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Hurricane Kate (1985)

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Hurricane Kate Spanish: Huracán Kate pronounced:  was the final in a series of tropical cyclones to impact the United States during 1985, and the latest in any calendar year to strike the country at hurricane intensity on record The eleventh named storm, seventh hurricane, and third major hurricane of the annual hurricane season, Kate originated from the interaction of an upper-level trough and tropical wave northeast of Puerto Rico on November 15 Though the system tracked erratically during the first hours of its existence, the intensification of a region of high pressure to the cyclone's north caused Kate to turn westward A favorable atmospheric pattern allowed the newly developed system to intensify to hurricane intensity on November 16, and further to Category 2 intensity three days later Kate made its first landfall on the northern coast of Cuba at this intensity prior to emerging as a slightly weaker storm during the evening hours of November 19 Once clear of land, it began to strengthen quickly, becoming a Category 3 and reaching its peak intensity of 120 mph 195 km/h the following day On November 21, a cold front moving across the Mississippi Valley resulted in a north and eventual northeast turn of the cyclone, and Kate came ashore near Mexico Beach, Florida, as a minimal Category 2 hurricane with winds of 100 mph 160 km/h Gradual weakening ensued as the cyclone moved along the Southeast United States coastline, and Kate transitioned to an extratropical cyclone on November 23, a day after exiting the coastline of North Carolina

The threat of Hurricane Kate in Cuba prompted the evacuation of 360,000 people Heavy rainfall in Cuba caused numerous mudslides and flooding, killing 10 people and leading to severe agriculture damage Wind gusts over hurricane intensity resulted in widespread power outages, significant building damage, and major crop damage Damage totaled roughly $400 million, making it the most damaging hurricane to strike the island in many decades In preparation for the system's arrival, many hurricane watches and warnings were put into effect Hundreds of thousands of residents were evacuated, and Florida governor Bob Graham declared a state of emergency for six counties; this was later cancelled following the relatively minor impacts of Kate In addition, many shelters were opened When Kate struck the Florida Panhandle, it became the first hurricane to make landfall in that location since Hurricane Eloise in 1975 Storm surge and flooding rains destroyed much of the oyster industry, causing many people to lose their jobs in the weeks after the storm Gusts over 100 mph 160 km/h contributed to downed trees and building damage, while the combination of wind and rain led to downed power poles Across the remainder of the southeast United States, several inches of rainfall led to flash flooding, damage to roadways, and major tree damage Overall, Kate resulted in 15 fatalities and $700 million in damage


  • 1 Meteorological history
  • 2 Preparations
  • 3 Impact
    • 31 Caribbean and Turks and Caicos Islands
    • 32 Florida
    • 33 Elsewhere
  • 4 Aftermath
  • 5 See also
  • 6 Notes
  • 7 References

Meteorological history

Map plotting the track and intensity of the storm according to the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale

Before the formation of Hurricane Kate, a ridge was located across the southeastern United States for much of the autumn of 1985; concurrently, a major trough persisted across the western portion of the country As a result, weather conditions across the Gulf of Mexico and western Atlantic Ocean in November were more typical of the pattern in late September, including sea surface temperatures of 81 °F 27 °C On November 13, a weak tropical wave began interacting with a trough to the northeast of the Lesser Antilles It gradually organized due to the favorable conditions, and on November 15, a Hurricane Hunters flight into the area indicated the development of a tropical cyclone As gale force winds were already present, the system was immediately declared Tropical Storm Kate, about 240 miles 385 km northeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico

With a ridge to its north, Kate tracked westward after developing, and an upper-level low developed to the southwest of the storm The combination of the two provided favorable outflow, allowing Kate to quickly intensify On November 16, the storm attained hurricane status while moving through the southeastern Bahamas After continued strengthening, Kate made landfall at 0600 UTC on November 19 over north-central Cuba with a well-defined eye When it moved ashore, Kate had a pressure of 967 mbar 286 inHg and winds of about 110 mph 180 km/h The hurricane maintained its well-defined eye while moving across northern Cuba, and about 12 hours after making landfall, it emerged into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico just east of Havana Over the next 24 hours, Kate re-intensified off the southwest coast of Florida as it passed about 85 mi 135 km southwest of Key West On November 20, the Hurricane Hunters observed winds as strong as 125 mph 200 km/h, and a buoy recorded a gust of 136 mph 219 km/h; this was the highest recorded wind gust from a buoy in the Gulf of Mexico until Hurricane Lili in 2002 Based on these observations, it was estimated that Kate attained peak winds of about 120 mph 190 km/h around 1200 UTC on November 20

