The 1979 Atlantic hurricane season
began on June 1, 1979, and lasted until November 30, 1979.
dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most
tropical cyclones form in the
notable storm of 1979 was Hurricane
David, a Category 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane
Scale that killed over 2,000 people, mostly in the
Dominican Republic, and caused nearly 1.5 billion dollars in
damage (1979 USD).
Hurricane Frederic, which caused
$2.3 billion (1979 US dollars;
$6.5 billion in 2005 USD), became the most expensive
hurricane in United States history (at
the time) when it made landfall near the border between Mississippi and Alabama.
The 1979 season was an average but destructive season with 27
depressions, but only 9 became storms. The notable cyclones include
Tropical Depression Two which caused one of Jamaica's worst natural
disasters. Tropical Storm Claudette became one of the most
destructive tropical storms of all time and creating a 24-hour
rainfall record at the time. Hurricane
David peaked at Category 5 status becoming the first
hurricane of such strength to make landfall directly in the
Dominican Republic, killing over 2000 people.
Frederic became a weak Category 4 hurricane with winds of ,
doing over $4–8 billion dollars in damage (2005 USD) to
the same area as Hurricane David. Hurricane Henri formed in
Mid-September in the Gulf of
Mexico and never
made landfall, which is a rare occurrence.
Damage for the
whole season totaled out to $12.1 billion
Tropical Depression One
tropical depression formed on June 9 and headed north to Bermuda, but
dissipated the next day.
Tropical Depression Two
depression formed west of Jamaica on June 11 produced heavy rainfalls with record floods
in several parishes for two days with maximum sustained winds of .
depression continued north, parallelling the Florida coast on
June 15 and made landfall in South Carolina on June 16.
Tropical Depression Two dissipated
over land. The town of Friendship recorded of rain with 15 in other
parts of western Jamaica. Due to saturated mud from other rains, caused
one of Jamaica's worst
natural disaster in the 70s.
Over 210,000 people were
affected by floods on June 12
for major damage. Economic damages totalled out to $27 million
(1979 USD-$75 million in 2006 USD) with forty people
The flooding in western Jamaica from Tropical Depression Two
devastated the area and caused the government to establish a
permanent disaster management organization.
Tropical Storm Ana
Ana formed as the third tropical
east of the Lesser
on June 19
. She was one of the
first tropical storms to develop that far east during the month of
June since the 1933
Atlantic hurricane season
. The depression curved gently
northwest and strengthened into Tropical Storm Ana while northeast
of Barbados on June 22
. Ana crossed the
and weakened into a
tropical depression. The storm degenerated the next morning in
the central Caribbean Sea.
Tropical Depression Four
Depression Four formed north of Hispaniola on July
8. The depression came near to Bermuda but didn't
Tropical Depression Four then curved
northeast. Tropical Depression Four dissipated on July 13 in the
Bob was a
weak hurricane that formed in the western Gulf of
curved northeast. The storm strengthened rapidly, reaching
hurricane strength a couple hundred miles south of the Louisiana coast on
July 11. It made landfall near
later that day, killing two people and causing $20 million
($55.56 million in 2006 USD) in
damages. Bob dropped 3-5 inches of rain over
southern Indiana before looping over the mid-Atlantic states and out into the
storm finally dissipated on July 16
the first July hurricane in the Gulf of
Debra in the 1959
season as well as the first Atlantic hurricane to have a male name
from the new alternating male-female lists..
Tropical Storm Claudette
Claudette was a long-lived (July 15
) but fairly weak storm that spent
almost its entire life as a tropical depression. Claudette formed in
the central Atlantic east of the
It had two
spells as a tropical storm; the first was a brief one east of
. The storm passed directly
over the island just after weakening, where it killed one person
from flooding. The depression moved casually through the Greater Antilles
and moved into the Gulf of
Mexico. Claudette restrengthened into a tropical
storm south of Sabine, Texas and made
landfall near Port Arthur, killing one person from floods.
stalled over Alvin, Texas on the
evening of the 25th, and dropped of rain there over the next 42
hours; this included in 24 hours, the record 24-hour rainfall in US
history at the time.
