This article is incomplete.(May 2017)
|Category 3 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)|
|Formed||June 25, 1957|
|Dissipated||June 29, 1957|
|Highest winds||1-minute sustained:
|Lowest pressure||946 mbar (hPa); 27.94 inHg|
|Fatalities||At least 416|
|Damage||$147 million (1957 USD)|
|Areas affected||South Central United States, Quebec, Ontario|
|Part of the 1957 Atlantic hurricane season|
Hurricane Audrey in June 1957 was one of the deadliest tropical cyclones to ever strike the United States, claiming more than 400 lives along its path. The first named storm and hurricane of the annual hurricane season, it first formed on June 25, 1957, from a tropical wave which moved into the Bay of Campeche. Situated within favorable conditions for tropical development, Audrey quickly strengthened, reaching hurricane status just a few hours after being classified as a tropical cyclone. Moving generally northwards, it continued to strengthen as it approached the United States Gulf Coast. On June 27, the hurricane reached peak sustained winds of 125 mph (205 km/h), making it a major hurricane.[nb 1] At the time, Audrey had a minimum barometric pressure of 946 mbar (hPa; 27.91 inHg). The hurricane made landfall at the same intensity between the mouth of the Sabine River and Cameron, Louisiana later that day, causing unprecedented destruction across the region. Once inland, Audrey rapidly weakened and turned extratropical over Louisiana on June 28, before fully dissipating on June 29.
Prior to making landfall, Audrey severely disrupted offshore drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico. Damages from offshore oil facilities alone was estimated at $16 million.[nb 2] Audrey caused much of its destruction near the border between Texas and Louisiana upon its first and only landfall. The hurricane's strong winds resulted in widespread property and infrastructural damage. Power outages also resulted from the strong winds. However, as is typical with most landfalling tropical cyclones, most of the destruction at the coast was the result of the hurricane's strong storm surge, which was amplified by Audrey's rapid deepening just prior to landfall. The hurricane's storm surge was reported to have peaked as high as 12 ft (3.7 m), helping to inundate coastal areas. Damage from the surge alone extended 25 mi (40 km) inland. The rough seas killed nine people offshore after capsizing the boat they were in. Further inland in Louisiana, the storm spawned two tornadoes, causing additional damage. The hurricane also dropped heavy rainfall, peaking at 10.63 in (270 mm) near Basile. In Louisiana and Texas, where Audrey first impacted, damages totaled $128 million.
After moving inland and transitioning into an extratropical cyclone, Audrey caused additional damage across the interior United States. The storm produced 23 tornadoes across Mississippi and Alabama, causing $600,000 in losses and killing two people. As it moved towards the northeast, moisture associated with the extratropical remnants of Audrey intersected with a weather front over the Midwest, producing record rainfall that peaked at 10.20 in (259.08 mm) in Paris, Illinois. The resultant flooding resulted in ten fatalities. Elsewhere in the United States, the storm brought strong winds, causing additional damage. Farther north, in Canada, 15 people were killed in Ontario and Quebec. Strong winds and torrential rainfall disrupted transportation services. In Quebec, ten people were killed in the Montreal area, making Audrey the deadliest hurricane to strike the Canadian province in recorded history. The storm was also considered the worst storm to strike Quebec in at least 20 years. In the United States, Audrey killed at least 416 people, the majority of whom were in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, though the final death total may never be known. Damage totaled $147 million in the country, at the time the fifth-costliest hurricane recorded in the US since 1900. The name Audrey was later retired from usage as an identifier for an Atlantic hurricane.
Between June 20 and 25, 1957, an ill-defined tropical wave moved across the Caribbean Sea, over the Yucatán Peninsula, and into the Bay of Campeche. The system was difficult to trace until a report on June 24 from Carmen, Mexico, confirmed the presence of a low pressure area. Later that evening, a shrimp boat in the Bay of Campeche reported sustained winds of 40 to 45 mph (65 to 75 km/h) and a barometric pressure of 1008 mbar (hPa; 29.78 inHg). As the disturbance developed, a large trough extended from a low over the Hudson Bay into the Gulf of Mexico. The "latitudinal superposition" of these systems resulted in the intensification of both. Situated over an area of high sea surface temperatures (approximately 85 °F (29 °C)) and within a region of favorable upper-level divergence, the tropical disturbance rapidly deepened overnight. The system was declared a tropical depression early on June 25 as it became stationary over the southern Gulf of Mexico. An aircraft reconnaissance mission into the storm on June 25 revealed that the system had already intensified into a hurricane, reporting winds of 100 mph (155 km/h). At this time, Audrey was located approximately 380 mi (610 km) southeast of Brownsville, Texas.
