Mobile’s Hurricane History Has Been Active

hurricane tracks
Recent hurricane tracks for the central Gulf Coast.

These are significant or memorable hurricanes that have affected the Mobile area since 1900. Most of the storms were very strong while others were extremely destructive. Some are remembered for their heavy rain. Not every hurricane that affected Mobile is listed here although you will find local impact summaries of recent tropical storms and hurricanes at the Mobile National Weather Service office Events Page.

1906, September 27th
Major Hurricane, Category Unknown. The hurricane moved inland in Pensacola, and was the strongest hurricane to strike Pensacola since 1736.

Hurricane of 1916, in Mobile on July 5.
Hurricane of 1916, in Mobile on July 5.

1916, July 5th
Major Hurricane, Category Three. The pressure measured at Fort Morgan was 28.38 inches, or 961 Mb. The Hurricane made landfall just west of Mobile. Storm surge on the Mobile River was almost 12 feet. Extreme damage and impact along the coast with dollar amount over $3 million in 1916 dollars.

1916, October 18th
Major Hurricane, Category Three. Winds reached 114 mph at landfall. It moved inland over Pensacola.

1926, September 20th
Major Hurricane, Category Three. The pressure at Perdido Beach measured 28.20 inches, or 955 Mb. Significant flooding occurred in South Mobile and Baldwin Counties.

Hurricane Destruction
Hurricane Camille Destruction on Mississippi coast in 1969

1969, August 17th
Hurricane Camille, Category Five. Camille is the strongest known land-falling hurricane in recorded history. Winds were estimated at 175 mph at landfall on the Mississippi coast. Hurricane Camille was extremely small, and moved inland near Bay St. Louis, MS. Great damage occurred throughout coastal Mississippi, with a recorded pressure of 26.84 inches, or 909 Mb. The storm surge was estimated at 22-25 feet. The devastation of Camille inspired the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. Here are several photo galleries and other information. Watch streaming video of A Lady Named Camille, a 29 minute documentary of the damage from Camille. At that time, the Navy was sending planes into hurricanes.

hurricane on radar
Hurricane Frederic radar in 1979

1979, September 12th
Hurricane Frederic, Category Three. Frederic strengthened from a category one to a category four storm in 30 hours while in the Gulf of Mexico, but weakened before landfall. The sustained winds reached 100 mph at landfall with gusts near 145 mph. Frederic moved inland near Mobile Bay and the Dauphin Island Bridge. The wind resulted in incredible damage to Mobile. Frederic was the first major hurricane to affect Mobile since 1926. Watch WKRG-TV News archive video of the days and recovery following Frederic and this 10 year anniversary WKRG TV5 program, from 1989.

Between 1995-2005 there were seven hurricanes that had a significant impact on the Mobile Bay area. That does not include Hurricane Cindy or Hurricane Isidore since these passed farther west.

1985, September 2
Hurricane Elena, Category Three. Hurricane Elena’s path was erratic in the Gulf. It made landfall near Biloxi, Mississippi, with most of Mobile getting little impact. Dauphin Island was hit hard with steady winds over 100mph, and storm surge up to 8 feet, as Elena arrived.

Hurricane Erin Track
Hurricane Erin Track in 1995

1995, August 3rd
Hurricane Erin, Category Two. Hurricane Erin had winds of 100 mph at landfall, and it moved inland near Pensacola, FL. Hurricane Erin was the first of two local Hurricanes in 1995.

1995, October 4th
Hurricane Opal, Category Three. Hurricane winds were estimated near 115 mph at landfall, and Opal moved inland near Santa Rosa Island, FL. Hurricane Opal reached category four strength, rapidly intensifying from a category one hurricane in only 18 hours. Hurricane Opal attained category four status 200 miles south of Pensacola. Before landfall, Opal weakened to a category three, but still caused major damage in Pensacola. The storm surge reached 12-20 feet. The highest rain total near Pensacola in the Ellyson community reached 15.45 inches.

Hurricane Danny1997, July 19th
Hurricane Danny, Category One. Hurricane Danny had wind gusts reaching 80 mph at landfall as it crossed Mullet Point south of Point Clear in Baldwin County. Hurricane Danny then stalled over Mobile Bay and brought record flooding to south Alabama. Rain totals at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab reached 36.71 inches with 25.98 inches of that in seven hours.

