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Hurricane Donna in the 1960 Atlantic hurricane season was a Cape Verde-type hurricane which moved across the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispanolamarker, Cubamarker, The Bahamasmarker, and every state on the East Coast of the United States. Hurricane 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. For nine days, September 2 to September 11, Donna consistently had maximum sustained winds of at least . From the time 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.

Heavy rainfall and hurricane-force winds were reported from the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islandsmarker, the Bahamas, and the eastern United States. These winds led to a significant loss to the Floridamarker fruit crops, and salt spray blown in from the Atlantic caused the leaves of some plants to instantly brown across portions of Massachusettsmarker. A storm surge of up to impacted areas near its track across the Florida Keysmarker. The cyclone caused billions of US dollars in damages and killed at least 364 people.


At noon on September 3, a hurricane watch was issued for the Leeward Islands, which at 6 p.m was upgraded to a warning. Also at 6 p.m., hurricane watches were raised for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, which at 6 a.m. on the 4th, were upgraded to warnings. By 6 a.m. on the 5th, hurricane warnings were dropped for the Leeward Islands, and at 9 a.m., southwest Puerto Rico and the Virgin Island's hurricane warnings were downgraded to gale warnings. By noon, all remaining hurricane warnings for Puerto Rico were changed to gale warnings. At 7 a.m. on the 7th, hurricane conditions were considered possible for the southeast Bahamas, with preliminary caution raised for the central Bahamas. At 1:30 p.m., a hurricane watch was issued for the Florida coast from Key Westmarker to Melbournemarker. Routes to Fort Lauderdale Beachmarker were blocked off prior to the storm's arrival. At 11 a.m. on the 8th, hurricane conditions were considered possible for the Cubanmarker coast west of Cayo Romanomarker, and hurricane watches were upgraded to hurricane warnings from Key West to Key Largomarker, with hurricane watches raised on the west coast northward to Fort Myersmarker. At 5 p.m., gale warnings were issued from Key Largo to Vero Beachmarker.

Hurricane Donna approaching the Florida Keys
On the 9th at 11 a.m., hurricane warnings were in effect for southern Florida from Fort Lauderdale to Punta Gordamarker, while new gale warnings were raised from Punta Gorda to St. Marksmarker and Lake Okeechobeemarker. At 1 p.m., a hurricane watch was in effect from Punta Gorda to Cedar Keymarker while a hurricane watch continued between Fort Lauderdale and Melbourne. By 11 p.m., hurricane warnings were extended northward to Melbourne and Clearwatermarker as well as Lake Okeechobee. At 5 a.m. on the 10th, hurricane warnings were extended northward to Daytona Beachmarker and Cedar Key. Gale warnings were issued from Daytona Beach to Savannah, Georgiamarker. At 5 p.m., gale warnings were extended northward to Myrtle Beach, South Carolinamarker. At 11 p.m., hurricane warnings were lowered in the Florida Keys but extended northward from Daytona Beach to Savannah.

At 11 a.m. on the 11th, all warnings were lowered south of Vero Beach and along the Florida west coast, while hurricane warnings were extended northward from Savannah to Myrtle Beach. At 5 p.m., hurricane warnings were lowered south of Fernandina Beachmarker while they were extended northward to include the entire North Carolinamarker coast. Gale warnings were issued northward to Cape Maymarker. At 9 p.m., hurricane warnings were extended northward to Portsmouth, New Hampshiremarker, while gale warnings and a hurricane watch were issued northward to Eastport, Mainemarker. Ships at dock in Newport, Rhode Islandmarker were towed out into the bay to weather the storm. On the 12th at 5 a.m., hurricane warnings were extended northward to Eastport, and dropped south of Cape Hatteras, North Carolinamarker. At 7 a.m., hurricane warnings were lowered south of Cape Charles, Virginiamarker. At 2 p.m., hurricane warnings were dropped south of Cape May. At 5 p.m., hurricane warnings were discontinued south of Manasquan, New Jerseymarker. At 8 p.m., hurricane warnings expired south of Block Islandmarker. By 11 p.m. on September 12, all hurricane warnings had been lowered.