After attaining hurricane status, Audrey began to move slowly northward in response troughing in the upper-levels of the atmosphere. Continued reconnaissance missions into the storm revealed a well-developed structure, indicating that the system had become increasingly powerful. Only one observation close to the storm's center was made from this point until its landfall; the tanker Tillamook encountered the hurricane's western eyewall between 0910 and 1025 UTC on June 27. During this time, a pressure of 969 mbar (hPa; 28.62 inHg) was measured. According to the Hurricane Database, Audrey attained winds of 125 mph (205 km/h) shortly after passing this tanker, making it a Category 3 on the modern-day Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale. Around 1430 UTC on June 27, the eye of Audrey made landfall between the mouth of the Sabine River and Cameron, Louisiana. While winds were originally estimated to have been near 145 mph (235 km/h) at the time of landfall, later reanalysis indicated that Audrey maintained its 125 mph (205 km/h) while moving ashore.
After maintaining its eye 60 mi (95 km) inland, Audrey dramatically weakened and transitioned into an extratropical cyclone as it turned northeastward over Louisiana, and reached Tennessee as a 995 mb (hPa; 29.39 inHg) low. At this point, the system interacted with a wave extending from a polar front near Chicago, Illinois and subsequently re-intensified. Curving northward and later northwestward around another extratropical low, the system attained a pressure of 974 mb (hPa; 28.76 inHg) as it moved near Lake Huron. The rapid deepening of Audrey as an extratropical cyclone was stated to be similar to that of Hurricane Hazel in 1954. By this point, the system was again producing hurricane-force winds, with Jamestown, New York reporting gusts up to 100 mph (155 km/h). By June 29, the system became entangled with the other cyclone and was eventually absorbed into its circulation over southern Quebec.
Shortly after Audrey was classified as a tropical cyclone, the United States Weather Bureau advised ships in the path of the storm to exercise caution and small craft to remain in port on June 26. In addition, the Weather Bureau requested that Texas and Louisiana issue hurricane watches for their coasts. These requested watches were later succeeded by a hurricane warning for the entire Louisiana coast later that day. This warning was later extended westward to include areas of the Texas coast south to High Island, Texas. Northwest storm warnings were issued for the upper Texas coast north of Galveston, Texas, while southeast storm warnings were issued for coastal areas between the western border of Mississippi and Pensacola, Florida. These warnings remained posted until Audrey made landfall. Small craft warnings were issued the next day for coastal areas between Brownsville, Texas and Pensacola, Florida.
News outlets far removed from the actual catastrophe indicate residents in exposed low-lying areas were urged to evacuate by the Weather Bureau, due to the potential for high and damaging storm surge expected to be between five and eight feet. In the Wednesday, June 26 10:00 pm Weather Bureau update, the hurricane warnings were changed to evacuate the southwestern coastal area of Louisiana. Some people ignored this warning while others found out too late. While at sea, the hurricane produced waves up to 50 ft (15.2 meters) in height. On 27 June, peak winds of 145 mph (233 km/h) were attained as Hurricane Audrey made landfall near the Texas/Louisiana border. The hurricane pushed ashore a peak storm surge of 12 ft (3.7 m) that caused much destruction. Storm surges of at least 1.8 m (6 ft) were experienced from Galveston, Texas to Cocodrie, Louisiana. Most of the 600 or more lives lost in relation to the hurricane were casualties of the storm surge. Evacuation procedures in Texas began after landfall was made on June 27, starting with residents in the Bolivar Peninsula area. Several power lines were redirected to Fort Davis to act as an emergency supply in the event of a mass evacuation. In Louisiana, schools were set up as emergency shelters. All residents on Grand Isle were urged to evacuate after the island was isolated from the mainland during Hurricane Flossy a year prior; 3,400 residents later evacuated from the island to cities in southern Louisiana. However, 600 residents remained on the island during the storm. Civil defense groups in the state placed key personnel in the area on 24-hour duty.