1998, September 28th
Hurricane Georges, Strong Category Two. Hurricane Georges delivered sustained winds of 103 mph at landfall, and then it moved inland near Biloxi MS. Hurricane Georges produced 16.7 inches of rain in Pascagoula. The storm surge reached 12 feet near Fort Morgan, and Georges produced 25 foot waves in the Gulf of Mexico. Georges slowed in forward speed once it approached Alabama. This led to huge rain amounts. In Bay Minette, a rain total of nearly 30 inches was recorded.

hurricane Ivan
Hurricane Ivan from the International Space Station

2004, September 16th
Hurricane Ivan, Category Three. Hurricane Ivan had winds around 120 mph at landfall, and it moved inland near Gulf Shores. Ivan was the strongest Hurricane from Baldwin to Santa Rosa Counties in more than 100 years. 160 miles inland, near Demopolis, AL, a wind gust near 90 mph was recorded. Rain totals reached 15.75 inches in Pensacola, with a storm surge in Escambia Bay of 12 feet.

At the time, Hurricane Ivan was the worst storm to strike the central Gulf Coast in 25 years. It made landfall around 1 am on Thursday, September 16, 2004 along the Fort Morgan Peninsula.  The eye traveled northward through Alabama’s Baldwin County, then along the Alabama River into central Alabama. The worst damage was along the Gulf coastline of Baldwin County and Escambia County, Florida, but damage was extensive from wind and tornadoes in communities such as Atmore Alabama, and others as far as 100 miles inland. Watch this 10-year anniversary retrospective, along with more story links, Hurricane Ivan’s Impact on the Gulf Coast or just view the video here.

The Mobile National Weather Service office has an extensive summary of the events surrounding Hurricane Ivan’s landfall. Check the National Hurricane Center for their comprehensive summary of Ivan.

FEMA has compiled an extensive set of images showing how bad the surge flooding was. Check out FEMA’s Ivan Flood Recovery Maps.

Montage satellite image of the life of Ivan
Enhanced satellite loop of landfall from NOAA
Pensacola Before and After from NASA space images

Gulf Shores Before and After from NASA space images
Ivan’s life seen from NASA space images
The National Ocean Service has aerials of all coasts after Ivan
The USGS has more dramatic before and after pictures
The meteorology department at the University of South Alabama did a comprehensive Ivan DVD

2005, July 10th
Hurricane Dennis, Category Three. Hurricane Dennis carried winds of 121 mph at landfall, as it moved inland near Navarre Beach. Dennis had an extremely small eye, and was only significant in a localized area. Dennis prompted a large scale evacuation as it  reached category four status in the Gulf of Mexico before it weakened near the central Gulf coast.

The Hurricane Dennis Summary was compiled mainly by the Mobile National Weather Service office. The final National Weather Service summary includes additional photo galleries, radar loops and links to more aerial photos. The landfall of Hurricane Dennis was 2:25 pm Sunday, July 10, 2005 near Navarre Beach, Florida as a Category 3 Hurricane. Winds were between 115mph and 120mph. The eye was less than 10 miles across.

hurricane katrina radar2005, August 29th
Hurricane Katrina, Category Three. Hurricane Katrina had winds at landfall estimated at 120 mph. It moved inland near Waveland MS. Hurricane Katrina was the costliest and one of the deadliest U.S. disasters. Hurricane Katrina produced a 27 foot storm surge in Hancock County, MS, and breached levees in New Orleans. The highest storm surge along Mobile Bay reached 12 feet at the USS Alabama along I-10. The death toll from Hurricane Katrina was over 1,800.

HURRICANE KATRINA was a Category 5 with 175mph wind before landfall. The eye crossed the Louisiana Delta on Monday August 29, 2005 at 6:10am in southern Plaquemines Parish, near the community of Buras as a high Category 3 with winds of 125mph. At the time of landfall the hurricane force winds extended up to 125 miles east AND 125 miles west of the center, stretching into the Florida panhandle making it extremely devastating.

Read the full storm summary for Hurricane Katrina of wind, pressure and storm surge from the Mobile National Weather Service or from theHurricane Research Division of NOAA You can also check another storm history on Katrina from the National Climatic Data Center. Katrina will go down in the record books for devastation, cost and fatalities. The National Hurricane Center also has the most current revised summaries of Katrina and other past major storms.

Katrina Damage
The Alba Club in Mobile, after Hurricane Katrina.

NOAA aerial photos of LA, MS & AL coasts after Katrina
More aerial coastal photos from NOAA
US Geological Survey New Orleans before and After Katrina
USGS before and after coastal images and hi res pictures
NASA Dauphin Island before and after Katrina
Another high resolution image of New Orleans on 8/31/05
NASA’s images of Katrina and the science behind the storm
NOAA’s Significant Imagery of Katrina and other Gulf storms
Helicopter photos of Katrina damage
NOAA photos and impact assessment

Search US Air Force images of Katrina’s effects at Keesler AFB
Search for more Katrina photos in FEMA’s photo gallery
Aircraft images inside Katrina’s eye from NOAA
The US Coast Guard has an image gallery of Katrina. Log in as guest and search for Katrina

Wave simulation damage to bridge video

NOAA continues to keep track of the marine debris cleanup from Katrina. Check before you boat!

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