1980 Hurricane Season
season was an ongoing event in the annual cycle of tropical cyclone
formation. It officially started June 1, 1980, and lasted until November
The 1980 season was one of the most active seasons on record, with nine
storms reaching hurricane strength. However, most of the hurricanes that
did form remained at sea. Only three storms made landfall in 1980, two of
which were only tropical storms.
The most notable storm of 1980 was Hurricane
Allen. Allen was a powerful storm that traveled across the Caribbean
and the Gulf of Mexico at Category
4 strength or stronger, causing widespread damage.
Other damaging storms of the season include Tropical Storm Danielle,
which flooded the area of Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas; and Tropical Storm
Hermine, which was responsible for flooding in Mexico.
1980 storm names
The following names were used for named storms (tropical storms and
hurricanes) that formed in the North Atlantic in 1980.
The names not retired from this list were used again in the 1986
season. All of the names on the list were used for the first time,
except those predating the post-1978 naming scheme. Names that were not
assigned are marked in gray.
- Lisa (unused)
- Mitch (unused)
- Nicole (unused)
- Otto (unused)
- Paula (unused)
- Richard (unused)
- Shary (unused)
- Tomas (unused)
- Virginie (unused)
- Walter (unused)
The World Meteorological Organization retired one name in the spring of
1981: Allen. It was replaced in 1986 season by Andrew.
Main Article: Hurricane
Like most Atlantic hurricanes, Allen originated in a tropical wave that
moved off the coast of Africa. Allen reached tropical storm strength on
August 2, and on the 3rd moved between Barbados and St. Lucia as a
hurricane. Now in the Caribbean Sea, Allen passed just south of
Hispaniola, then continued west between Cuba and Jamaica.
Hurricane Allen stayed south of Cuba, and then passed through the
Yucatan Channel into the Gulf of Mexico. The center of Hurricane Allen
finally struck land in southern Texas near the border with Mexico. Allen
underwent a rapid drop in intensity just before its only landfall. This
decrease was described in hindsight by a National Weather Service
statement as "miraculous", and is considered responsible for
greatly reducing the number of fatalities in the United States.
Allen was one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes of record, and
reached Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale three times. When
the storm was passing south of Cuba, its wind field extended so far as to
cause gale force winds to be recorded in the Florida Keys on the far side
of Cuba. Allen is also the earliest storm on record to reach Category 5
intensity in the Atlantic basin; a strength it first attained on August 5.
Allen killed roughly 250 people, although estimates vary on the exact
number. Eighteen people were reported dead on St. Lucia, one on
Guadeloupe, two-hundred twenty in Haiti, eight in Jamaica, three in Cuba,
and two direct deaths were reported in the United States. Property damage
was estimated at over $1 billion (1980 US dollars), mostly to the US and
Bonnie formed mid-way between Cape Verde and the Windward Islands on
August 14. The storm moved almost due north, strengthening into a
hurricane. A companion tropical system formed near Bonnie, but never
exceeded depression strength. Bonnie continued north until it became
extratropical on August 19.
Hurricane Bonnie caused no known damage.
An extratropical storm moved off the Atlantic coast of the US on August
20. As it moved over the ocean, its circulation closed, and it took on
subtropical characteristics. It followed a looping path generally to the
east. On the 23rd, it reached hurricane strength and began moving almost
due east. It weakened, and was absorbed by an extratropical cyclone on
August 26. Charley caused no reported damage and did not affect land.
Tropical Storm Danielle
Danielle formed as a tropical depression off the coast of Louisiana on
September 4. As it moved west, it strengthened, reaching tropical storm
intensity on the 5th while just south of Cameron, Louisiana. It struck
land near Galveston, Texas a few hours later. It weakened over land, but
its circulation was tracked as far inland as Del Rio.
Wind and wave damage from Danielle was minimal to non-existent.
However, heavy rainfall caused flooding in the Beaumont-Port Arthur area.
