Hurricane Allen 1980 (30 years ago this week)

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StormClouds63
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Hurricane Allen 1980 (30 years ago this week)

#1 Postby StormClouds63 » Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:29 am

Haven't seen it mentioned anywhere, but 30 years ago Hurricane Allen was making news as one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record ... reached category 5 strength 3 separate times along its path through the Caribbean and GOM. Here's a bit more trivia:

Maintained category 5 strength for a longer period of time than any other Atlantic basin hurricane.

The forward motion of Allen along most of its track was close to 20 knots!

Central pressure of 909 mb (9/9/80) was the lowest pressure ever measured in the western Gulf of Mexico.

The center of Allen did not cross land at any location until it moved inland north of Brownsville, TX.

Pressure at landfall estimated at 945 mb.

An usually strong high pressure system over the southern U.S. kept Allen on a west or west-northwest motion.

Thought this was interesting as well ... quoted directly from the NHC Allen summary:

"The movement of Allen into the Caribbean, where strong westerly shear had prevailed, appeared likely to doom the hurricane. On the contrary, Allen used the strong shear to strengthen even further. The strong anti-cyclone in the upper atmosphere associated with Allen's outflow moved along with the same forward speed as Allen and converted the westerlies to southerlies. This helped accelerate the outflow and allowed the hurricane to reach record strength."

Allen came after Camille (1969) and before Gilbert (1988), but was quite the story 30 years ago this week.

That high pressure over the U.S. was particularly strong in 1980 ... someone from Dallas may remember ... but they went an incredible number of consecutive days with temperatures over 100+ degrees. I was on vacation in the southeast U.S. in late July and remember the intense heat from that summer.

More original documentation is at:
http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/storm_w ... lim/allen/

A neat global satellite view is at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:GEOSI ... 0Aug08.jpg

That impressive hurricane in the eastern Pacific was named Isis!

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Re: Hurricane Allen 1980 (30 years ago this week)

#2 Postby MGC » Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:58 am

First sub 900mb hurricane I remember. People here on the gulf coast really watched Allen. Fredrick had just hit Fl/Al/Ms in 1979. Allen managed to dodge land except final landfall. We were lucky as the SE USA was protected by a massive mid to UL ridge that resulted in a summer long heat wave.....MGC

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Re: Hurricane Allen 1980 (30 years ago this week)

#3 Postby somethingfunny » Thu Aug 05, 2010 2:02 am

Hmmm, an A storm in August. That must have been a real snoozer of a season. :roll:

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Re: Hurricane Allen 1980 (30 years ago this week)

#4 Postby Frank2 » Thu Aug 05, 2010 6:54 am

It brings back memories for me - it was my first hurricane as a NOAA newbie, and was a very exciting experience...

I recall Dr. Robert Sheets (then with NHEML) saying that it might encounter shear before reaching Barbados...

Frank

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Re: Hurricane Allen 1980 (30 years ago this week)

#5 Postby ColinDelia » Thu Aug 05, 2010 7:05 am

MGC wrote:First sub 900mb hurricane I remember. People here on the gulf coast really watched Allen. Fredrick had just hit Fl/Al/Ms in 1979. Allen managed to dodge land except final landfall. We were lucky as the SE USA was protected by a massive mid to UL ridge that resulted in a summer long heat wave.....MGC



Same here. 1st hurricane I "tracked" was David in '79. Got a day off from 5th grade!

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Re: Hurricane Allen 1980 (30 years ago this week)

#6 Postby abajan » Thu Aug 05, 2010 8:36 am

I was in Ohio during Allen and was rather annoyed that I had missed out on all the excitement! I recall watching news reports about its devastating effects on the banana crop in St. Lucia which is about 100 miles WNW of Barbados. This account of what happened in St. Lucia is interesting (and funny in parts - especially the end where a . . . well perhaps it’s funnier if you read it yourselves.).

It turns out Barbados was not affected too badly, as it was on the weaker (Southern) side of the hurricane.
EDIT: Whoa! Apparently Barbados was more affected than I thought. I have never seen boats here!

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#7 Postby neospaceblue » Thu Aug 05, 2010 9:45 am

One thing that stands out to me in the database is that at one point, it had a pressure of 932 mbar with winds of 180-mph.

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Re: Hurricane Allen 1980 (30 years ago this week)

#8 Postby StormClouds63 » Thu Aug 05, 2010 9:47 pm

Allen (1980) and Gilbert (1988) are often compared since both reached category 5 status and were unusually large systems in terms of area. Ironically, both weakened to category 3 status prior to making landfall. Gilbert made landfall farther south than Allen.