Damages from flooding in Texas were
enormous, totaling $400 million (1979 USD
($1.1 billion 2005 USD)). Claudette was one of the
costliest storms on record that never reached hurricane intensity.
Tropical Depression Nine
This depression formed on July 9. The depression head in a straight
direction west. The depression dissipated on July 11.
Tropical Depression Ten
The tenth tropical depression of the 1979 season formed on July 28
south of where TD Nine formed a week before.
depression moved to the northwest, making landfall as a tropical
depression in Bermuda on August 4. The depression made landfall on the
southeastern tip of Newfoundland on August 5 after passing
southeast of Nova Scotia earlier that
Tropical Depression Ten dissipated on August 6
southeast of Labrador
. No damage or fatality reports are
David ranks as one of the strongest and deadliest Atlantic hurricanes
on record. It formed
from a tropical wave
in the central
Atlantic east of the Windward
. The storm headed west, steadily strengthening. By the
time David reached the Leeward
, it was at Category 4 intensity. David continued
strengthening and reached Category 5 status south of Puerto Rico
. It spent nearly two days at Category 5
intensity, storming through Santo
the capital of the Dominican
Republic. Crossing Hispaniola weakened
the storm greatly however, and David exited the island as a weak
Category 1. It strengthened into a Category 2 off the south Florida
coast. The western eyewall crossed the shoreline near Fort Lauderdale and continued up the entire length of the
The beach erosion was severe. David made landfall
near Savannah, Georgia as a Category 1 and dissipated inland.
killed over 2,000 people in Hispaniola, 56 people on the
island of Dominica, and
12 people in the U.S. as well as causing $1.54 billion
(1979 USD ($4.36 billion 2005 USD)) in
David was only one of two storms to directly
Dominican Republic at such intensity, the only other being the
Hurricane 2 of
Tropical Storm Elena
tropical wave formed over Florida on August 27, however on August
29, ship and buoy reports mentioned a low-level circulation
An Air Force
flight confirmed the
report and was upgraded into Tropical Depression Six on the same
day. Slow development occurred causing the depression to gain
strength slowly, however by the next day, it was able to strengthen
into Tropical Storm Elena. Elena did not intensify, peaking at 40
with a pressure of 1004 mbar.
turned toward the Texas coast near Matagorda
watches and warnings and made landfall on September 1 as a weak tropical storm.
Elena could not even be identified as a tropical depression by the
Elena caused less than $10 million dollars (1979 USD)
($28 million 2005 USD) in damage but managed to kill two
people in floods.
Frederic was a long-lived Cape
. It first became a hurricane in the
central Atlantic east of the Windward
but soon weakened back into a tropical storm. Frederic
crossed Hispaniola and weakened into a tropical depression.
then crossed Cuba and regained
tropical storm strength before entering the Gulf of Mexico.
was then that Frederic started to strengthen rapidly. By the time it
reached a point just east of the Mississippi
River Delta, Frederic was a Category 4.
landfall near the Alabama/Mississippi
Due to prior warning, the death toll was a minimal
five people; however, damages soared to $2.3 billion
(1979 dollars ($6.5 billion 2005 dollars)) in
Hurricane Gloria began as a large African disturbance and became
Tropical Depression Seventeen on September
off the northwestern African coast. As common with early
September, TD Seventeen took a northwesterly direction, passing to
the northeast of Cape Verde.
northwesterly course was influenced by the depression's large size.
On September 6
, the depression became
Tropical Storm Gloria and reached hurricane strength the next day.