Hurricane Kate maintained peak intensity for about 18 hours On November 21, a cold front moving through the Mississippi Valley deflected the hurricane to the north and northeast The combination of cooler waters and wind shear from the front weakened Kate to an intensity of 100 mph 160 km/h by the time the hurricane struck Crooked Island near Mexico Beach, Florida late on November 21 After landfall, Kate continued to the northeast, crossing into Georgia and weakened into a tropical storm Kate emerged from North Carolina into the Atlantic Ocean late on November 22 Encountering even colder waters and continued shear, the storm weakened further while turning to the east-southeast On November 23, Kate transitioned into an extratropical cyclone to the west of Bermuda, terminating at 1800 UTC that day

Until 2011, Kate's was considered the second-latest hurricane landfall in the United States, behind only a cyclone in 1925 that struck on December 1; however, a systematic reanalysis indicated that the 1925 system was only a tropical storm In turn, Kate took the record With Kate's landfall, the 1985 season had six hurricanes that struck the United States, only one short of the record seven in 1886


By November 18, a hurricane warning was in effect for the southeast and central Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands Flood warnings were issued for northern Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic In preparation for the hurricane's arrival, officials forced 360,000 people to evacuate in north-central Cuba

While Kate was moving through the Bahamas, the National Hurricane Center NHC issued a hurricane warning from Jupiter to Fort Myers, Florida, including the Florida Keys Then-Governor of Florida Bob Graham declared a state of emergency for six counties in South Florida However, it was reversed following the relatively minor effects there Officials recommended evacuation of the Florida Keys, leading to heavy traffic on the Overseas Highway and prompting the Red Cross to open 12 shelters Three shelters were opened in Key West, but only 500 individuals utilized them during the storm Most residents chose to endure the storm in their homes In Fort Lauderdale, schools were closed and residents of mobile homes were required to leave

Shortly after the storm reached its peak intensity on November 20, the NHC issued a hurricane watch from Grand Isle, Louisiana, to Cedar Key, Florida Later that day, a portion of the watch area was upgraded to a warning from Bay St Louis, Mississippi to St Marks, Florida About 20,000 employees on oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico were evacuated, many by helicopter The USS Lexington left port from Naval Air Station Pensacola to ride out the storm in open waters, and aircraft in the region were flown inland About 100,000 people along the Florida Panhandle were told to leave their houses after Governor Bob Graham issued evacuation orders in 13 counties About 2,000 people stayed in 34 shelters in Panama City Roads in the region suffered traffic jams from the large volume of evacuees Portions of the Florida Gulf Coast had been threatened by Hurricane Elena earlier in the season, and some evacuees of that storm intended not to leave during Kate due to the poor shelter conditions that they had experienced Governor Graham activated 300 members of the Florida National Guard to prevent looting and to assist in evacuations One person died from a stress-induced heart attack in Chipley after evacuating Outside of Florida, about 2,200 people fled Grand Isle, Louisiana

After Kate moved ashore, the NHC issued gale warnings along the East Coast of the United States from St Augustine, Florida to Chincoteague, Virginia


Caribbean and Turks and Caicos Islands

Early in its duration, Hurricane Kate sank one boat near Puerto Rico and disabled three others The crew of five on the sunken boat were rescued after 17 hours Several homes in northern Puerto Rico were damaged, forcing hundreds to evacuate Flooding was also reported in the Dominican Republic, including around the capital Santo Domingo

Heavy rainfall and winds up to 60 mph 97 km/h were reported in the Turks and Caicos Islands In Jamaica, heavy precipitation caused mudslides, which in turn blocked 23 major and minor roads and destroyed many bridges, culverts, and drains Flooding in general caused severe damage to agriculture, especially in Clarendon, Manchester, Saint Ann, Saint Elizabeth, and Trelawny Parishes Seven fatalities were reported, while the cost to repair damage was approximately $3 million 1985 USD

As Kate moved across northern Cuba, it produced strong winds that peaked at 75 mph 120 km/h in Sagua La Grande Wind gusts peaked at 104 mph 167 km/h in Varadero, and winds in the capital of Havana reached 70 mph 110 km/h In Havana, high winds caused power outages and destroyed buildings Waves of 9 feet 27 m affected the city's waterfront Outside of Havana, the hurricane damaged sugar mills and much of the sugar cane crop; throughout the island, the winds destroyed 3,653 miles2 9461 km2 of sugar cane and 34,000 tonnes 37,000 tons of sugar The storm also destroyed 141,000 tonnes 139,000 long tons; 155,000 short tons of bananas and 87,078 tonnes 85,703 long tons; 95,987 short tons of other fruits and vegetables Across the island, Kate damaged 88,207 houses and destroyed 4,382 others, affecting 476,891 people Many public buildings, including schools, were damaged Throughout the country, Kate killed 10 people and injured about 50 people Damage was estimated at $400 million, which was the highest total from all landfalling hurricanes from 1903 to 1998, unadjusted for inflation


