One of the worst hurricanes to ever hit the U.S. slammed into the Gulf Coast 53 years ago.
Hurricane Camille was a monster Category 5 storm when it crashed ashore on the night of Aug. 17, 1969, near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, with winds estimated to be more than 170 mph.
Camille’s howling winds destroyed recording instruments in the path, so the peak winds could not be recorded at the time. However, according to the National Weather Service office in Mobile, Alabama, a reanalysis of data from the storm found that maximum winds of about 175 mph were likely.
The powerful winds pushed more than 24 feet of storm surge inland. According to the NWS, most of the property damage along the immediate coast was caused by the high water.
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Even after moving inland, Camille continued to cause damage with flooding rains. Record amounts of rain were reported along the path that stretched from Mississippi to the Delmarva Peninsula. The highest total along that path was recorded in mountainous regions of Virginia, where upwards of 2 feet of rain fell in about 12 hours.
Camille killed more than 250 people and caused an estimated $1.42 billion in damage. That equates to about $10 billion in today’s money.
What Hurricane Camille looked like
Radar images in 1969 weren’t anything like what people are accustomed to seeing now. During the reanalysis of Hurricane Camille, the American Meteorological Society was able to reconstruct a radar loop of the storm as it made landfall.
Satellite images, too, were nothing like what is seen nowadays. FOX Weather hurricane specialist Bryan Norcross helped assemble this satellite loop of Hurricane Camille based on NASA satellite images.
Hurricane Camille among most-intense hurricanes to ever hit US
With a minimum central pressure of 900 millibars and estimated winds of 175 mph, Hurricane Camille still ranks as the second most-intense hurricane to ever hit the U.S.
It is also one of only four Category 5 hurricanes to make landfall in the U.S. The other three are the 1935 Labor Day hurricane, Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and Hurricane Michael in 2018.
The name Camille was retired after the 1969 hurricane season, meaning it will never again be used as a name for a tropical system.
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