Texans may remember that Gilbert's path was highly debated ... NHC proved right, but as I recall a private weather firm had Gilbert turning north toward Galveston.

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Re: Hurricane Allen 1980 (30 years ago this week)

#9 Postby somethingfunny » Fri Aug 06, 2010 1:08 am

With oil washing up on the shores of South Padre Island from the Ixtoc spill in 1979, the governor of Texas was asked what options were left to deal with the oil slick - he famously said "pray for a hurricane"

That was answered one year later with Allen - thankfully most of the oil had been weatherized by then and didn't cause nearly the catastrophe that some were expecting.

Also I think it's interesting that during the last active cycle there was a trend of westward moving storms peaking at Category Five just offshore Texas before dramatically weakening - besides Allen, there was Gilbert and Beulah - even Carla weakened substantially just before landfall. Compare that to the more recent trend of storms wrapping up dramatically just before landfall - Ike, Alex, Humberto, Dolly, Claudette, Alicia, Celia.... of course there is overlap when you reach back to Alicia and Celia which were before Gilbert (and Allen, in Celia's case) but it is something odd that I've noticed.

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Re: Hurricane Allen 1980 (30 years ago this week)

#10 Postby Cyclone1 » Fri Aug 06, 2010 8:33 am

StormClouds63 wrote:Ironically, both weakened to category 3 status prior to making landfall. Gilbert made landfall farther south than Allen.


Gilbert made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane in the Yucatan, and a Category 4 after crossing the Gulf.

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Re: Hurricane Allen 1980 (30 years ago this week)

#11 Postby Portastorm » Fri Aug 06, 2010 9:23 am

Actually, NHC had a period (perhaps as long as 24-36 hours) where they predicted Gilbert would make a northward turnand hit the middle Texas coast. I know because the forecast for my area (Austin) was a crazy one which had folks in a panic for a while as Gilbert was predicted to move over south central Texas still as a hurricane (downgraded a few levels of course).

Well, the turn never happened, thankfully for Texas. And yes, there was a private weather company who shall go unnamed who predicted a Galveston hit. That was quite the debacle!

StormClouds63 wrote:Allen (1980) and Gilbert (1988) are often compared since both reached category 5 status and were unusually large systems in terms of area. Ironically, both weakened to category 3 status prior to making landfall. Gilbert made landfall farther south than Allen.

Texans may remember that Gilbert's path was highly debated ... NHC proved right, but as I recall a private weather firm had Gilbert turning north toward Galveston.

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#12 Postby Stormcenter » Fri Aug 06, 2010 1:12 pm

Allen was large that New Orleans received significant squalls from it even though the center was many hundreds of miles from the LA. coastline.

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Re: Hurricane Allen 1980 (30 years ago this week)

#13 Postby Stormtrack » Fri Aug 06, 2010 7:12 pm

I remember Allen and that hot summer of 1980 quite well. It was supposed to recurve and at one time was predicted to end up on the upper Texas coast. It was so big and intense that for once just about everybody in Angleton, Tx where I live evacuated. I didn't, but only because my wife at the time everybody was leaving had a stomach virus and we sure didn't want to be on the road with that going on. We planned to leave when she got better but by that time it had become apparent that it wasn't coming our way. If I remember, it was a Cat 3 by the time it hit the lower Texas coast between Corpus Christi and the Valley. It's very sparsely populated there or it could have still done a lot of damage. It did cut some channels through Padre Island though and I think there was some tornado damage far inland.

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Re:

#14 Postby Ptarmigan » Fri Aug 06, 2010 9:10 pm

neospaceblue wrote:One thing that stands out to me in the database is that at one point, it had a pressure of 932 mbar with winds of 180-mph.


Strange. 932 millibars and 180 mph winds. Must of been in an area of really high ambient pressure. Allen was a very large hurricane.

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Re: Hurricane Allen 1980 (30 years ago this week)

#15 Postby Ptarmigan » Fri Aug 06, 2010 9:14 pm

StormClouds63 wrote:Allen (1980) and Gilbert (1988) are often compared since both reached category 5 status and were unusually large systems in terms of area. Ironically, both weakened to category 3 status prior to making landfall. Gilbert made landfall farther south than Allen.

Texans may remember that Gilbert's path was highly debated ... NHC proved right, but as I recall a private weather firm had Gilbert turning north toward Galveston.


I remember the Gilbert scare quite well and I was a kid. It was the biggest prior to Rita. It got me into weather. Had Gilbert hit Texas, it would likely be very catastrophic. :eek:


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