The 1969 Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 1, 1969, and lasted until November 30, 1969. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. The season was among the most active on record, with 18 tropical cyclones, 12 of which reached hurricane status. Despite the high activity, most of the storms either stayed at sea or made landfall with minimal strength.
Other notable storms include Hurricane Francelia, which caused serious flooding in Belize that killed 100; Hurricane Inga, which lasted almost 25 days and was at the time the second longest-lasting hurricane; and Hurricane Martha, which caused flooding and landslides in Costa Rica and Panama.
The 1969 season once held the record for the most hurricanes (12 in all) to form than in any other year in the Atlantic basin. This record was broken in the 2005 season by Hurricane Wilma, with a season total of 15 hurricanes. Meteorologists were just beginning to understand the traits of tropical and subtropical storms; as a result, a large number of the eighteen cyclones that formed in 1969 went unnamed. In addition, many of the storms were dubbed hurricanes after the fact.
Tropical Depression Seven developed near the Yucatan Peninsula on June 7. It moved north, reaching western Cuba by the following day. As the depression moved towards Florida, small-craft warnings were issued for the southern coast. The depression made landfall in Florida on June 9 and dissipated shortly thereafter. As a result of 2 to 3 inches (51 to 76 mm) rain in Cuba, Radio Havana warned of a flash flood and later reported that three rivers were overflowing in Camagüey. Flooding also forced 1,801 people from their homes. Sustained winds of 15 to 25 mph (24 to 40 km/h) and gusts up to 40 mph (64 km/h). Impact from the depression in Florida is unknown.
Damage was catastrophic in Jamaica with landslides, flooding, broken communication lines, cancellation of its railway service and evacuation of hundreds of people from their homes. The Jamaica Railway Corporation's trains were disrupted by landslides blocking the tracks from Spanish Town to Port Antonio and floodwaters inundating a bridge in Gregory Park. A train bound for Kingston was disrupted by the flooded bridge, as was a diesel tram, isolating both trains at Richmond. Furthermore, the former train did not reach its destination due to landslides. The Jamaica Telephone Company reported troubles due to waterlogged telephone lines. Schools and colleges in Kingston suspended classes and motorists in the area had difficulty traveling due to flooded roads. Correspondents from The Gleaner reported heavy rains, which inundated roads, washed away livestock and destroyed crops. On June 9, the Church Welfare Organization of the West Indies Junior Seventh Day Adventists set out food, money and blankets the victims.
In late July, a tropical wave emerged into the Atlantic from the west coast of Africa. By 0600 UTC on July 25, the system developed into Tropical Depression Twelve. Initially, the depression strengthened slowly while moving west-northwestward. Eventually, it was upgraded to Tropical Storm Anna on July 27. Intensification continued during the next 66 hours. On July 29, Anna peaked with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (110 km/h) and a minimum barometric pressure of 1,002 mbar (29.6 inHg)
. Thereafter, the storm began to weaken and moved in a more northwesterly direction. Late on July 31, Anna was downgraded to a tropical depression, while situated north of the Lesser Antilles.
Anna briefly re-strengthened into a tropical storm late on August 1. The storm re-curved northeastward on July 2 and remained offshore of the East Coast of the United States. Ana once again reached tropical storm status by early on July 3. Further intensification occurred, with the storm reaching winds of 65 mph (100 km/h) later that day. However, Anna transitioned into an extratropical cyclone after merging with an extratropical low pressure area at 0000 UTC on August 4, while centered near Sable Island. The remnants continued rapidly east-northeastward across the Atlantic until becoming unidentifiable on August 5.
A tropical wave was initially tracked about 1,300 miles (2,100 km) east of the Lesser Antilles and may have crossed Dakar, Senegal on August 3. The system curved west-northward on August 6 and eventually moved around the western periphery of the Bermuda high. Late on August 10, a circulation developed and by 0000 UTC on August 11, the system became a tropical depression while located about 530 miles (850 km) east of Wabasso Beach, Florida. Under the influence of a trough, it headed rapidly north to north-northeastward. After ships reported winds up to 46 mph (74 km/h), the depression was upgraded to Tropical Storm Blanche later on August 11.