The Beaumont airport recorded 17.16 inches (43.59 cm) of rain, setting a
new 24-hour record for that location.
Hurricane Earl was the first of a short series of Cape Verde-type
storms to form in early September. Earl became a named storm on September
6, although re-analysis showed that it actually reached tropical storm
strength on the 4th. Earl followed a curving path roughly centered on the
Azores. It reached hurricane strength on September 8, and weakened and had
become extratropical by the 10th.
Earl caused no reported damage to land or shipping.
A strong low pressure system moved off the African coast on September
5, and rapidly strengthened, reaching hurricane intensity by the 7th.
Frances moved slowly to the west, then its track curved north. It then
turned northeast and was absorbed by another low pressure system over the
north Atlantic on September 20.
Reports of strong tropical storm force winds were received from ships,
but no damage was reported except for minor squalls in Cape Verde.
Georges initially formed as a tropical depression over the central
Atlantic on September 1. This depression remained weak for the next
several days as it travelled west-northwest. Interaction with a
non-tropical low disrupted the depression and destroyed its circulation.
On September 5, a subtropical system began forming out of the depression's
remnants as they began turning to the northeast. The subtropical
depression strengthened and became tropical, finally becoming a named
storm on September 7 as it passed north of Bermuda. The tropical storm
intensified into a hurricane, one of few to do so north of 40° N. After
passing Cape Race, Georges lost its tropical characteristics over cold
water. Georges caused no known damage.
Tropical Storm Hermine
An African tropical wave that traversed the Atlantic Ocean organized
into a tropical storm off the coast of Honduras on September 21. After
grazing Honduras, a disorganized Tropical Storm Hermine made landfall just
north of Belize City on the 22nd. After crossing the Yucatan Peninsula,
Hermine briefly emerged over the Bay of Campeche where it restrengthened
before recurving back into the Mexican coast. The storm drifted inland and
dissipated on September 26.
Hermine caused fresh water flooding in Mexico, but no exact figures
were received by the National Hurricane Center. No reports on Honduras and
Belize were received by the NHC, but meteorologists stated that similar
flooding likely occurred there as well.
1980's Ivan was an unusual storm, forming from an extratropical system
that had been tracked off the coast of Portugal since late September. The
extratropical storm moved erratically southwest past the Azores, slowly
acquiring tropical characteristics. On October 4, the system became a
named tropical storm. Tropical Storm Ivan rapidly intensified to a
Category 2 hurricane, tracking first west-northwest, then sharply turning
to the northeast. Ivan merged with an extratropical system and a front on
Ivan's formation was unexpected, occurring over cold water and in a
portion of the Atlantic where tropical development is uncommon. The
hurricane caused no known damage, as the storm never affected land and no
ships experienced hurricane force winds.
Jeanne was another unusual storm, becoming one of a handful of November
hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and the first recorded to have reached
hurricane status while already in the Gulf. Jeanne began as a tropical
depression near the coast of Nicaragua on November 8. The depression
reached tropical storm strength the next day as it moved through the
Yucatan Channel. Jeanne turned westward over the central Gulf, and
strengthened into a hurricane. As the hurricane entered the western Gulf,
it weakened to a tropical storm. It meandered for several days until a
cold front moving off the Texas coast destroyed its circulation. The
systems merged on November 16.
Damage was limited to shipping, which was caught by surprise by the
late-season storm. Fringe effects of Hurricane Jeanne triggered a
record-breaking 23.28 inches (59.13 cm) of rain at Key West, Florida.
A large extratropical low formed off the southeastern coast of the
United States on November 21. The low moved away from the coast, and a
convective cloud mass began forming near the low's center. By November 25,
the cloud mass showed distinct signs of being a tropical system, and when
its intensity was estimated at hurricane strength, it was classified as
Hurricane Karl. Karl followed a curving cyclonic path, first east, then
north. It approached the Azores on the 27th, but did not approach close
enough to affect the islands. By November 28, Hurricane Karl had become
extratropical. No damage is associated with the storm.