Damage after Hurricane Kate in Tallahassee

As Kate passed to the southwest of Key West, the storm produced winds of 47 mph 76 km/h there, with unofficial wind gusts of 104 mph 167 km/h Rainfall totals in southwest Florida were generally around 1 in 25 mm, although Key West reported 208 in 53 mm of precipitation High winds downed trees and power lines, leaving areas between Key West and Big Pine Key without power Electrical outages contributed to a mobile home being destroyed by fire, and one person died through electrocution Above-normal tides caused minor flooding and erosion along the Florida Keys Two people died after their boat capsized in the lower Keys

Kate was the first hurricane to make landfall in the Florida Panhandle since Hurricane Eloise in 1975 In the region, the hurricane dropped heavy rainfall along its path, peaking at 832 in 211 mm in Panama City While moving ashore, Kate produced an 11 feet 34 m storm surge at Cape San Blas, causing beach and dune erosion in Gulf County Storm surge flooding left 150 houses uninhabitable in Wakulla County The hurricane damaged a bridge to St George Island that had been rebuilt after Hurricane Elena, and large portions of US Routes 90 and 98 were washed out or damaged Just two months after Elena ravaged the Apalachicola Bay shellfish harvesting industry, Hurricane Kate destroyed remaining oyster beds, leaving many oystermen in the area without jobs

Strong winds buffeted the Florida Panhandle, accompanied by one tornado and several funnel clouds In Panama City, wind gusts reached 78 mph 126 km/h, damaging two houses, a motel, and a fishing pier The winds were strong enough to remove the roof of a two-story federal building Sustained winds blew 74 mph 119 km/h at Cape San Blas, with gusts up to 108 mph 174 km/h Across the area, Kate severely damaged 242 buildings, mostly in Franklin County, where the storm ranked as the most devastating of the late 20th century The storm compromised about 54 mi 87 km of roads in the county, and throughout the region many roads were washed out The intense winds brought down numerous trees, some of them onto adjacent structures One fallen tree struck a car, killing one person and injuring another The winds also downed power poles and lines About 90 percent of Florida's capital Tallahassee, or about 80,000 people, lost power, and along the coast from Panama City to Apalachicola, the storm left about 30,000 homes and businesses without electricity Overall, the hurricane destroyed 325 homes along the panhandle, and about 500 buildings were severely damaged


Rainfall map of Kate in the United States

Light rainfall of around 1 in 25 mm from the hurricane extended into southeastern Alabama Rainfall was much heavier in Georgia, peaking at 773 in 196 mm in Bainbridge Portions of southwestern Georgia experienced heavy damage from flash flooding and winds, and several secondary roads were washed out Gusts of 80 mph 130 km/h downed thousands of trees, and one fallen tree killed a man west of Thomasville The cotton, soybean, and pecan crops suffered heavy losses, estimated at around $50 million Property and utility damage was also assessed at $50 million, and damage from flash flooding was estimated at $1 million There were scattered power outages in southern Georgia, affecting fewer than 3,000 customers by Georgia Power Company's estimation While moving across southeastern Georgia, Kate produced a 62 mph 100 km/h wind gust in Savannah The city also reported 173 in 44 mm of rainfall

Farther northeast, Charleston, South Carolina reported a wind gust of 50 mph 80 km/h The highest rainfall total in the state was 656 in 167 mm in Hampton The rains caused flash flooding that washed out secondary roads and a bridge The storm knocked tree limbs onto power lines, leaving about 48,000 people without power In Beaufort, trees fell onto four cars and a mobile home, and high waves sank a boat In Wilmington, North Carolina, the storm dropped 199 in 51 mm of precipitation Rains across the state caused generally minor flooding, although several cars were swept off roadways Rising floodwaters prompted the evacuation of a nursing home in Kannapolis Rainfall extended northward into Virginia Damage throughout the United States was estimated at $300 million

As an extratropical cyclone, Kate moved north of Bermuda and produced wind gusts of 26 mph 42 km/h on the island


