Labor Day 2019 is a day that history repeated itself in the Atlantic Tropics. Actually it was on Sunday, but again, another Labor Day was overshadowed by the impact and the threat for more impacts from Hurricane Dorian. It was on this date some 84 years ago, another monster storm was devastating the Florida Keys, the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935.


The storm had winds of 185 mph and gusts well over 200 mph. It was a small yet powerful storm that went through the Florida Straits and into the Keys. The monster hurricane destroyed the Overseas Railroad, a brainchild of Florida businessman, Henry Flagler, and left many World War I Veterans that were working on the railroad. The railroad, which linked the Florida Keys with mainland Florida, was then replaced by the U.S. 1 highway, now the only route out of the Keys.

It was the first Category Five Hurricane to make landfall in the continental United States. Only three other storms: Camille (1969), Andrew (1992), and Michael (2018) have ever done that, and Andrew and Michael were re-evaluated and re-categorized as Cat 5 storms in 2002 and 2019. For a very long time, the storm held the mark for the lowest pressure ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere for 53 years until Hurricane Gilbert surpassed it in September 1988.

Wilma would then surpass the mark made by Gilbert in the wild hurricane season of 2005. In almost the same location as Gilbert near the Yucatan Peninsula, Wilma’s pressure ended up at 882 millibars as it became the fifth Category Five Hurricane that season. Andrew followed a similar path as the Labor Day Hurricane did, but was just a bit further to the north as it made landfall in Homestead in Southern Dade County, Florida.


Dorian is dominating the scene in the Atlantic. However, believe it or not, there are four disturbances being watched throughout the basin from the coast of Africa to the South Central Gulf. The most immediate concern outside of Dorian is located in the South Central Gulf of Mexico. A tropical depression could emerge from this over the next several days. Currently, the chance for development within the next 48 hours is 60 percent, and that probability will increase to 70 percent in five days.

The next feature that needs the most attention, although it is still a long ways out is in the Eastern Atlantic. What the NHC calls an elongated area of low pressure is located several hundred miles west of the Cape Verde Islands. This system is in the prime area of development during the peak of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, and has an 80 percent potential of becoming a tropical cyclone of some kind over the next 48 hours, and a 90 percent chance over the next 5 days.

Further to the east in Western Africa, another wave is about to depart into the Eastern Atlantic, and there is already a 50 percent chance of development into a depression over the next five days. So, the tropical pipeline appears to be firing up just in time for the statistical peak of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which occurs on September 10th. Finally, there is another area of disturbed weather several hundred miles to the south-southeast of Bermuda, which has about a 30 percent chance of formation from 48 hours to 5 days out.

I plan to have another update to the blog on Hurricane Dorian sometime during the day on Tuesday. I also may discuss the severe weather and heavy surf that dominated my Labor Day Weekend trip to Long Beach Island.