National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Dangerous Heat in the Western U.S.; Flash Flooding Possible Across Portions of the South

High temperatures in the 90s to 100s and warm overnight temperatures will continue across parts of the Interior Northwest, central California, and the Great Basin. Thunderstorms and heavy rain may produce scattered flash flooding across much of the Southern Rockies into the Southwest, particularly over sensitive burn scars in New Mexico, and across the Southeast into the Carolinas. Read More >

Click to view the NWS Tampa Bay 1921 Hurricane Story Map
Click on the image above to view the NWS Tampa Bay 1921 Hurricane Story Map.

Overview

On October 25, 1921, the Tampa Bay Area suffered the most destructive hurricane to hit the area since 1848. A storm surge of up to 11 feet damaged and destroyed a significant amount of the structures along coastal locations from Pasco county south through southwest Florida. The highest storm surge inundated areas in downtown Tampa and Tarpon Springs. Many vessels, like the steamer “Favorite”, and the “Thomas B. Garland” were smashed against the docks by the waves. Other ships became unmoored and smashed into the docks and seawalls, causing additional destruction, or sank. Still other vessels moved inland with the surge and became beached as the water receded. Waves from the Bay were almost breaking in the streets of Ybor City. Numerous structures near the coast sustained heavy damage from being washed out by the storm surge. Structures further inland had to endure the powerful winds that also accompanied the storm. Winds were estimated at 120 mph near the landfall point in Tarpon Springs. The Tampa Weather Office at the time reported a peak wind of 75 mph with the storm. Numerous power poles and trees were downed from the winds, roofs were badly damaged, and windows were blown out of structures.

Agriculture, and the citrus industry in particular, was also hard hit by the storm, which destroyed entire crop fields from the winds and the surge caused salt water intrusion into the soils which prevented some crops from being able to return in future seasons.

There were eight confirmed fatalities, nearly half due to drowning as the storm surge inundated near shore locations, and others from the hazards of the fallen debris like live wires.

Without the support of modern tools, such as satellites, radars, computer graphics, and mathematical models, the forecast for such an event was extremely difficult as it was completely dependent on sparse marine and land observations. Most of the hurricane forecasts in those days were based on climatological data from previous hurricanes, which suggested that in general, cyclones moving over the Gulf of Mexico had a tendency of passing well north of Tampa.