In the month after Hurricane Kate struck the island, the government of Cuba issued a request to the United Nations UN World Food Council for international assistance In response, various UN member nations collectively provided $60,000 for pesticides; $250,000 for herbicides, fungicides, and potato seeds; and $1381 million in cooking oils and beans to fulfill the dietary needs of over 475,000 people for 60 days The Soviet Union also donated about $15 million worth of rice and wheat flour

Hurricane Kate delayed a runoff mayoral election in Key West by two weeks Shortly after the storm, the police departments of both Leon and Jackson Counties ordered a nightly curfew Two disaster relief centers were opened in Franklin County, one in Apalachicola and the other in Eastpoint On December 3, 1985, President of the United States Ronald Reagan declared seven Florida counties as disaster areas, making them eligible to receive federal aid

Due to the widespread power outages along the Florida Panhandle, electrical companies enlisted extra workers to repair downed lines Officials had put a curfew in place for Tallahassee due to power outages created by the hurricane, and the curfew was lifted on November 24 after power was gradually restored and roads were cleared of debris Police officers in the city arrested 20 people for violating curfew or creating unrest

Some sections of coastline already suffering from severe erosion lost additional swaths of beach to a 10-foot 3 m storm surge and strong waves Many fishermen before and after the storm encountered diminished fish catches after the hurricane

See also

  • Tropical cyclones portal
  • List of North Carolina hurricanes 1980–1999
  • List of Florida hurricanes 1975–1999
  • Other storms of the same name


  1. ^ A major hurricane is a storm that ranks as Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale
  2. ^ All damage totals are in 1985 United States dollars
  3. ^ A tropical wave is an inverted trough of low pressure that moves along the trade winds