Donna's Rainfall around Puerto Rico
Hurricane Donna was a very destructive hurricane that caused extensive damage from the Lesser Antiles to New Englandmarker. At least 364 people were killed by the hurricane and over $900 million in damage was done (1960 USD).

Leeward Islands

A weather station in St. Maartenmarker reported a sustained wind of 120 mph (195 kph) and a 952 pressure reading in the main airport.Hurricane Donna caused very extensive damage on the island, killed 7 and left at least a quarter of the island's population homeless.On the island of Anguilla similar conditions could have been felt due to its close proximity to the island of St. Maarten which is just about 5 miles in between. During the passing of the hurricane, Anguillamarker recorded one death, a woman. The woman died when the roof of her house collapsed.St. Thomasmarker reported a 41 mph (66 kph) gust as the center of Donna passed north of the island. In Puerto Rico, Donna produced storm tides between .

Donna killed seven people and caused minimal damage when it passed though the Virgin Islands. A large portion of eastern Puerto Rico received over of rainfall. Although the center of the storm was offshore, the outer rain bands brought heavy rains that caused serious flash flooding which killed 107 people (85 of them in Humacaomarker).

Donna's Rainfall in the United States


The Turks and Caicos escaped the brunt of the hurricane, receiving only winds and of rain which fell in a twelve hour period. In the Bahamas, the anemometer at Ragged Islandmarker blew away after registering a 150 mph wind gust. At Mayaguanamarker, hurricane force winds raged for 13 hours. Many of the residents sought shelter at a nearby missile tracking station. Several small island communities in the central Bahamas were leveled. North Caicosmarker reported of rainfall in 24 hours. Despite the impact, there were no deaths and damage estimates are not available.


Donna was the first hurricane to affect Miamimarker since October 1950. The highest sustained winds were at Fort Myers and at Key West. Florida suffered significant 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. A storm surge of was reported at Marathonmarker.

Portions of southern and western Florida received over of rainfall from the hurricane. Large tracts of mangrove forest were lost in the western portion of Everglades National Parkmarker, while at least 35 percent of the white heron population in the park lost their lives. A total of 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 destroyed. Donna was the most damaging tropical cyclone to impact Florida up to that time. The day after the storm hit, President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared a disaster area from the Keys up to Central Floridamarker.

Elsewhere in the East

Although weaker, Donna caused considerable and widespread damage from the Carolinas through New Yorkmarker. Beaufort County, South Carolinamarker, for example, saw many trees uprooted, power lines downed, homes unroofed, piers destroyed, and significant damage to corn and soybean crops. Wind gusts of were reported from the Eastern Shore of Chesapeake Bay. Maximum sustained winds of with gusts of were reported from Long Islandmarker and Rhode Islandmarker. Storm surge values reached in New York Harbor, which wrecked area piers.

Blue Hill Observatorymarker in Massachusetts reported gusts to over . The strong southwest winds associated with Donna at Chathammarker in combination with very little rainfall, led to a significant deposit of salt spray which whitewashed southwest-facing windows. Many trees and shrubs saw their leaves brown due to the salt. A swath of of rain fell from North Carolina northeast into Mainemarker. Fifty people were reported dead in the United States, with damages totalling to $3.35 billion (2006 USD). Donna crossed directly over Texas Tower #4, causing severe damage to the structure. Donna was the only hurricane to affect every state along the East Coast with hurricane-force winds.

Aftermath and retirement

In Marathon, a large reconstruction program rehabilitated the key by Christmas. Coral reefs were damaged in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary by the hurricane. Donna caused a significant negative impact on aquatic life in north Florida Baymarker. Marine life was either stranded by retreating salt water which had been driven inland or killed by muddied waters in its wake. Oxygen depletion due to animals perishing in the hurricane caused additional mortality. Although salinity levels returned to normal within six weeks, dissolved oxygen concentrations remained quite low for a longer time frame. Marine life was scarce for several months in areas of greatest oxygen depletion. Sports fishing in the area took a few months to recover. Juvenile pink shrimp moved from their estuarine nursery grounds into deeper water about offshore, where they were subsequently captured by fishermen. A Caspian Tern was swept up the North American coast well to the north of its traditional breeding grounds, to Nova Scotiamarker, which was witnessed four hours after the storm went by Digby Neckmarker.

