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National Weather Service, Mobile-Pensacola

 

Hurricane Camille
August 17, 1969


Late in the evening on August 17 in 1969, Hurricane Camille made landfall along the Mississippi Gulf Coast near Waveland. Camille is one of only THREE Category 5 hurricanes ever to make landfall in the United States, the other two being the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane in the Florida Keys and Hurricane Andrew, which hit the Miami, FL area in 1992. Camille also ranks as the 2nd most intense hurricane (ranked by pressure) to strike the continental US with the 2 hurricanes listed above ranked 1 and 3, respectively. The actual maximum sustained winds are not known, as the hurricane destroyed all the wind-recording instruments in the landfall area. Re-analysis data showed peak winds of 175mph along the coast. A devastating storm tide of 24.6 feet occurred west of our area in Pass Christian, MS.

 Photo courtesy of NOAA, Office for Coastal Management, DigitalCoast

 

Hurricane Camille impacted the entire region, especially counties across southeast Mississippi and southwest Alabama in our area. Counties in southeast Mississippi had the greatest damage due to the proximity to Camille's path across the state of Mississippi. Winds gusted to 100mph across much of southern Mississippi. Moderate wind damage extended inland to Stone and George Counties in Mississippi with minor damage further inland, mainly restricted to fallen trees and powerlines. Further east from the path of Camille, hurricane force winds were reported on Dauphin Island and along the coast of Grand Bay and Portersville Bay. No reporting station across the Florida panhandle observed hurricane force winds.

Most property damage along the immediate coast was caused by high tides. The tide was estimated at 10 feet above the astronomical tide on the night of the 17th through the 18th of August across Dauphin Island coastal Mobile County. Further east, the storm tide was estimated at 6.3 feet above astronomical tide in the Pensacola area, 4.5 feet above astronomical tide across coastal Santa Rosa County and 4.0 feet above astronomical tide across coastal Okaloosa County. 

The greatest damage across our area was found along Dauphin Island and along the coast and northward to the Mobile and Prichard areas (in addition to all of southeast Mississippi). Damage consisted of roof damage, partial destruction of buildings, fallen trees and washed out roads across Mobile and Baldwin Counties in southwest Alabama and Stone and George Counties in southeast Mississippi. Powerlines and trees were down across the entire area.

Crop damage was extensive across southeast Mississippi with the total destruction of many tung and pecan orchards. Crop damage across south Alabama was limited to Baldwin, Mobile and western Washington Counties. Pecans, soybean and corn crops were damaged or destroyed. Pecan damage was extensive and approximately 20,000 acres of corn was flattened. It was estimated that 90% of crop damage across the area was due to the wind while 10% was due to the rain. Total property damage for the Florida panhandle, including beach erosion and crop losses, were estimated near 1/2 million dollars (1969 value, not current conversion value) with the major portion of the damage in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties.

 

Based on preliminary data from the NWS, here is a brief timeline of the damage and path of Camille:

August 17, 1969
450pm - Hangar wall blown down at the Fairhope Airport in Fairhope, AL
530pm - Tornado reported in Waynesboro, MS
600pm - Streets completely covered with water in Bayou La Batre, AL
630pm - Tornado reported in Pensacola, FL earlier in the afternoon
930pm - Violent winds observed along coast

1000pm - 62mph wind observed in Mobile, AL
1130pm - Power lines down throughout Mobile County, AL

August 18, 1969
1245am - Eye of Camille moved over McHenry, MS

120am - 74mph wind observed in Mobile, AL

 

 

More Information (Technical Papers and Assessments)

RECENT REANALYSIS RESEARCH
     A Reanalysis of Hurricane Camille - Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society
          Authors: Margaret E. Kieper (FIU), Christopher W. Landsea & John L. Beven (NHC)


NOAA Coastal Services Interactive Map

NHC Preliminary Report
NHC Hurricanes In History Summary

NWS Local Write-Ups and Webpages:
     NWS Jackson, MS

 

 


Acknowledgements: Page created by Morgan Barry (Forecaster), Jason Beaman (WCM) and Don Shepherd (senior forecaster, Tropical Focal Point).

LAST UPDATED: September 2016