June 13, 2024

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7:15 AM | *The 54th anniversary of Hurricane Camille…a category 5 at landfall and one of the most devastating storms in US history* — Arcfield Weather

2 min read

Development stage

The first satellite image was taken on April 1, 1960 (TIROS) and weather forecasters knew that one of the best uses of this newly introduced tool would be the ability to monitor tropical waves out over the open waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  Indeed, with the usage of satellite imagery, forecasters first noted a tropical wave off of the African coast as early as August 5th, 1969 and this wave moved westward out over the open tropical Atlantic.  Satellite imagery then showed the system crossing over the Leeward Islands by the 10th of August still with no apparent circulation, but that began to change a few days later.  By the 14th of August, Air Force reconnaissance aircraft sent into the disturbance picked up a central pressure of 999 millibars along with 55 mph surface winds, and satellite imagery showed much more in the way of circulation with numerous bands of heavy rainfall.  It was at this point that the tropical system inherited its name of “Camille” having reached tropical storm status.

Camille did not remain a tropical storm for long as it had favorable conditions for intensification by the middle of the month of August in 1969.  The storm moved slowly northwestward and its central pressure continued to drop. By August 15th, Camille had reached hurricane status as it headed towards Cuba with winds gusting up to 115 mph. Camille passed over western Cuba as a category 1 hurricane and produced 92 mph winds and 10 inches of rain. 

By the 16th of August, Camille had passed Cuba and pushed over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico which helped to continue its intensification.  Another Air Force reconnaissance aircraft was flown into the eye of Camille at this time and a central pressure of 908 millibars was recorded using dropwindsondes.  Hurricane Camille was now headed right towards the northern Gulf coastal region in a north-northwestward direction at 14 mph and it was being called a “small but dangerous” storm by the US Weather Bureau.  Hurricane watches on this day were put up stretching over 400 miles from Biloxi, Mississippi to St. Marks, Florida.

Paul Dorian

2023-08-17 11:15:00

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