreal. The wind in Ontario cut power to thousands of homes. In southern Quebec the storm arrived around midnight on Saturday, September 23rd, just 24 hours from South Carolina to Montreal. I was working for the Montreal Gazette at the time driving in the Lasalle and Verdun area. It was a wild night with winds gusting from 70-95km/h in the St Lawrence Valley and stronger on the south shore, 98km/h at St. Hubert. Numerous trees fell and power went out to over 13,000 homes in metro Montreal including my home in Verdun for 12 hours. Another feature of the storm was the warm tropical air that arrived with Hugo. Montreal reached 29C (85F) on September 22nd and it was still nearly 24C (76F) at midnight on the 23rd. But as the storm pushed through the region the mercury fell rapidly and dropped to 5C (41F) by 11pm on the 23rd.

Hugo then affected New Brunswick with a peak wind gust to 124km/h at Moncton. Power was out to nearly 15,000 New Brunswick homes. The 1989 apple crop took a beating with much of the fruit stripped from the trees in New Brunswick. Heavy rain fell north of the track across Labrador and into Newfoundland. Hugo dissipated on September 25th.

No comments:

Post a Comment