Significant intensification then occurred, and later that day, Navy reconnaissance reports indicated that Blanche reached hurricane intensity. After winds peaked at 85 mph (140 km/h), the strong southwesterly current which Blanche was embedded in caused the storm to accelerate northeastward. On August 12, the storm began losing tropical characteristics near Sable Island; namely, the wind field was becoming asymmetrical. At Sable Island, a weather station reported sustained winds of 51 mph (82 km/h) and gusts up to 69 mph (111 km/h). While passing to the south of Newfoundland, Blanche was absorbed by a a frontal zone at 0000 UTC on August 13.
Hurricane Camille began its life on August 14 near Grand Cayman. It hit western Cuba as a 115 mph (185 km/h) hurricane, and after weakening to a 100 mph (160 km/h) hurricane it again strengthened rapidly in the Gulf of Mexico, this time to a 190 mph (310 km/h) Category 5 hurricane. It hit Bay St. Louis, Mississippi on August 17, and weakened rapidly over land. The depression brought torrential rain over the Ohio Valley. It moved out to sea, strengthening to a tropical storm before dissipating on August 22. Hurricane Camille was one of three category 5 hurricanes to strike the U.S. (the other two being the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane, and Hurricane Andrew of 1992.)
A westward-moving tropical wave became a tropical depression on August 14, midway between the Lesser Antilles and the coast of Africa. It reached tropical storm strength the next day, and hurricane strength a day later. Hurricane Debbie passed to the north of the islands, but did manage to become a Category 3 hurricane on August 18. Over the next three days, silver iodide was used in a seeding experiment to weaken the hurricane. While Hurricane Debbie's intensity fluctuated greatly over those days, it is not confirmed whether the rapid weakening is due to the seeding or due to other forces. Regardless, Debbie raced to the north after its peak of 120 mph (190 km/h). It passed southeast of Newfoundland on August 24, and lost its low level circulation on August 25 near Greenland.
In the wake of Hurricane Camille, a quasi-stationary front moved across the Southern United States and became situated over North Florida. A cut-off low pressure area developed along the system and acquired a low-level circulation. By 0000 UTC on August 25, the system was classified as a tropical depression while located about 100 miles (160 km) east of Jacksonville, Florida. Due to cold air in the region, the depression strengthened slowly while tracking nearly due east. Late on August 25, it was upgraded to Tropical Storm Eve. After becoming a tropical storm, the National Hurricane Center noted although conditions would prevent rapid deepening, further intensification was possible.
The storm was seen as a threat to the Mid-Atlantic states and Bermuda, but remained offshore and caused no impacts in either region. Eve strengthened slightly on August 26, reaching maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (95 km/h). Although the storm weakened later that day, Eve reached its minimum barometric pressure of 996 mbar (29.4 inHg)
. Early on August 2, Eve was downgraded to a tropical depression. It began to succumb to the effects of cold air, which entrained the circulation of the storm. At 0000 UTC on August 28, Eve degenerated into a trough of low pressure while located about 70 miles (110 km) west-northwest of Bermuda.
Hurricane Francelia began its life on August 29 from a tropical wave over the southern Lesser Antilles. It moved through the Caribbean, and ultimately hit Belize as a Category 2 hurricane. It rapidly dissipated over Central America, causing around 100 deaths.
A westward moving tropical wave organized enough on September 6 over the Bahamas to become a tropical depression. After two days of moving through Florida and moving back offshore, the depression began to strengthen, reaching tropical storm intensity on September 8. Gerda rapidly intensified as well as moving rapidly northeastward, reaching hurricane strength that night and its peak of 130 mph (210 km/h) the following day east of New Jersey. On September 10, it made landfall near Eastport, Maine, but caused little damage and no deaths, and became extratropical over Labrador later that day.
A tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa on September 8. Moving westward to west-northwestward, it is estimated it became a tropical depression on September 14 about 1250 mi (2315 km) southeast of Puerto Rico, based on Hurricane Hunter observations of an organized circulation. It quickly organized and was soon upgraded to Tropical Storm Holly. Continuing northwestward, it steadily intensified, and the Hurricane Hunters reported that Holly attained hurricane status on September 16, with peak winds of 85 mph (140 km/h). Initially, it was not expected to threaten land. Hurricane Holly weakened slightly as it turned westward toward the Lesser Antilles. Due to the lack of good upper-level outflow, as well as unfavorable water, Holly quickly weakened to tropical storm status on September 18, as confirmed by the Hurricane Hunters. By the next day, it weakened to tropical depression status, and it later moved through the Lesser Antilles. There were no reports of damage or deaths, and Holly dissipated on September 21 in the Caribbean Sea.
