The Hurricane of 1926 on the Gulf Coast

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Weather Map from September 20, 1926
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Hurricane of 1926 in Mobile, Courtesy Erik Overbey Collection, The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library, USA

The hurricane of September 20th, 1926 in Mobile had devastated Miami two days earlier with wind of 128 mph. It is known there as the Great Miami Hurricane. It nearly stalled to the south of Pensacola and buffeted the central Gulf Coast with 24 hours of heavy rain, hurricane force winds, and storm surge. Nearly every pier, warehouse, and vessel on Pensacola Bay was destroyed.

From Monthly Weather Review… the center closely approached Pensacola.

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Hurricane of 1926 in Mobile, Courtesy Erik Overbey Collection, The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library, USA

Shortly afterward the center was definitely located as passing over Perdido Beach, Baldwin Co., Ala., where a minimum reading of 28.20 inches was observed between 3 and 4 p.m. with a lull in the wind and a shift from northeast to southwest. It moved thence toward the west passing a short distance south of Mobile at 9:30 p.m. The center passed a very short distance south of Pascagoula, Miss., at 5:25 a.m. of the 21st. The northern edge of the “eye” of the storm passed over Biloxi about 8 a.m.

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Pensacola Aftermath of Hurricane of September 20, 1926

In Pensacola, the peak wind was 116 mph. The water rose steadily in the face of northeast winds of hurricane force. The highest water occurred before the winds became true southeast. The high stage of 9.4 feet above mean sea level has been accurately determined but reliable persons who experienced the 1906 storm assert that the water was higher this year than in 1906, probably by two feet.

Mobile had a peak wind of 94 mph. In the Mobile River, there was a steadily decreasing tide with the northerly winds until an unprecedented low stage occurred. This unusual condition became troublesome and caused slight damage to boats that had sought

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Hurricane of 1926 in Mobile, Courtesy Erik Overbey Collection, The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library, USA

shelter at Twelve Mile Island, upriver from Mobile, as it increased the height of the river bank above water, and the swaying of the trees caused large sections of ground with timber to slide into the river.

Read the full account of this storm from Monthly Weather Review, and see more photos here and here.

USA Archives photo credit goes to The Doy Leale McCall Library at the University of South Alabama.

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