1941 Atlantic hurricane season

1941 Atlantic hurricane season
Map of storm tracks over the northeast Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico. Six storms hit regions including Florida, Texas, and northern Central America, often veering northeast after hitting land.
Season summary map
Seasonal boundaries
First system formedSeptember 11, 1941
Last system dissipatedOctober 22, 1941
Strongest storm
 • Lowest pressure942 mbar (hPa; 27.82 inHg)
Seasonal statistics
Total storms6
Major hurricanes
(Cat. 3+)
Total fatalities63
Total damage$10 million (1941 USD)
Atlantic hurricane seasons
1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943

The 1941 Atlantic hurricane season was the period during 1941 in which tropical cyclones formed in the Atlantic Basin. It was a relatively inactive hurricane season, with only six known storms. It officially began on June 16, 1941 and lasted until November 1, 1941.[1] These dates delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones tend to form in the Atlantic basin. Of the six cyclones, four attained hurricane status, and three became major hurricanes. The season had an abnormally late start; the first system formed on September 11, nearly three months after the official beginning date. The season was also short-lived, as all six storms developed in rapid succession. On September 23, three hurricanes existed simultaneously in the Atlantic basin.

In total, the season resulted in about 63 fatalities and over $10 million in damages.[2] The first and last storms of the season were largely insignificant, although the second, fourth, and fifth storms had considerable effects. One hurricane struck Texas and Louisiana in late September, disrupting the Louisiana Maneuvers. Among the most significant storms to impact the United States was Hurricane Five, which made landfall in Florida at Category 3 intensity, inflicting widespread damage. Another major storm—Hurricane Four—traversed the Caribbean, leaving 47 men dead at sea.


1941 Florida hurricane1941 Texas hurricaneSaffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale


Tropical Storm One

Tropical storm (SSHWS)
One 1941-09-12 weather map.jpg 1941 Atlantic tropical storm 1 track.png
DurationSeptember 11 – September 16
Peak intensity60 mph (95 km/h) (1-min)  1001 mbar (hPa)

The first storm of the 1941 season formed on September 11 in the northern Gulf of Mexico. This was an abnormally late start to an Atlantic hurricane season: only on two other occasions between 1887 and 1941 had no storms developed prior to September 11.[2] The storm moved slowly in a generally westward direction for the next few days, peaking as a moderate tropical storm with winds of 45 mph (75 km/h). It made landfall along the northern Texas coast between Galveston and Port Arthur where it caused only minor damage.[2] Near 0000 UTC on September 16, the storm deteriorated into a depression, and dissipated a few hours later.[3]

Hurricane Two

Category 3 hurricane (SSHWS)
Hurricane September 24, 1941 weather map.jpg 1941 Atlantic hurricane 2 track.png
DurationSeptember 17 – September 25
Peak intensity125 mph (205 km/h) (1-min)  942 mbar (hPa)

Tropical Storm Two formed off the western coast of Florida on September 16 and began moving west-southwest.[3] Operationally, the cyclone was first observed on September 18, to the south of Louisiana. After intensifying to a Category 1 hurricane, the storm began drifting southward towards the Yucatan Peninsula, ultimately executing a clockwise loop. By September 21 it had turned northward before assuming a more northwestward course. It moved across the western Gulf of Mexico and went ashore in Texas on September 23. It curved towards the northeast, passing just east of Houston, and accelerated as it continued to move inland. The cyclone transitioned into an extratropical storm on September 24, and was last recorded in southern Quebec.[2]

Warnings and advisories declared in response to the storm were widely distributed, and approximately 25,000 people in the area evacuated their homes.[2] Officials completed various precautionary measures.[4] Wind gusts along the coast reached up to 100 mph (160 km/h),[5] and high storm tides were recorded.[2] The hurricane inflicted severe damage; destruction to property was worth an estimated $2 million, with an additional $5 million in damage to crops, notably rice and cotton. Overall, the cyclone killed four people.[2] The hurricane affected the southern Louisiana region one week before the Louisiana Maneuvers, a prelude to World War II. Heavy rainfall triggered flooding and swelled rivers, and army vehicles became stuck in the mud as a result.[6] The inclement weather forced hundreds of military aircraft to move inland for shelter.[7]

Hurricane Three

Category 1 hurricane (SSHWS)
Three 1941-09-22 weather map.jpg 1941 Atlantic hurricane 3 track.png
DurationSeptember 18 – September 25
Peak intensity80 mph (130 km/h) (1-min)  978 mbar (hPa)

Early on September 18, squally weather was reported throughout the Atlantic coast of Florida, with indications that a circulation center was present 150 mi (240 km) offshore.[2] It is estimated that a tropical storm had formed at around this time.[3] The cyclone began to intensity as it briefly moved northeastward, before abruptly executing an eastward turn. It attained Category 1 hurricane status on September 19, and completed a clockwise loop the next day. It then tracked northwestward toward North Carolina, but began to recurve away from land late on September 22. It weakened into a tropical storm shortly afterward. The system dissipated on September 25 to the south of Nova Scotia. The storm had little or no effect on land, but caused significant delays for North Atlantic shipping. One vessel en route from Curaçao to New York encountered the storm on two separate occasions, recording Force 8 winds on the Beaufort scale both times.[2]

Hurricane Four

Category 4 hurricane (SSHWS)
1941 Central American hurricane track.png 
DurationSeptember 23 – September 30
Peak intensity130 mph (215 km/h) (1-min) ≤ 957 mbar (hPa)