A low-level center formed off of the western coast of Cuba on September 19. The depression made landfall on September 21 between Panama City, Florida and Port St. Joe. A high-pressure ridge blocked the system's movement, moving it to the east. By September 23, the low pressure system became a low pressure trough. Upper-level wind shear moved the circulation to the east-northeast and moved into the Atlantic Ocean the next day.
Rainfall peaked at 23.4 in (590 mm) in Havana, Florida, with up to 15 in (380 mm) throughout the rest of the state. Both Alabama and Georgia reported peak rains of 7 in (180 mm). Tennessee, the Carolinas and Virginia all reported peak rains of up to 3 in (76 mm).
The tropical depression that became Hurricane Inga formed on September 20, east of the Lesser Antilles. It reached tropical storm strength the next day, but unfavorable conditions weakened Inga to a tropical depression. Those conditions would persist throughout its life. On September 28, it restrengthened to a tropical storm, and Inga became a hurricane two days later. It executed a small loop south of Bermuda, and as it headed northeastward, it reached Category 3 strength. The adverse conditions it found earlier weakened it, and a cold low to the east forced Inga southward. Inga would last until October 15, wandering aimlessly around the central Atlantic. Inga lasted for 25 days, making it the third longest-lasting tropical cyclone on record.
A subtropical depression formed off the coast of North Carolina on September 21. It reached subtropical storm strength that night, and over the next couple of days, it reached hurricane strength while moving to the northeast. "Ten" dissipated on September 26, 200 mi (320 km) south of Newfoundland.
Tropical Storm Eleven developed from a subtropical depression southwest of the Azores on September 24. After a day of drifting west-southwest, it moved westward where it became a subtropical storm, and later a tropical storm. "Eleven" reached its 70 mph (110 km/h) peak on September 27 while moving northward. It retained that intensity for two days, but on September 29, it dissipated due to cool air and shear east of Newfoundland.
A cutoff low in the upper troposphere led to widespread showers and convection over the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, forming three weather systems. The second formed a subtropical depression on September 29, which was known in real-time as Tropical Depression Thirty-two. The tropical depression was reclassified as a Subtropical cyclone, with its strongest winds away from the center and the convection not very well organized. Unfavorable conditions did not allow the system to become tropical, but it was able to become a 60 mph (97 km/h) subtropical storm before cool air and shear weakened it to a subtropical depression prior to its Florida Panhandle landfall on October 1. The depression moved through the Southeast into the Ohio Valley. The system dissipated as it crossed the Great Lakes into southeast Canada.
Tropical Storm Jenny formed from the same cutoff low that formed Subtropical Storm One. Jenny began as a tropical depression in the northwest Caribbean Sea, and after moving across Cuba, became a tropical storm just before its landfall between Fort Myers and Naples, Florida on October 2, bringing heavy rains. Jenny made it to the western Atlantic as a tropical depression, but increased ridging forced the storm over the already soaked Florida peninsula. It was unable to strengthen further, and Jenny dissipated on October 6 south of Louisiana.
A cold core trough of low pressure over the western Atlantic Ocean warmed on the eastern end, becoming a tropical depression on October 7. The trough brought it northeastward, strengthening it to a tropical storm on October 9. An upper level low formed to Kara's west, and when the two merged on October 11, their motions became erratic. At this time it was not very tropical, but as it moved southward towards warm waters, it became more tropical, and became a hurricane on the October 15. Upper level westerlies forced it northeastward, and after reaching a peak of 105 mph (165 km/h), Kara became extratropical on October 19.
A mid level circulation developed near the Swan Islands on October 15 from a westward-moving system, and on October 17, a tropical depression was able to form in the western Caribbean Sea. The depression moved northwestward where favorable conditions allowed strengthening, but because the depression was not vertically stacked, it remained a depression. On October 19, after passing the Yucatán Peninsula, the depression was named Tropical Storm Laurie, and the next day, Hurricane Laurie. Hurricane watches were issued for a large portion of the Gulf coast, but when Laurie turned eastward and southeastward, they were dropped. Dry air entrained the system as the storm looped around, causing it to weaken to a tropical depression on October 24. Laurie eventually made landfall on Mexico on October 27 as a weak depression, and dissipated that day.
