Hurricane Janet: Wikis

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Hurricane Janet
Category 5 hurricane (SSHS)
Formed September 21, 1955
Dissipated September 30, 1955
Highest
winds
175 mph (280 km/h) (1-minute sustained)
Lowest pressure ≤ 914 mbar (hPa; 26.99 inHg)
Fatalities 687+ direct
Damage $48 million (1955 USD)
$382 million (2010 USD)
Areas
affected
Leeward Islands, Belize, Mexico
Part of the
1955 Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane Janet was the most powerful hurricane of the 1955 Atlantic hurricane season and one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record. It made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, causing catastrophic damage and at least 687 deaths in the Lesser Antilles, Yucatán Peninsula, and mainland Mexico.

Contents

Meteorological history

Storm path

A weak tropical wave moved across the tropical Atlantic in mid-September. It organized into a tropical storm on September 21 east of the Lesser Antilles. A small hurricane, it rapidly organized on the 22nd becoming a Category 3 hurricane just as it hit Barbados with a 20 nautical miles (37 km) wide eye and a very small wind field. The storm passed through the Grenadines on the following day.[1] As it moved through the eastern Caribbean Sea, conditions became unfavorable for continued development, and Janet weakened to a minimal hurricane on the 23rd. Over the next few days, Janet steadily intensified with better conditions, reaching a peak of 175 mph (280 km/h) winds in the western Caribbean Sea.[1]

On September 26, the Hurricane Hunter mission Snowcloud Five was lost in the storm taking with it seven crew members. This is the only Hurricane mission lost in the Atlantic.[2]

Janet remained a Category 5 hurricane, and hit near the city of Chetumal, Mexico near the border of Quintana Roo and British Honduras (modern-day Belize) on September 28. Wind gusts at landfall were measured at 175 mph (280 km/h) before instruments were destroyed, and the central pressure in Chetumal was measured at 27.00 inHg (914 mbar/hPa). At the time this was the strongest recorded mainland landfall of any Atlantic hurricane, and second overall only behind the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane.[1]

As it crossed the Yucatán Peninsula, the hurricane's winds weakened to 100 mph (160 km/h). Over the Bay of Campeche, it did not have much time to restrengthen, and struck mainland Mexico between Veracruz, Veracruz and Nautla on the 29th as a Category 2 hurricane. Janet dissipated the next day over Mexico.[1]

Impact

Storm deaths by region
Region Deaths
Barbados 38[1]
Grenadines 122[1]
Hurricane Hunters 11[1]
British Honduras 16[1]
Quintana Roo 500[1]
Veracruz  ?[1]
Tamaulipas  ?[1]
Total 687+

Janet caused at least $48 million (1955 USD) in damage through its path of destruction. In addition, Janet caused at least 687 deaths.[1]

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Lesser Antilles

While in its early stages, Janet passed just south of Barbados on September 22, the first hurricane to strike the island in 57 years; maximum winds on the south side of the island were estimated by locals at 110-120 mph. There were 38 deaths reported on Barbados.[1]

On September 23 Janet passed directly between Grenada and Carriacou in the Grenadines, killing another 122 people in this island chain.[1] St. Vincent was leveled[3] and St. Lucia suffered significant coastal damage[4].

Over $2.8 million (1955 USD) of damage was estimated throughout the Lesser Antilles.[1]

Central Caribbean

Janet was the only Atlantic hurricane to cause the loss of a Hurricane Hunter aircraft, a P2V Neptune under the command of Navy Lieutenant Commander Grover B. Windham and with eleven crew and passengers on board. The last transmission from the flight came at 8:30 a.m. on September 26 and indicated they were entering the eyewall of the storm.[1]

The eye of Janet passed over the Swan Islands on the 27th, where a U.S weather post was destroyed. No deaths were reported as the crew abandoned the station to take shelter shortly before the worst of the storm struck the island.[1]

Yucatán Peninsula

At 1 a.m. CST on September 28 Janet made landfall on the Yucatán Peninsula just north of the border of Mexico and British Honduras, as a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. In all about 500 deaths and $45 million (1955 USD) of damage was caused at this landfall.[1]

Corozal in British Honduras suffered the weaker side of the storm, as the southern eyewall passed over the city. Sixteen deaths and $5 million (1955 USD) in damages were reported in British Honduras.[1]

Chetumal, Mexico was devastated, with only four buildings left standing. Storm surge pushed water to a depth of 6.5 feet 1600 feet inland, despite the peninsula protecting the city from the open ocean. The death toll is uncertain; 120 bodies were recovered in the city but it is unknown how many were never found; total deaths were estimated at 500 throughout Quintana Roo. Damages in the state were $40 million (1955 USD).[1]

Mainland Mexico

Janet made another landfall in the Mexican state of Veracruz, between the cities of Nautla and Veracruz. No reports of damage or fatalities are available from the landfall itself.

Inland, as Janet dissipated over mountainous central Mexico, the storm dropped torrential rainfall over the Tamisi and Panuco River basins.[5] In the vicinity of Tampico in Tamaulipas, the flooding added to rainfall already dropped by Hurricanes Gladys and Hilda earlier in the 1955 season.[1] The flooding that resulted was reported by the New Orleans Weather Bureau Office to be one of the worst natural disasters in Mexico's history.[1] According to some sources, 800 people died from the floods, with thousands more being stranded in the city.[5]

Retirement

The name Janet was used on various tropical cyclone naming lists in the 1960s. Once formal lists for hurricane naming were created, however, the name Janet was retired and will never be used for an Atlantic hurricane again.

See also

References

Tropical cyclones of the 1955 Atlantic hurricane season
J
Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale
TD TS 1 2 3 4 5

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