After becoming a hurricane, Gloria slowed down to just about to the
northwest until September 10
rising pressures caused Gloria to go in a westerly drift for a few
days. Rapid acceleration to the northeast occurred with satellites
indicating that Gloria had reached her peak intensity of on
with a minimum pressure of
975 mbar. Gloria merged with a low-pressure system on September 15
and lost tropical
Gloria did not affect landmasses and was only a threat to marine
a weak hurricane that took an unusual track through the Gulf of Mexico.
as a tropical depression off Cancún and curved
around the peninsula, entering the Bay of
Henri quickly strengthened into a tropical
storm and reached hurricane strength on September 17
. It soon weakened back to a tropical storm
and stalled off Tampico, Mexico.
Henri then doubled back the way it came, weakened into a tropical
depression, and curved sharply east into the open Gulf of Mexico,
dissipating in the eastern Gulf. No damage was reported. This was a
rare example of a storm entering the Gulf of Mexico and dissipating
without making landfall.
Tropical Depression Nineteen
Tropical Depression Twenty
tropical depression of the 1979 season formed as a non-tropical low
on September 19 off the coast of
Brownsville, Texas. The low appeared in the same area as
Hurricane Henri was drifting around in the Gulf of Mexico.
low became TD 20 on the 20 September
off the Texas coast. The depression made landfall in Texas on
, dissipating over land.
The depression left 10-15 inches of rainfall throughout the
area from Corpus Christi, Texas to southwestern Louisiana.
Tropical Depression Twenty-One
Tropical Depression Twenty-Two
tropical depression formed on October 12
near Honduras and moved to
the northeast towards Cuba.
depression passed by Cuba and turned back towards the Yucatan Peninsula.
The depression made landfall in the Yucatan
on October 20
and dissipated afterwards.
Subtropical Storm One
Subtropical Storm One formed south of
Bermuda on October 23 and headed north.
The subtropical depression
and became a subtropical storm. This unnamed storm continued
and continued to strengthen. The storm
briefly reached hurricane strength (though it was not a
because it was not
tropical) before weakening. The storm made landfall on Newfoundland
on the 25th and dissipated later that day. No damage was reported.
Tropical Depression Twenty-Five
tropical depression of the 1979 season formed near Panama on October 24. The depression moved
to the north towards Cuba but changed
directions and headed towards Nicaragua, where it
made landfall on October 29, dissipating
Tropical Depression Twenty-Six
The 26th tropical depression of the 1979 season formed from an old
baroclinic zone on November 8
. The depression moved
northeastward but appeared to have made contact with the
westerlies. However, strong pressure rises caused the depression to
weaken and turn back to the southwest. Ships that passed through
the system recorded winds of 35-40 mph.
Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) Rating
The table on the right shows the ACE
for each storm in the season.
The ACE is, broadly speaking, a measure of the power of the
hurricane multiplied by the length of time it existed for, so
hurricanes that lasted a long time have higher ACEs. ACE only
counts storms of tropical storm strength, so all of the depressions
this year have no ACE. Also, subtropical storms aren't included in
season totals, so subtropical storm 1 has no ACE as well. The total
ACE for this season was 91.2, which is slightly above
The following names were used for named storms that formed in the
north Atlantic in 1979. This season marked the debut of the current
set of six lists containing both male and female names, replacing
of female name lists introduced in 1971; this was
due to protests from women's rights groups. Unisex names were
considered, though prior to the start of the season the World Meteorological
approved of the current list alternating between
male and female names of English, Spanish, and French origin.
Initially, male names were scheduled to be introduced in the
were named Ana, Bob, Claudette, David, Frederic and Henri for the
first time in 1979. The name Elena was previously used in the
, and the
name Gloria was used in 1976. The names not retired from this list
were used again in the 1985 season
. Names that were
not assigned are marked in .
retired two names in the spring of
1980: David and Frederic. They were replaced in the 1985 season
by Danny and
This is a table of the storms in 1979 and their landfall(s), if
any. Deaths in parentheses are additional and indirect (an example
of an indirect death would be a traffic accident), but are still
storm-related. Damage and deaths include totals while the storm was
extratropical or a wave or low.