• Wed. May 22nd, 2024

Hurricane Dorian will make its approach to the Southeast coast on Labor Day weekend, which is right in the middle of what is historically the busiest portion of the Atlantic hurricane season and is also known for having the most intense U.S. hurricane landfall on record.

No hurricanes have hit the U.S. on Labor Day weekend in the past few years, but there have been some storms threatening around that time.

In 2018, Tropical Storm Gordon formed near the Gulf Coast of Florida on Labor Day and brought rain and gusty winds to parts of the peninsula.

No storms hit the U.S. on Labor Day weekend in 2017, however, Florida was put into the projected path of Hurricane Irma for the first time as the weekend came to a close. Residents of Texas were also beginning their recovery from the disastrous impacts caused by Hurricane Harvey.

Hurricane Hermine in 2016 made landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast the Friday before Labor Day, leaving residents there a mess to clean up from over the holiday weekend.

Here is a look back at some of the worst Labor Day weekend hurricanes in history.

1935: The Labor Day Hurricane

Track of the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane.

On Sept. 2, 1935, the “Labor Day Hurricane” made landfall in the central Florida Keys as a Category 5 storm, in the depth of the Great Depression.

It made a second landfall near Cedar Key, Florida, as a Category 2 hurricane on Sept. 4.

During the storm’s lifetime, a minimum central pressure of 892.3 millibars (or 26.35 inches) was recorded at Long Key, Florida. This pressure reading makes the 1935 “Labor Day Hurricane” the most intense hurricane, based on the pressure at landfall, of record to hit the United States.

It is also the third most intense hurricane on record in the Atlantic Basin, behind only Hurricane Wilma in 2005 and Hurricane Gilbert in 1988. A combination of high winds and tides was responsible for 408 deaths in the Florida Keys and a likely vastly underestimated $6 million in damage, which translates to more than $110 million in 2018 dollars.

More than 250 of the victims were World War I veterans working on laying the infrastructure to make the Florida Keys accessible to tourism, vacationers and eventually residents. Many of the veterans were caught in a failed evacuation attempt from the islands.

1950: Hurricane Easy

Track of Hurricane Easy, 1950

Hurricane Easy paralleled the western Florida coast as a growing hurricane on Labor Day in 1950 and then completed two loops in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico in the following days. One of those loops was near the town of Cedar Key, which stayed near the eye of Easy for two and a half hours.

Winds as high as 125 mph pummeled Cedar Key and the rest of Florida’s Nature Coast while the hurricane spun near and just offshore.

More than half of the houses in Cedar Key were destroyed beyond rehabilitation and 90% of the remaining homes were damaged. Fishing boats were completely destroyed, a major blow to the community built on fishing.

More than 2 feet of rain was recorded in Cedar Key, but only two people were killed by Easy because of the low population of the Nature Coast at the time.

1952: Hurricane Able

Surface analysis of Hurricane Able.

A Category 1 storm, Hurricane Able made landfall near Beaufort, South Carolina, on Aug. 31, 1952, just a few hours shy of the official Labor Day holiday.

Able produced 90 mph winds at Beaufort and drenched eastern South Carolina. Able caused two deaths and more than $3 million in damage (or $28 million in 2018 USD).

1979: Hurricane David

Satellite imagery of Hurricane David as it made landfall near Savannah, Ga.

Hurricane David made landfall as a Category 2 hurricane on Sept. 4, 1979, near the border of Georgia and South Carolina. David produced 100 mph winds, and the minimum central pressure was 970 millibars.

Once David moved inland, the storm spawned five tornadoes, and it dumped 6 to 8 inches of rain throughout South Carolina. Hurricane David also caused heavy beach erosion and $10 million in damage.

1985: Hurricane Elena

Satellite imagery of Hurricane Elena just before it made landfall in the Florida Panhandle.

On Sept. 2, 1985, Hurricane Elena made landfall near Biloxi, Mississippi. Wind gusts reached as high as 136 mph to the east of the landfall point on Dauphin Island, Alabama. Hurricane Elena produced over a dozen tornadoes in central Florida.

In addition, more than 11 inches of rain fell in Apalachicola, Florida, and over 8 inches of rain fell in north-central Arkansas.

More than 500,000 people evacuated the low-lying coastal areas of the Gulf, and many people in the middle Gulf Coast evacuated twice. Although no deaths were reported where the center of the storm made landfall, four people died because of falling trees, automobile accidents, and heart attacks. Overall, Hurricane Elena caused $1.25 billion in damage.

Other Notable Labor Day Weekend Hurricanes

Hurricane Edouard, 1996: Although Category 4 Edouard never made landfall in the United States, it moved close enough to New England to produce hurricane-force winds at Nantucket Island. Two deaths were attributed to Edouard, both of which occurred in heavy surf.

Satellite image of Hurricane Edouard.

Hurricane Charlie, 1948: A quickly developing (or unforeseen) Category 1 hurricane made landfall in south-central Louisiana. A storm surge of 3-6 feet and strong winds damaged crops, boats, and power lines in Louisiana as the storm moved inland. Rain fell as far inland as Indiana and Michigan.

Hurricane Babe, 1977: Another quickly developing hurricane made landfall in southern Louisiana a few decades later. Babe brought more than a dozen tornadoes and heavy rainfall as far inland as North Carolina.

Hurricane Isaac, 2012: While Isaac made landfall in late August along the Louisiana coastline, it still created headaches for millions of people preparing for the Labor Day holiday. From massive clean up efforts to increased gas prices, and a tornado outbreak, Isaac ruined plans along the Gulf Coast and into the Midwest.

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