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

The first barometers in the Americas were provided by the Royal Society of London in 1677 to correspondents in the Caribbean Island of Barbados. Colonel William Sharpe of Barbados was the first person in the Americas to make daily observations of the weather using a meteorological instrument (other than a wind vane) and made the first known measurements of barometric pressure within the circulation of a hurricane on 12 August 1680. His record provides new insight into the early history of the barometer and early perceptions of tropical weather, vindicates the hypothesis that the barometer would prove useful in detecting hurricanes, and contributes to Edmund Halley's understanding of the empirical distinctions between the Tropics and temperate zones. Sharpe's name and contributions, previously unknown to the meteorological community, can now be properly recognized.

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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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