Hurricane Donna

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Hurricane Donna
Donna near its Florida landfall

Donna near its Florida landfall
Duration Aug. 29 - Sep. 14, 1960
Highest winds 160 mph (260 km/h) sustained
Damages $3.3 billion (2005 dollars)
Fatalities 364 direct
Areas affected Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Bahamas, every state on the U.S. East Coast from Florida to Maine, Atlantic Canada (Most land areas ever affected by an Atlantic hurricane)
Part of the 1960 Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane Donna in the 1960 Atlantic hurricane season was a Category 5 Cape Verde-type hurricane that interfered with the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispanola, Cuba, The Bahamas, and every single state on the eastern seaboard of the United States. It caused billions of US dollars in damages and killed an estimated 364 people.


Storm history

Storm path
Storm path

Donna holds the record for retaining "major hurricane" status (category 3 or greater on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale) in the Atlantic Basin for the longest period of time on record. For nine days, September 2 to September 11, Donna consistently had sustained winds of at least 115 mph. From the moment it became a tropical depression to when it dissipated after becoming an extratropical storm, Donna roamed the Atlantic from August 29 to September 14, a total of 17 days. While crossing the Atlantic Donna briefly achieved Category 5 strength.

After its voyage across the Gulf Stream, Donna moved north of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola before crossing the Bahamas.

The storm first made landfall in the community of Marathon, centered on Key Vaca in the middle Florida Keys. At this first landfall, wind gusts ranging from 175 to 200 mph were reported along with a minimum central pressure of 27.46 inHg (930 mbar) and a 13 foot storm surge.

Most intense landfalling U.S. hurricanes

Intensity is measured solely by central pressure

Rank Hurricane Year Landfall pressure
1 Labor Day 1935 892 mbar (hPa)
2 Camille 1969 909 mbar (hPa)
3 Katrina 2005 918 mbar (hPa)
4 Andrew 1992 922 mbar (hPa)
5 Indianola 1886 925 mbar (hPa)
6 Florida Keys 1919 927 mbar (hPa)
7 Okeechobee 1928 929 mbar (hPa)
8 Donna 1960 930 mbar (hPa)
9 New Orleans 1915 931 mbar (hPa)
10 Carla 1961 931 mbar (hPa)
Source: U.S. National Hurricane Center

The storm crossed into the Gulf of Mexico and its course shifted northward. Donna paralleled the southwest coast of Florida until it made landfall again on Florida between Naples and Fort Myers as a Category 4 hurricane.

After crossing the Florida peninsula, it continued and moved back out into the Atlantic Ocean near Daytona Beach. Donna headed up the East Coast, and made another landfall at Topsail Beach, North Carolina. It then finished its trip by heading into New England, with a final landfall across Long Island, New York.

Donna, unlike Hurricane Charley which followed a similar track in 2004, was a slow-moving storm. Donna dumped 10 to 12 inches of rain in the southern half of Florida, along with about seven inches in the northern half. The three weeks prior to Donna's landfall produced a 6-7 inch surplus in rain before the hurricane hit, exacerbating the problem.


Florida suffered profound losses from Donna, more than any other state. Damage in the Keys at the original point of landfall was most severe, where Donna's winds and storm surge destroyed many buildings and vessels. 35% of the state's grapefruit crop was lost, 10% of the orange and tangerine crop was lost, and the avocado crop was almost completely wiped out. The day after the storm hit, President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared a disaster area from the Keys up to Central Florida.

Although weaker, it caused a lot of damage in North Carolina and New York. Donna was one of the few hurricanes to affect every state along the East Coast; in fact it is the only storm to produce hurricane-force winds on every inch of the east coast from Florida to Maine. 50 people were reported dead in the United States, with damages totalling to $3.04 billion (2004 USD) [1].

Deaths were also reported in Puerto Rico and the Bahamas, bringing the official number of total fatalities to 364 [2].

The name Donna was retired and will never be used for a hurricane again; the name was replaced by Dora in 1964.

See also

External links

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