A subtropical depression formed west-southwest of the Azores on October 28. It moved northwestward, reaching tropical storm strength on October 29, and after turning sharply east it reached its peak of 70 mph (110 km/h) winds. "Sixteen" became extratropical on October 31 west of the Azores.
A large extratropical storm over the North Atlantic formed a subtropical storm on October 31 south of Newfoundland. It moved southeast, gaining tropical characteristics and strength on the way. It reached hurricane strength on November 4, peaking as a minimal Category 1 storm while approaching the Azores, but weakened prior to passing through the islands. "Seventeen" lost its tropical characteristics on November 7.
A cyclonic circulation persisted over the southwest Caribbean Sea in late November. Convection became more organized, and by November 21, it became a tropical storm. Martha quickly intensified, reaching 90 mph (140 km/h) winds the next day, but the hurricane lost strength as it drifted southward. It reached the coast of Panama as a 70 mph (110 km/h) tropical storm on November 24, becoming the first tropical storm on record to hit the country. Martha dissipated over Panama on November 25. The system caused heavy flooding and landslides over San José, Costa Rica, where five fatalities and $30 million (1969 USD, $190 million 2018 USD) in damage occurred.
Although the 'M' name has been used nearly every year to name storms in the Atlantic since 1990, this marked only the second time since naming began in 1950 that the 'M' name was used (and the first to be properly classified), and the last one until Marco in the 1990 season.
The first season to use 'M' was 1950 when Tropical Storm Mike was named, but the system was likely not tropical, since it was not included in the Best Track for the Atlantic basin.
In addition to the 20 other tropical cyclones of the season, there were three minor tropical depressions. The first tropical depression (numbered five), developed on May 29 about 85 mi (137 km) southeast of Cutler Bay, Florida. The depression tracked northeastward, and passed through the Bahamas on the Abaco Islands later that day. After crossing the Bahamas, the depression continued northeastward, and eventually dissipated 430 mi (690 km) southwest of Bermuda on May 30. No impact was reported in the Bahamas. Also on May 29, Tropical Depression Six developed while centered 38 mi (61 km) south-southwest of San Andrés Island, Colombia. The depression headed west-northwestward toward the coast of Nicaragua, however, it quickly veered away to the northeast. For the rest of its duration, the depression mainly headed north or north-northeastward across the Caribbean Sea. On June 1, the day that the 1969 Atlantic hurricane season officially began, Tropical Depression Six made landfall on the Zapata Peninsula in Cuba. The depression dissipated early on June 2. No impact was reported in Cuba or Nicaragua.
Between June 7 and June 9, the notable Tropical Depression Seven existed. At 0000 UTC on June 12, Tropical Depression Eight formed about 55 miles (89 km) east of Cozumel, Quintana Roo. It moved west-northwestward without strengthening and made landfall between Playa del Carmen and Puerto Morelos, Quitana Roo, later that day with winds of 30 mph (45 km/h). The depression moved slowly across the Yucatán Peninsula until emerging into the Gulf of Mexico along the north coast of Yucatán on June 14. No intensification occurred in the Gulf of Mexico occurred, and by 0000 UTC on June 15, the depression dissipated while located about 50 miles (80 km) north-northeast of Progreso, Yucatán. A tropical wave situated about 400 miles (640 km) east of Trinidad developed into Tropical Depression Thirteen on July 25. The depression moved northwestward toward the Lesser Antilles and later that day crossed Barbados with winds of 35 mph (55 km/h). It continued to the northwest and may have struck Martinique on June 26. At 0000 UTC on the following day, the depression dissipated about 30 miles (48 km) west-southwest of Basseterre, Guadeloupe.
The following names were used for named storms that formed in the Atlantic basin in 1969. Storms were named Blanche, Camille, Eve, Francelia, Holly, Kara, Laurie and Martha for the first time in 1969. Names that were not assigned are marked in gray
↑National Hurricane Center (January 8, 2013). Atlantic hurricane best track (Hurdat) (dat). United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. Retrieved on January 12, 2013.