The name "Audrey" was soon retired and will never be used again to name a hurricane. Because of this, it was the only use of the name Audrey for the Atlantic Basin. Hurricane Audrey left $147 million (1957 USD) in damage and at least 416 fatalities in the US, most in eastern Texas and western Louisiana. Audrey is ranked as the eighth deadliest hurricane to hit the United States mainland since accurate record-keeping began in 1900. No future hurricane caused as many fatalities in the United States until Katrina in 2005. A study conducted by the National Hurricane Research Project Report No. 23 Hurricane Audrey Storm Tide conducted by the U.S. Weather Bureau found the extensive collection of storm tide data available from Hurricane Audrey was not sufficient to permit a detailed reconstruction of the events as they occurred. It was strongly suggested that warning procedures could be more effective if information concerning the tide heights on the open coast were available at proper places inland. This information, in addition to the other information concerning hurricanes, would permit a better estimation of the ultimate storm tide peak. This information, properly related to other hurricane information, should also help the local officials responsible for public safety to determine the seriousness of the situation at an earlier hour, and might justify a forced evacuation, if necessary. Information on the current state of the tide, if promptly available at the right places, should lead to a significant reduction in the loss of life attributable to hurricanes.
The afternoon and evening of June 26, 1957, saw the Cajun community of southwestern Louisiana were tracking a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico that was predicted by the New Orleans Weather Bureau to make landfall listening intently to the radio and television reports and updates and any short wave radio transmissions that were available. A disturbance in the Bay of Campeche was classified as a tropical depression on the basis of weather reports from the Mexican coast and shrimpers in the Gulf. When a Navy reconnaissance flight investigated the storm the next morning, they found it was already a hurricane and it was named Audrey. The reports were bleak for the landfall area. As the landfall deadline grew nearer and with advisories indicating the storm would not be until late afternoon on June 27 residents were busy loading and packing precious belongings into cars that were filled with gas and pointed towards Lake Charles and points north so they would be ready to head out at daybreak.
Reference: Deadliest US hurricanes
The 10 p.m. advisory was said to be 235 miles south of Lake Charles with forward speed of 10 mph with probable landfall late the following day. It was estimated the wind speed was 100 mph. There was plenty of time the next morning to leave their beloved community as radio and television announcers telling folk to rest easy for the night and leave the next morning. At 1 a.m. on June 27, the Lake Charles Weather Bureau released an update bulletin announcing Audrey had increased intensity of winds to 150 mph and a forward speed of 15 mph and was 150 miles from landfall. The communities went to bed at 10:00 p.m. with twenty three hours to evacuate and unbeknownst to them, there was only ten hours left before landfall. No one knew of the change in velocity and speed as the broadcasts were off the air for the day. Residents of Cameron, Vermilion and Iberia Parishes were asleep and unaware of the danger approaching rapidly. A flight which left Corpus Christi Naval Station at 11:18 p.m. on June 26 never penetrated the storm. After making one radar fix the mission was aborted due to radar failure. The previous radar fix was made at 1:49 p.m. on the 26th. The information would not have been disseminated due to broadcasters being off air though. Waking up between 4:00 and 5:00 o'clock with 6 feet of water coming into houses, flowing under houses was not uncommon the morning of June 27. It was determined this rapid rise of water level was not a part of the storm surge, but was a tidal wave being pushed by the hurricane. About a thousand people sought refuge in the Cameron Parish Courthouse. Of the three stories the first two were inundated with storm water mixed with sewerage and debris pushed on shore. Those who did not make it to the safety of large safe structures hung on in upturned roots of oak trees sharing their space with water moccasins and nutria rats who were seeking safety from the storm.
