Scenes of Camille's
Camille was born off the
African coast on August 5th but didn't become
a hurricane until the 15th. Once into the Gulf
of Mexico, the small, powerful hurricane intensified
rapidly. By late afternoon on the 16th an Air
Force reconnaissance plane measured a 905 mb
pressure (26.72 inches) and winds of 160 mph,
indicating a Category 5 hurricane, the most
powerful on the Saffir/Simpson Scale.
Early on the 17th when
Camille was centered 250 miles south of Mobile,
AL, the Air Force team found a central pressure
of 901 mb (26.61 inches) and maximum winds of
more than 200 mph near the center. That pressure
reading was second only to the Labor Day hurricane
of 1935 in which a 26.35 inch (892 mb) pressure
was recorded in the Florida Keys.
Camille and the 1935 Keys
storm are the only category 5 hurricanes to
hit the U.S. this century. The lowest pressure
ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere occurred
during Hurricane Gilbert in 1988--888 mb (26.23
Camille made landfall
on the Mississippi coast at 10:30 PM CST on
the 17th passing over Bay St. Louis, MS, with
estimated winds over 200 mph. However, it was
the devastating storm surge that flooded coastal
areas and caused the greatest damage and loss
of life. Flooding was most severe in the Pass
Christian-Long Beach, MS area where storm tides
of 24.6 feet above mean sea level were measured--higher
than any previous storm tide of record.
Despite early warnings
and mass evacuations, Camille ranks high as
one of the most destructive killers ever to
hit the U.S. Camille's reputation as a killer
did not end at the Gulf Coast. As an extra tropical
depression, Camille moved northeastward through
western Tennessee, Kentucky and then eastward
through extreme southern West Virginia and southern
Virginia. Late on the 19th the remnants of Camille
produced torrential rains over the Appalachians
causing flash floods and landslides in southeastern
West Virginia and central Virginia. This resulted
in the worst flooding of the century in that
area. Several amounts of more than 25 inches
were found on post examination--most of it occurring
in an 8 hour period.
The final death count
for the U.S. is listed at 256. This includes
the Gulf Coast and the Virginias--143 on the
Gulf Coast and another 113 from the Virginia
floods. The damage in 1990 dollars was estimated
at $5.2 billion. Camille was the 5th most costly
storm in U.S. history, following Andrew, Hugo,
Betsy, and Agnes.
In loving memory
of those who were taken from us
by the wrath of Hurricane Camille.
* * *
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