1980 Atlantic hurricane season

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1980 Atlantic hurricane season
Season summary map
Season summary map
First storm formed: July 31, 1980
Last storm dissipated: Nov. 28, 1980
Strongest storm: Allen - 899 mbar (26.55 inHg), 165 knots (190 mph)
Total storms: 11
Major storms (Cat. 3+) 2
Total damages: $1 billion
(1982 USD)
Total fatalites: 256
Atlantic hurricane seasons
1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982

The 1980 Atlantic hurricane season was an ongoing event in the annual cycle of tropical cyclone formation. It officially started June 1, 1980, and lasted until November 30, 1980.

The 1980 season was fairly active, with 11 storms forming, of which nine reached hurricane strength. Only three storms made landfall in 1980, two of which were only tropical storms.

The most notable storm of 1980 was Hurricane Allen. Allen was a powerful storm that travelled across the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico at Category 4 strength or stronger, causing widespread damage.

Other damaging storms of the season include Tropical Storm Danielle, which flooded the area of Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas; and Tropical Storm Hermine, which was responsible for flooding in Mexico.



Hurricane Allen

Main Article: Hurricane Allen

Like most Atlantic hurricanes, Allen originated in a tropical wave that moved off the coast of Africa. Allen reached tropical storm strength on August 2, and on the 3rd moved between Barbados and St. Lucia as a hurricane. Now in the Caribbean Sea, Allen passed just south of Hispaniola, then continued west between Cuba and Jamaica.

Hurricane Allen stayed south of Cuba, and then passed through the Yucatan Channel into the Gulf of Mexico. The center of Hurricane Allen finally struck land in southern Texas near the border with Mexico. Allen underwent a rapid drop in intensity just before its only landfall. This decrease was described in hindsight by a National Weather Service statement as "miraculous", and is considered responsible for greatly reducing the number of fatalities in the United States.

Allen was one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes of record, and reached Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale three times. When the storm was passing south of Cuba, its wind field extended so far as to cause gale force winds to be recorded in the Florida Keys on the far side of Cuba. Allen is also the earliest storm on record to reach Category 5 intensity in the Atlantic basin; a strength it first attained on August 5.

Allen killed roughly 250 people, although estimates vary on the exact number. Eighteen people were reported dead on St. Lucia, one on Guadeloupe, two-hundred twenty in Haiti, eight in Jamaica, three in Cuba, and two direct deaths were reported in the United States. Property damage was estimated at over $1 billion (1980 US dollars), mostly to the US and Haiti.

Hurricane Bonnie

Bonnie formed mid-way between Cape Verde and the Windward Islands on August 14. The storm moved almost due north, strengthening into a hurricane. A companion tropical system formed near Bonnie, but never exceeded depression strength. Bonnie continued north until it became extratropical on August 19.

Hurricane Bonnie caused no known damage.

Hurricane Charley

An extratropical strom moved off the Atlantic coast of the US on August 20. As it moved over the ocean, its circulation closed, and it took on subtropical characteristics. It followed a looping path generally to the east. On the 23rd, it reached hurricane strength and began moving almost due east. It weakened, and was absorbed by an extratropical cyclone on August 26. Charley caused no reported damage and did not affect land.

Tropical Storm Danielle

Danielle formed as a tropical depression off the coast of Louisiana on September 4. As it moved west, it strengthened, reaching tropical storm intensity on the 5th while just south of Cameron, Louisiana. It struck land near Galveston, Texas a few hours later. It weakened over land, but its circulation was tracked as far inland as Del Rio.

Wind and wave damage from Danielle was minimal to non-existent. However, heavy rainfall caused flooding in the Beaumont-Port Arthur area. The Beaumont airport recorded 17.16 inches (436 mm) of rain, setting a new 24-hour record for that location.

Hurricane Earl

Hurricane Earl was the first of a short series of Cape Verde-type storms to form in early September. Earl became a named storm on September 6, although re-analysis showed that it actually reached tropical storm strength on the 4th. Earl followed a curving path roughly centered on the Azores. It reached hurricane strength on September 8, and weakened and had become extratropical by the 10th.

Earl caused no reported damage to land or shipping.