Because of its devastating impacts and the high mortality associated with the hurricane, the name Donna was retired, and will never again be used for an Atlantic hurricane; the name was replaced by Dora in 1964.

Donna was one of the five rare Cape Verde storm to hit the U.S mainland after being named east of 35W. Other storms were Hurricane Hugo in 1989, Hurricane Georges in 1998, Hurricane Isabel in 2003 and Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

See also


  1. Alan MacLeese (1960). Hurricane Donna: 80-mile winds rake city. Sun Sentinel. Retrieved on 2008-10-10.
  2. Hurricane "Donna" Chronology, September 2-13, 1960. United States Weather Bureau Office of Climatology (1960). Retrieved on 2008-10-10.
  3. Ron Fritz (2008). USS Fred T. Berry DD/DDE 858 Ship's History Addenda: Hurricane Donna. Ron Fritz. Retrieved on 2008-10-10.
  4. Hurricane "Donna" Chronology page 2, September 2-13, 1960. United States Weather Bureau Office of Climatology (1960). Retrieved on 2008-10-10.
  5. Edward N. Rappaport and Jose Fernandez-Partagas. The Deadliest Atlantic Tropical Cyclones, 1492-1996. National Hurricane Center. Retrieved on 2008-10-13.
  6. Gordon E. Dunn (1960). The 1960 Atlantic Hurricane Season., Weather Bureau Office, Retrieved on 2008-10-10.
  7. David M. Roth (2008). Hurricane Donna - September 3-12, 1960. Retrieved on 2008-10-10.
  8. 2007 Hurricane Guide: Are You Prepared? Turks & Caicos Islands Red Cross (2007). Retrieved on 2008-10-10.
  9. National Climatic Data Center (1960). Climatological Data: Florida - September 1960, pp. 2. Retrieved on 2008-10-10.
  10. Climatological Data: Florida - September 1960, pp. 9. National Climatic Data Center (1960). Retrieved on 2008-10-10.
  11. Jason P. Dunion, Christopher W. Landsea, Samuel H. Houston,* and Mark D. Powell (2003). A Reanalysis of the Surface Winds for Hurricane Donna of 1960. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved on 2008-10-13.
  12. Presidential Disaster Declarations for Florida in 1960 By Type. Public Entity Risk Institute (2008). Retrieved on 2008-10-10.
  13. High Winds, Tides Rake Area. Beaufort County Community College (2005). Retrieved on 2008-10-10.
  14. Ben Hogwood (2008). Flirting With Disaster; City Enters Storm Season. Queens Chronicle. Retrieved on 2008-10-10.
  15. Hurricane "Donna" and its After Effects to a Chatham, Massachusetts, Garden. Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University (1961). Retrieved on 2008-10-10.
  16. Eric S. Blake, Chris Landsea, and Edward N. Rappaport (2007). The Deadliest, Costliest, and Most Intense United States Tropical Cyclones from 1851 to 2006 (And Other Frequently Requested Hurricane Facts). National Hurricane Center. Retrieved on 2008-10-10.
  17. Thomas W. Ray (2007). A History of Texas Towers in Air Defense: 1952-1964. The Texas Tower Association. Retrieved on 2008-10-10.
  18. Hurricane History: Hurricane Donna 1960. National Hurricane Center (2008). Retrieved on 2008-10-13.
  19. Lary Solloway (1960). Face-Lifting Erases Scar Donna Left in Keys. New York Times. Retrieved on 2008-10-10.
  20. Coral Mortality and African Dust Photo Gallery. United States Geological Survey (2008). Retrieved on 2008-10-10.
  21. Tabb, Durbin C. and Jones, Albert C. (1962). Effect of Hurricane Donna on the Aquatic Fauna of North Florida Bay. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. Vol. 91, Issue 4. pp. 375‚Äď378.
  22. Caspian Tern. Nova Scotia Museum (1998). Retrieved on 2008-10-10.
  23. Retired Hurricane Names Since 1954. National Hurricane Center (2008). Retrieved on 2008-10-13.

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