Tropical Hurricane Camille struck the United States during the night of August 17, 1969 (official Hurricane Camille date). The storm caused widespread flooding and landslides on the Mississippi River and in the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia. The suddenness of Camille’s appearance stunned not only residents of America’s southern states, but also meteorologists. In total, the hurricane killed 259 people and caused about $1.42 billion in damage. Camille is the most powerful tropical cyclone seen in the 1969 Atlantic basin season, the second of three catastrophic Category 5 hurricanes of the season. Before Hurricane Allen passed in August 1980, Camille held the palm position among all Atlantic hurricanes in terms of recorded wind speed, reaching 310 kilometers per hour at its highest point. Continue reading our article to know more about Hurricane Camille facts.
The formation of the hurricane was at the peak of the season. Although its journey across the Caribbean archipelago and the United States was short, it managed to cause a lot of damage, especially in the USA.
On August 5, a fairly small tropical cyclone formed near the west coast of Africa. When it approached the Grand Cayman Islands on August 14, it had wind speeds of only 90 km/h, which in no way alarmed the experts, who did not anticipate that it could pose a danger. But the cyclone was still given a name- Hurricane Camille.
Very soon, during the 14th and 15th of August, the area of coverage expanded, and the wind speed increased to 180 km/hour. On August 16, enraged Camille moved into the category of hurricanes and devastated the west coast of Cuba, though without serious consequences. When it passed by the island of Liberty the hurricane calmed down a little and the speed of the air currents was reduced to 160 km / h. Meteorologists had hoped for an even greater weakening as Camille moved toward the United States, but their hopes did not materialize. Having crossed the Gulf of Mexico, it intensified, and almost just before the border with America Hurricane Camille category changed into Category 5 on the Saphir-Simpson scale.
On August 17 scientists made several attempts to determine the wind speed inside the vortex, but, unfortunately, without success. And on the evening of August 17, St. Louis Bay, Mississippi, was hit by the storm. The eye of the storm was relatively small – only about 20 km. Since the hurricane was over land, it lost its feeding from the ocean and began to weaken. By August 19, Camille had already subsided considerably, and headed east, bringing heavy rain across the state of Virginia, causing widespread flooding. The downpour caused numerous mudslides. Roads were blocked by fallen trees as they were washed away by the floodwaters. Over 120 bridges and many thousands of homes were destroyed. When the waters receded, only one highway was found to be in working order. When the rain stopped, strong winds rose for several hours. Finally, the former hurricane has weakened near the Atlantic coast.
The hurricane’s actual speed could never be determined: as it passed through Alabama and Mississippi, it destroyed all-weather instruments. However, according to some meteorologists’ estimates, hurricane Camille highest wind speed exceeded 340 km/h. In addition to the serious destruction, Camille left behind many dead and wounded. The number of dead people counted in several hundred and the wounded- approximately 8,500. Such impressive figures of hurricane Camille’s death toll were due to the refusal of many Americans who lived in the risk zone to leave their homes – they hoped to be able to wait out the hurricane in their basements.
Even many meteorologists did not believe in the real power of the approaching disaster. If you consider that in the U.S. Camille came weakened, it is scary to imagine what would happen if it was in full force.
One of the towns in Mississippi was completely destroyed. Nearly 180 square kilometers were turned into a desert. Huge hurricane Camille storm surge swept boats and yachts onto the coast. In Virginia, the property damage from the hurricane was approximately $6 billion.
The emergency services began working in the affected areas almost immediately. The authorities launched a program of financial assistance. The U.S. economy was then experiencing a certain crisis, in addition, the country at that time was involved in the war in Vietnam. After the disaster stopped threatening the states of Alabama, Virginia, and Mississippi, 5,000 prefabricated housing units were sent there in the first instance for those left homeless. For several months, about 90,000 people were still in makeshift shelters. Meanwhile, the rebuilding of what had been destroyed was in full swing. In this difficult work the military, who cleared away the rubble and set up field hospitals, rendered great assistance.
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