Hurricane Frances

A strong low pressure system moved off the african coast on September 5, and rapidly strengthened, reaching hurricane intensity by the 7th. Frances moved slowly to the west, then its track curved north. It then turned northeast and was absorbed by another low pressure system over the north Atlantic on September 20. The peak windspeed was 115mph making this a Category 3 hurricane.

Reports of strong tropical storm force winds were received from ships, but no damage was reported except for minor squalls in Cape Verde.

Hurricane Georges

Georges initially formed as a tropical depression over the central Atlantic on September 1. This depression remained weak for the next several days as it travelled west-northwest. Interaction with a non-tropical low disrupted the depression and destroyed its circulation. On September 5, a subtropical system began forming out of the depression's remnants as they began turning to the northeast. The subtropical depression strengthened and became tropical, finally becoming a named storm on September 7 as it passed north of Bermuda. The tropical storm intensified into a hurricane, one of few to do so north of 40° N. After passing Cape Race, Georges lost its tropical characteristics over cold water. Georges caused no known damage.

Tropical Storm Hermine

An African tropical wave that traversed the Atlantic Ocean organized into a tropical storm off the coast of Honduras on September 21. After grazing Honduras, a disorganized Tropical Storm Hermine made landfall just north of Belize City on the 22nd. After crossing the Yucatan Peninsula, Hermine briefly emerged over the Bay of Campeche where it restrengthened before recurving back into the Mexican coast. The storm drifted inland and dissipated on September 26.

Hermine caused fresh water flooding in Mexico, but no exact figures were received by the National Hurricane Center. No reports on Honduras and Belize were received by the NHC, but meteorologists stated that similar flooding likely occurred there as well.

Hurricane Ivan

1980's Ivan was an unusual storm, forming from an extratropical system that had been tracked off the coast of Portugal since late September. The extratropical storm moved erratically southwest past the Azores, slowly acquiring tropical characteristics. On October 4, the system became a named tropical storm. Tropical Storm Ivan rapidly intensified to a Category 2 hurricane, tracking first west-northwest, then sharply turning to the northeast. Ivan merged with an extratropical system and a front on October 11.

Ivan's formation was unexpected, occurring over cold water and in a portion of the Atlantic where tropical development is uncommon. The hurricane caused no known damage, as the storm never affected land and no ships experienced hurricane force winds.

Hurricane Jeanne

Jeanne was another unusual storm, becoming one of a handful of November hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and the first recorded to have reached hurricane status while already in the Gulf. Jeanne began as a tropical depression near the coast of Nicaragua on November 8. The depression reached tropical storm strength the next day as it moved through the Yucatan Channel. Jeanne turned westward over the central Gulf, and strengthened into a hurricane. As the hurricane entered the western Gulf, it weakened to a tropical storm. It meandered for several days until a cold front moving off the Texas coast destroyed its circulation. The systems merged on November 16.

Damage was limited to shipping, which was caught by surprise by the late-season storm. Fringe effects of Hurricane Jeanne triggered a record-breaking 23.28 inches (591 mm) of rain at Key West, Florida.

Hurricane Karl

A large extratropical low formed off the southeastern coast of the United States on November 21. The low moved away from the coast, and a convective cloud mass began forming near the low's center. By November 25, the cloud mass showed distinct signs of being a tropical system, and when its intensity was estimated at hurricane strength, it was classified as Hurricane Karl. Karl followed a curving cyclonic path, first east, then north. It approached the Azores on the 27th, but did not approach close enough to affect the islands. By November 28, Hurricane Karl had become extratropical. No damage is associated with the storm.

1980 storm names

The following names were used for named storms that formed in the north Atlantic in 1980. The names not retired from this list were used again in the 1986 season. All of the names on the list were used for the first time, except those predating the post-1978 naming scheme. Names that were not assigned are marked in gray.

  • Allen
  • Bonnie
  • Charley
  • Danielle
  • Earl
  • Frances
  • Georges
  • Hermine
  • Ivan
  • Jeanne
  • Karl
  • Lisa (unused)
  • Mitch (unused)
  • Nicole (unused)
  • Otto (unused)
  • Paula (unused)
  • Richard (unused)
  • Shary (unused)
  • Tomas (unused)
  • Virginie (unused)
  • Walter (unused)


The World Meteorological Organization retired one name in the spring of 1981: Allen. It was replaced in 1986 season by Andrew.

See also

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