On September 23, a minor area of disturbed weather was observed about 75 mi (121 km) to the northwest of Barbados.[2] It is estimated that it developed into a tropical storm shortly thereafter.[3] Tracking westward, it passed just south of St. Lucia and emerged into the Caribbean Sea. By September 25, the storm had reached hurricane strength.[2] Still intensifying, the storm continued generally westward and reached its peak at Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale.[3] By September 27, the hurricane was situated near Cape Gracias a Dios, Honduras, and accelerated as it moved across the northernmost stretch of the country. After briefly entering the Gulf of Honduras, it moved ashore again in the country, about 70 mi (110 km) south of Belize. Gradually weakening, the storm continued inland and weakened to a tropical storm by September 29. The storm emerged over the Bay of Campeche as a tropical depression and made a final landfall on Veracruz.[2]

Approximately 47 lives were lost at sea due to the hurricane. The SS Ethel Sakel displayed a "sinking" message on September 25, about 125 mi (201 km) north of Aruba; she later went down with 20 of her 33 crew members. Two other ships sent out distress signals, one of which capsized, all hands lost. Damage on land was also extensive, and three people drowned at Cape Gracias, which was largely destroyed by the storm. Coastal flooding in the town was severe.[2] In Belize, forests sustained major damage. For example, in the Melinda region, high winds brought down about 10% of the large pines.[8]

Hurricane Five

Category 3 hurricane (SSHWS)
1941 Florida hurricane Daily Weather Map.jpg 1941 Atlantic hurricane 5 track.png
DurationOctober 3 – October 12
Peak intensity120 mph (195 km/h) (1-min)  962 mbar (hPa)

Tropical Storm Five was first observed to the north of the Virgin Islands on October 3. The storm tracked generally westward through The Bahamas, reaching peak winds of 120 miles per hour (190 km/h), which corresponds to a Category 3 hurricane on the modern-day Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale. After moving across southern Florida the hurricane emerged into the Gulf of Mexico and made another landfall along the Florida Panhandle. Turning toward the north and northeast, it crossed Georgia and South Carolina, and entered the Atlantic Ocean on October 8. The storm fully dissipated several days later.[2]

Preparations for the storm were extensive; residents boarded up homes and businesses, while evacuations were recommended in some coastal areas.[9] In the Bahamas, where winds reached 104 miles per hour (167 km/h), the storm killed three people. The city of Nassau was struck particularly hard. In Florida, damage was relatively severe, and included the deaths of several people. High winds brought down trees and powerlines, though the storm was characterized by highly unusual rainfall patterns. Storm surge in the Everglades region flooded local streets. As the storm progressed northward, the city of Tallahassee suffered widespread power outages and damage to numerous vehicles. Throughout the state, the hurricane inflicted $675,000 (1941 USD) in damages. The cyclone later killed one person in Georgia.[2][10]

Tropical Storm Six

Tropical storm (SSHWS)
Two 1941-10-20 weather map.jpg 1941 Atlantic tropical storm 6 track.png
DurationOctober 15 – October 22
Peak intensity50 mph (85 km/h) (1-min)  1002 mbar (hPa)

A tropical storm formed on October 15, and passed through the southern Bahamas. It crossed the Florida Straits, and reached its peak intensity with winds of 50 mph (85 km/h) on October 20, after entering the eastern Gulf of Mexico and turning towards the north.[3] It curved northeastward and made landfall at Cedar Key, Florida.[2] After pushing inland, the storm stalled and weakened to a tropical depression on October 21 before dissipating fully the next day.[3]

The storm's slow forward motion over the state of Florida led to heavy widespread precipitation, locally amounting to 10 to 15 in (250 to 380 mm). Gale-force winds were also reported. Some flood damage occurred throughout the affected locations.[2] An infant was killed following the destruction of a house, possibly related to a tornado spawned by the tropical storm; the baby's parents also sustained injuries.[11]

See also


  1. ^ "Don't Get Alarmed But Hurricane Season Is Now Officially 'Open'". Port Arthur News. June 16, 1941. Retrieved November 6, 2009.[dead link]
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Howard C. Sumner (1942). "North Atlantic Tropical Disturbances of 1941" (PDF). Weather Bureau. Retrieved November 6, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Atlantic hurricane best track (HURDAT version 2)" (Database). United States National Hurricane Center. December 12, 2019.
  4. ^ "Hurricane Poised to Hit Texas". The Evening Independent. September 23, 1941. Retrieved November 6, 2009.
  5. ^ "Houston, Tex., Feels Lash of Coastal Storm". The Chicago Daily Tribune. September 24, 1941. Retrieved November 6, 2009.
  6. ^ Velmer Lenora Smith. "World War II — Louisiana Maneuvers". Beauregard Parish Library. Archived from the original on April 12, 2010. Retrieved November 6, 2009.
  7. ^ "Gulf Storm Is Headed For Texas". The Evening Independent. September 22, 1941. Retrieved November 6, 2009.
  8. ^ Jon Friesner (April 1993). Hurricanes in Belize (PDF) (Report). Belize Forest Department. Retrieved November 6, 2009.
  9. ^ Barnes, Jay (2007). Florida's Hurricane History. Chapel Hill Press. p. 162. ISBN 0-8078-3068-2.
  10. ^ Edward Morgan Brooks (1945). An Unusual Rainfall Distribution in a Hurricane (PDF) (Sc.D thesis). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved November 6, 2009.
  11. ^ "Baby Perishes in Florida Storm". The New York Times. October 21, 1941. Retrieved November 6, 2009.

External links