Sheriff O. B. Carter gave testimony in the Bartie v. United States that Von Lewin weathercaster for KPLC in Lake Charles, Louisiana, stated on the 10:00 p.m. June 26 broadcast "You can rest well tonight, get a good night's sleep because the storm will not reach the shores, the land, before late tomorrow afternoon".
In a lawsuit, Bartie v. United States in which multiple families sued the U.S. Weather Bureau for not providing proper notification of the danger involved in Hurricane Audrey prior to landfall. The same ominous warning: "All persons in low exposed places should move to higher ground." This time the warning was coupled with, "winds are increasing and will reach gale force tonight and early Thursday" continued to create peace in the hearts of the Cameron Parish residents instead of giving better information that would have caused an urgency to vacate the Parish. There was a broadcast on both TV and Radio immediately after the regular 10:00 P.M. news on that night. The Supreme Court of the United States determined that the broadcasters comments were made on the Hurricane which were intended for Lake Charles residents primarily but which were heard and viewed in the Cameron and coastal areas as well. Since the Weather Bureau did not control the broadcast the expressions "there is no need for alarm tonight," and "you can rest well tonight" could not be attributed to the U.S. Weather Bureau.
One mobile drilling rig sank, with four tenders suffering damage when pulled loose from their mooring and running aground. The damage from all offshore oil facilities totaled US$16 million (1957 dollars).
Although making landfall near the border between Texas and Louisiana, areas of eastern Texas saw relatively less damage associated with Audrey. In Port Arthur, Texas, winds gusted to 85 mph (135 km/h), while the barometric pressure fell to 966 mbar (hPa; 28.52 inHg). The strong winds blew down communication lines and uprooted trees. Storm surge heights exceeded 6 ft (1.8 m) in coastal areas north of Galveston. Farther south in Corpus Christi, Texas, storm tides peaked at 4 ft (1.2 m) above normal, washing out portions of Mustang Island Park Road. A 0.75 mi (1.2 km) section of Texas State Highway 87 between High Island and Sabine Pass, Texas, was later closed after sections of the highway were washed out by high water. Further inland, rainfall peaked at 7.35 in (187 mm) at Jefferson County Airport, setting a daily rainfall record. Overall, Audrey caused $8 million in damages and nine deaths in Texas.
While moving inland, Audrey spawned 23 tornadoes which killed two people and injured 14 others in Mississippi and Alabama, while causing $600,000 (1957 USD) in damage. In the Midwest, the flow of moisture from Audrey intersected a weather front to its north, creating a large storm with associated rainfall of 5 inches (130 mm) to 11 inches (280 mm) extending from central Missouri east-northeast across central Illinois and central Indiana. The 10.20 inches (259 mm) of rain that fell in Paris, Illinois, led to a monthly precipitation record for June of 17.65 inches (448 mm) and its wettest year on record with a total of 61.59 inches (1,564 mm). It also flooded the entire town. The storm dropped huge amounts of rain that caused significant flooding, leaving 10 fatalities. In Pennsylvania, the storm produced 65 mph (105 km/h) sustained winds, while winds of 95-100 mph (153-161 km/h) were reported in New York. In Canada, winds up to 80 mph (129 km/h) were reported and there were 15 fatalities.
As an extratropical cyclone, Audrey brought hurricane-force winds as far east as St. Albans, Vermont, where a gust of 80 miles per hour (130 km/h) was measured. Throughout the state, countless trees and power lines were downed. In Maine, rough seas stirred up by the storm forced yachts to be grounded.
The remnants of Audrey entered Ontario with tropical storm force winds after crossing Lake Ontario. Heavy rainfall in the province washed out roads and rail lines. Six people were trapped in Algonquin Provincial Park for four days due to dangerous river currents and downed trees blocking roads. One boy drowned and a firefighter died due to the storm, and three other people died in Ontario due to traffic accidents. In neighboring Quebec, the remnants of Audrey were considered the worst storm in about 20 years, and over 100 houses were damaged by floods. The Montreal district of Saraguay lost power for several days. Throughout Montreal, there were 10 deaths, nine of which due to traffic accidents. This made Audrey the deadliest tropical cyclone in Quebec on record.