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M. Chenoweth and C. J. Mock

Among the most unusual and unexpected hurricanes in United States history is the only hurricane to make landfall in the month of May. This recently rediscovered storm that struck northwest Florida on 28 May 1863 created a natural disaster in the area that became lost to history because it was embedded in a much larger and important manmade event—in this case, the U.S. Civil War. The authors document the arrival of this storm both historically and meteorologically and anachronistically name it “Hurricane Amanda” in honor of the Union ship driven ashore by the hurricane. The hurricane revealed deficiencies and strengths in combat readiness by both sides. Meteorologically, the storm nearly achieved major hurricane status at landfall and its absence from modern databases of tropical cyclone activity is a useful reminder to users of important gaps in our knowledge of tropical cyclones even in the best-sampled storm basins.

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J. M. Vaquero, R. García-Herrera, D. Wheeler, M. Chenoweth, and C. J. Mock

This paper documents a rare spell of severe weather in Spain that took place during the mid-nineteenth century when a tropical storm struck the southwest of the country on 29 October 1842. The use of a variety of independent documentary sources has provided unprecedented scope for the analysis of this event, allowing it to be set within its wider context, and for a judgement to be made on its tropical origin. The evidence suggests that this was similar, though stronger, to the more recent Hurricane Vince, which made landfall in Spain on 10 October 2005. This case study not only places Hurricane Vince, suggested at the time to have been unique, in its more proper long-term context, but it also demonstrates how documentary sources can improve our wider understanding of climate dynamics during historical times in the Atlantic basin.

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D. Wheeler, R. Garcia-Herrera, J. M. Vaquero, M. Chenoweth, and C. J. Mock

This paper draws on a range of contemporary documentary evidence from the New and Old Worlds as well as from the oceanic regions to reconstruct the trajectory and intensity of an Atlantic hurricane from August 1680. In doing so, it offers the example of one of the earliest and most comprehensive hurricane reconstructions thus far attempted. The source material includes evidence from land-based observers and some of the earliest examples of instrumental barometric data from the Caribbean and from Europe; importantly, it also calls on the written accounts offered in ships' logbooks from various parts of the Atlantic. The latter provide the opportunity of tracking the system across the otherwise data-deficient areas of the North Atlantic as it recurved toward Europe. The findings are of intrinsic interest in documenting a notable historical event. They also offer a methodological model of how such a variety of documentary sources can be drawn together and used to identify, track, and reconstruct such events from the distant past and thereby improve the chronology of hurricanes and make more reliable our interpretation of their changing frequencies.

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L. C. Slivinski, G. P. Compo, P. D. Sardeshmukh, J. S. Whitaker, C. McColl, R. J. Allan, P. Brohan, X. Yin, C. A. Smith, L. J. Spencer, R. S. Vose, M. Rohrer, R. P. Conroy, D. C. Schuster, J. J. Kennedy, L. Ashcroft, S. Brönnimann, M. Brunet, D. Camuffo, R. Cornes, T. A. Cram, F. Domínguez-Castro, J. E. Freeman, J. Gergis, E. Hawkins, P. D. Jones, H. Kubota, T. C. Lee, A. M. Lorrey, J. Luterbacher, C. J. Mock, R. K. Przybylak, C. Pudmenzky, V. C. Slonosky, B. Tinz, B. Trewin, X. L. Wang, C. Wilkinson, K. Wood, and P. Wyszyński


The performance of a new historical reanalysis, the NOAA–CIRES–DOE Twentieth Century Reanalysis version 3 (20CRv3), is evaluated via comparisons with other reanalyses and independent observations. This dataset provides global, 3-hourly estimates of the atmosphere from 1806 to 2015 by assimilating only surface pressure observations and prescribing sea surface temperature, sea ice concentration, and radiative forcings. Comparisons with independent observations, other reanalyses, and satellite products suggest that 20CRv3 can reliably produce atmospheric estimates on scales ranging from weather events to long-term climatic trends. Not only does 20CRv3 recreate a “best estimate” of the weather, including extreme events, it also provides an estimate of its confidence through the use of an ensemble. Surface pressure statistics suggest that these confidence estimates are reliable. Comparisons with independent upper-air observations in the Northern Hemisphere demonstrate that 20CRv3 has skill throughout the twentieth century. Upper-air fields from 20CRv3 in the late twentieth century and early twenty-first century correlate well with full-input reanalyses, and the correlation is predicted by the confidence fields from 20CRv3. The skill of analyzed 500-hPa geopotential heights from 20CRv3 for 1979–2015 is comparable to that of modern operational 3–4-day forecasts. Finally, 20CRv3 performs well on climate time scales. Long time series and multidecadal averages of mass, circulation, and precipitation fields agree well with modern reanalyses and station- and satellite-based products. 20CRv3 is also able to capture trends in tropospheric-layer temperatures that correlate well with independent products in the twentieth century, placing recent trends in a longer historical context.

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