JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It was 125 years ago on Sept. 29, 1896, that the great “Cedar Keys Hurricane” blew through parts of Florida and the Southeast U.S.
The fast-moving Category 2-to-3 hurricane moved NE at nearly 25 mph to just west of Jacksonville.
The storm produced a period of sustained hurricane-force winds across NE Florida and SE Georgia, including sustained winds that measured 76 mph in Jacksonville.
The 76 mph sustained winds were something that never occurred during Hurricanes Matthew in 2016 or Irma in 2017.
The 1896 hurricane was born from an African tropical wave.
It moved through the Northern Caribbean and then turned sharply northward through the Yucatan Channel before accelerating and strengthening over the eastern Gulf of Mexico followed by the northwest Florida landfall in the early morning hours.
Damage across Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia was widespread and severe.
Al Sandrik, a warning coordinator for the National Weather Service of Jacksonville said, “Locally, there was tremendous damage to the trees and buildings across interior areas. In Jacksonville, the Union Train Station was under construction and the frame was blown down from an eye that was over Lake City at the time.”
Jacksonville donated food and clothing to the hardest-hit areas of Nassau, Baker, and Columbia County including Hilliard, Sanderson, and Lake City.
Even though a storm maintaining such intensity all the way through northeast Florida is rare, it does happen from time to time.
“These types of storms come along about every 25-or-30 years for a particular area. We know that the 1846 hurricane was very similar and we saw Charley in 2004,” Sandrik said.
The bottom line is, “People need to be aware that a storm coming from the Gulf of Mexico can still be dangerous for the Atlantic coast and the Jacksonville metropolitan area.”
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