  1. ^ a b Glossary of NHC Terms Report National Hurricane Center 2012-03-30 Retrieved 2012-05-01 
  2. ^ a b Robert A Case 1985-12-10 Hurricane Kate Preliminary Report GIF Report National Hurricane Center p 1 Retrieved 2012-05-09 
  3. ^ a b c d e Robert A Case 1985-12-10 Hurricane Kate Preliminary Report GIF Report National Hurricane Center p 2 Retrieved 2012-05-13 
  4. ^ a b c d Atlantic hurricane best track HURDAT version 2 Hurricane Research Division Report National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 2016-07-06 Retrieved 2016-10-28 
  5. ^ Upper Texas Coast Tropical Cyclones in the 2000s Report Houston/Galveston, Texas National Weather Service 2012-02-23 Retrieved 2016-10-28 
  6. ^ a b c d e Robert A Case 1985-12-10 Hurricane Kate Preliminary Report GIF Report National Hurricane Center p 3 Retrieved 2012-05-13 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ralph Clark September 1986 Hurricane Kate November 15-23, 1985 PDF Report Florida Department of Natural Resources Retrieved 2016-10-28 
  8. ^ "New Record Holder for Latest Hurricane in the Season to Strike US Coastline" PDF National Hurricane Center 2011-11-18 Retrieved 2011-11-20 
  9. ^ Eric S Blake; Ethan J Gibney August 2012 The Deadliest, Costliest, and Most Intense United States Tropical Cyclones from 1851 to 2010 and Other Frequently Requested Hurricane Facts PDF Report National Hurricane Center p 17 Retrieved 2012-05-15 
  10. ^ a b "Hurricane Kate threatens Bahamas" Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Associated Press 1985-11-18 Retrieved 2012-06-30 
  11. ^ "Hurricane strengthens over Atlantic" The Deseret News Salt Lake City, Utah United Press International 1985-11-17 Retrieved 2013-08-14 
  12. ^ a b Robert A Case 1985-12-10 Table 1 Watches and Warnings Issued by the National Hurricane Center GIF Report National Hurricane Center Retrieved 2012-05-15 
  13. ^ a b c "Hurricane Kate Threatens to Attack and Flood Florida Keys" Lodi News-Sentinel Lodi, California United Press International 1985-11-18 pp 1, 10 Retrieved 2013-08-18 
  14. ^ a b "Hurricane Kate whirls into the gulf" Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Associated Press 1985-11-20 Retrieved 2012-06-30 
  15. ^ Bill Kaczor 1985-11-21 "Kate Charges Toward Panhandle" Gainesville Sun Associated Press Retrieved 2013-08-27 
  16. ^ "Cooler Air Weakens 'Kate' Near Florida" The Bulletin Bend, Oregon United Press International 1985-11-21 Retrieved 2013-08-21 
  17. ^ a b "Hurricane Stalks Gulf Coast; 87,000 Told to Move Inland" The Vindicator Youngstown, Ohio Associated Press 1985-11-21 Retrieved 2013-08-27 
  18. ^ Judy Garnatz 1985-11-20 "Little Activity Seen in Storm Preparations" The Evening Independent St Petersburg, Florida Retrieved 2013-08-30 
  19. ^ Robert A Case 1985-12-10 Table 1 Watches and Warnings Continued GIF Report National Hurricane Center Retrieved 2012-05-15 
  20. ^ "Florida Braces for Hurricane" The Altus Times Altus, Oklahoma United Press International 1985-11-18 Retrieved 2013-08-15 
  21. ^ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1985-12-12 Jamaica Hurricane Kate Dec 1985 UNDRO Situation Report 1 Report ReliefWeb Retrieved 2012-06-30 
  22. ^ Janet Braustein 1985-11-20 "Kate Spins into Gulf of Mexico" The Lewiston Journal Lewiston-Auburn, Maine Associated Press Retrieved 2013-08-27 
  23. ^ a b UNDRO Situation Reports 1-4 Report ReliefWeb 1985-12-19 Retrieved 2016-10-29 
  24. ^ Roger A Pielke Jr; Jose Rubiera; Christopher Landsea; Mario L Fernández; Roberta Klein August 2003 "Hurricane Vulnerability in Latin America and The Caribbean: Normalized Damage and Loss Potentials" PDF National Hazards Review National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: 108 Retrieved 2012-05-25 
  25. ^ a b c d David M Roth 2007-06-15 "Hurricane Kate - November 19-22, 1985" Weather Prediction Center Retrieved 2012-05-14 
  26. ^ a b c d e f g "Storm Data and Unusual Weather Phenomena" Storm Data National Climatic Data Center 27 11: 16–17, 20, 23 November 1985 ISSN 0039-1972 Archived from the original PDF on 2014-04-21 Retrieved 2012-05-15 
  27. ^ a b c d Clark, Ralph R; LaGrone, James A Comparative Analysis of Hurricane Dennis and Other Recent Hurricanes on the Coastal Communities of Northwest Florida PDF Report Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association Retrieved 2012-05-15 
  28. ^ a b Soneni Bryant Kate Wreaks Havoc on Oyster Industry PDF Report Tallahassee Democrat Retrieved 2016-10-28 
  29. ^ Robert A Case 1985-12-10 Hurricane Kate Preliminary Report GIF Report National Hurricane Center p 4 Retrieved 2012-05-15 
  30. ^ "Hurricane Kate Tears Up Florida" The Leader-Post Regina, Saskatchewan AP 1985-11-22 Retrieved 2013-12-10 
  31. ^ a b "Kate Takes Aim at the Carolinas" The Robesonian Lumberton, North Carolina Associated Press 1985-11-22 Retrieved 2013-12-10 
  32. ^ "Disaster Declaration Sought" Times Daily Florence, Alabama Associated Press 1985-11-28 Retrieved 2013-12-10 
  33. ^ "Graham Says 5 Counties May Qualify for Kate Aid" Ocala Star Banner Ocala, Florida Associated Press 1985-11-26 Retrieved 2013-12-10 
  34. ^ a b Roth, David M; Hydrometeorological Prediction Center "Tropical Cyclone Rainfall in the Southeastern United States" Tropical Cyclone Rainfall Point Maxima United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service Retrieved June 5, 2012 
  35. ^ a b Tropical Cyclone History for Southeast South Carolina and Northern Portions of Southeast Georgia Report Charleston, South Carolina National Weather Service 2016-08-01 Retrieved 2016-10-28 
  36. ^ Robert A Case 1986 "Atlantic Hurricane Season of 1985" PDF Monthly Weather Review American Meteorological Society 114 7: 1390 Bibcode:1986MWRv1141390C doi:101175/1520-04931986114<1390:ahso>20co;2 Retrieved 2013-12-10 
  37. ^ "Key West Elects Banker as Mayor" The New York Times Associated Press 1985-12-05 Retrieved 2013-08-31 
  38. ^ "Residents Without Power; Floods Isolate Some Cities" The Palm Beach Post Associated Press 1985-11-23 Retrieved 2012-06-30 
  39. ^ Florida Hurricane Kate Major Disaster Declared December 3, 1985 DR-756 Report Federal Emergency Management Agency 2004-11-23 Retrieved 2013-12-11 
  40. ^ a b "Kate Dies Out; North Shivers" The Telegraph Dubuque, Iowa United Press International 1985-11-24 Retrieved 2013-12-10 
  41. ^ Mike Cassidy City Gradually Returns to Normal PDF Report Tallahassee Democrat Retrieved 2013-12-10 

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Hurricane Kate (1985)

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