Eclipse forecast looking better! And remembering Hurricane Camille.

As we inch closer and closer to Monday, the weather is looking better with each new model run. We still can’t quit hoping and praying for a clear view, but it looks a heck of a lot more promising today than it did a week ago. Highs Monday should be in the mid 80s and we should be partly cloudy. In other words, it should be  a typical summer day. That’s how it looks right now, and I honestly don’t foresee any major changes with that forecast. I will continue to update you all right up until the eclipse. We’ll definitely have to check the satellite Monday morning. I’ll keep you posted!

For today, we can expect more scattered showers and storms. The bulk of the activity should hold off until this afternoon and evening, but anything can happen at any time with this air mass in place. We have a front coming through later this evening and tonight that will increase the chance of rain. That front will also bring lower rain chances for Friday. Saturday and Sunday look hot but dry. I haven’t been able to forecast that kind of weather in a while!

Today is a somber day for many who live along the Mississippi coastline. On the evening of August 17, 1969 one of the most powerful hurricanes in history came on shore the Mississippi Coast. That coast would never be the same again. Wind gusts to 190 mph were recorded at Bay Saint Louis, MS. Many wind gauges (anemometers) broke after maxing out at 200 mph winds.  We’ll never know what the actual maximum sustained winds were because all wind gauges were destroyed at and near the landfall area.  For perspective, an EF-5 tornado has winds in access of 200 mph. Hurricane Camille claimed 256 lives and 1.3 billions dollars in damage. Ships were carried up to seven miles inland, riding on a 25-foot storm surge. The Mississippi coast was completely destroyed. It would take Biloxi 25 years to recover.  This hurricane would have ended New Orleans had it struck them like it did Biloxi. Camille is one of only three cat 5 hurricanes to ever make landfall in the US (South Florida’s Andrew in 1992 and the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane in the Florida Keys are the other two).  Farther inland, the pecan orchards of southern Mississippi were completely destroyed. Approximately 20,000 acres of corn were flattened. Agricultural damages to Mississippi, a very agricultural state, were phenomenal.

The area of Bay Saint Louis, where the hurricane made landfall, was once a beautiful, wealthy community along the coast, with gorgeous southern mansions facing an even more beautiful Gulf Coast. Some considered it the “Paris of the South” and folks from as far away as London would visit. Forty-eight years ago this evening, one storm took it all away. One survivor recalls her mother standing at the door and watching the waves of the Gulf get higher and closer.  They had never seen a storm like this one.  Their mother turned to the kids and said, “The world is ending.”

Once the hurricane moved inland, it weakened significantly, as tropical systems do.  The storm had already passed through Mississippi and west TN before moving east across Kentucky. Few paid much attention to what was left of the storm as it traversed across Kentucky. As the remnants of the storm were forced to rise over the mountains of West Virginia, they were met by a weak cold front. The combination of the two led to devastating flash floods in the mountains. Whole communities vanished under mudslides. At least 153 lost their lives, with 123 in one county alone! To this day, it is the worst natural disaster to have ever occurred in the state.  One location recorded 5 inches of rain in 30 minutes!

As we keep our eyes on the tropics every year, many of us are reminded of how big of a deal these tropical forecasts are to folks. Today, we have incredible satellites and technology we couldn’t have dreamed of having in 1969. Still, we know all these things only tell us what’s coming. How people prepare and react is something not even the best technology can predict. We found that out with Katrina. The anniversary of that historic storm is coming in only ten days.

I’m watching several disturbances now in the southern Atlantic. All of them need to be watched. I’ll keep you posted! None of them appear to be a threat for at least another week.

And I’ll keep an eye on that eclipse forecast, too!

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