Hurricane Audrey
Hurricane Audrey was the first major hurricane of the 1957 Atlantic hurricane season
1957 Atlantic hurricane season
The 1957 Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 15, 1957, and lasted until November 15, 1957. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. The season was below average, with eight total storms and just three...

. Audrey was the only storm to reach Category 4 status in June. A powerful hurricane, Audrey caused catastrophic damage across eastern Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 and western Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

. It then affected the South Central United States as a powerful extratropical storm. The heaviest rainfall directly from Audrey fell near the Gulf coast, though heavy rainfall across the Midwest was caused by its moisture flowing towards a weather front
Weather front
A weather front is a boundary separating two masses of air of different densities, and is the principal cause of meteorological phenomena. In surface weather analyses, fronts are depicted using various colored lines and symbols, depending on the type of front...

 to the north. In its wake, Audrey left $1 billion (2005 USD
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

) in damage and 431 fatalities. At the time period, the devastation from Hurricane Audrey was the worst since the Great New England Hurricane of 1938.

Meteorological history

A tropical wave moved across the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located in the tropics of the Western hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and southwest, to the north by the Greater Antilles, and to the east by the Lesser Antilles....

 where it became a tropical depression on June 25. The depression stalled in the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

 where it showed signs of rapid intensification. At 1800 UTC, the tropical depression became Hurricane Audrey. The fledgling storm was centered 380 miles (612 km) southeast of Brownsville, Texas
Brownsville, Texas
Brownsville is a city in the southernmost tip of the state of Texas, in the United States. It is located on the northern bank of the Rio Grande, directly north and across the border from Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Brownsville is the 16th largest city in the state of Texas with a population of...

. By June 26, the storm was already at Category 2 strength as it moved northeastward at 5 mph (8 km/h). Later, the storm's forward motion increased to 15 mph (24 km/h) as Audrey continued its north-northeasterly track. Hurricane Audrey then attained its peak maximum sustained wind
Maximum sustained wind
The maximum sustained winds associated with a tropical cyclone are a common indicator of the intensity of the storm. Within a mature tropical cyclone, they are found within the eyewall at a distance defined as the radius of maximum wind, or RMW. Unlike gusts, the value of these winds are...

s of 145 mph (230 km/h) and an estimated pressure of 946 mb before making landfall near the Texas/Louisiana border on June 27. After landfall, Audrey quickly weakened to a tropical storm as it moved over inland Louisiana. Audrey then transformed into a powerful extratropical storm as it crossed over Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

. The extratropical remnants of Audrey then merged with another low over the Ohio Valley. The extratropical storm then reached a low barometric pressure of 974 mb as it moved across southeastern Canada and was unidentifiable by June 29. No one knows how strong the hurricane really was. Some of the Audrey victims told reporters that winds in Audrey were of Category 5 hurricane intensity. The wind gauge broke at 180 miles per hour (289.7 km/h) at KPLC weather station in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The victims had no warning of the hurricane. They were told the storm was going to make landfall in 4 days, but Audrey picked up speed, and the very powerful hurricane hit that night instead.


The name Audrey was soon retired and will never be used again to name a hurricane. Because of this, it was the only use of the name Audrey for the Atlantic Basin. Hurricane Audrey left $147 million (1957 USD) in damage and at least 416 fatalities in the US, most in eastern Texas and western Louisiana. Audrey is ranked as the sixth deadliest hurricane to hit the United States mainland since accurate record-keeping began in 1900. No future hurricane caused as many fatalities in the United States until Katrina
Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was a powerful Atlantic hurricane. It is the costliest natural disaster, as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States. Among recorded Atlantic hurricanes, it was the sixth strongest overall...

 in 2005.

Gulf of Mexico

One mobile drilling rig sank, with four tenders suffering damage when pulled loose from their mooring and running aground. The damage from all offshore oil facilities totaled US$16 million (1957 dollars).

Texas and Louisiana

Before Audrey made landfall, several weather stations in eastern Texas reported winds up to 75 mph (121 km/h) before communications were lost. Later a weather station in Orange, Texas
Orange, Texas
Orange is a city in Orange County, Texas, United States. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 18,643. It is the county seat of Orange County, and is the easternmost city in Texas. Located on the Sabine River at the border with Louisiana, it is part of the Beaumont–Port Arthur...

 reported sustained wind speed of 100 mph (161 km/h). A storm surge
Storm surge
A storm surge is an offshore rise of water associated with a low pressure weather system, typically tropical cyclones and strong extratropical cyclones. Storm surges are caused primarily by high winds pushing on the ocean's surface. The wind causes the water to pile up higher than the ordinary sea...

 of 7 feet (2 meters) was also reported. The eye of Audrey made landfall south of Sabine Lake
Sabine Lake
200px | thumb | Sabine lake as seen from outer space.Sabine Lake is a salt water estuary on the Texas-Louisiana border. The lake, some long and wide, is formed by the confluence of the Neches River and Sabine River. Through its tidal outlet long, Sabine Pass, Sabine Lake drains some of Texas...

, traversed the lake and then passed over Bridge City, Texas
Bridge City, Texas
Bridge City is a city in Orange County, Texas, United States. The population was 8,651 at the 2000 census. The town borders the Neches River and Cow Bayou. It is part of the Beaumont–Port Arthur Metropolitan Statistical Area....

. In Port Arthur, Texas
Port Arthur, Texas
-Demographics:As of the 2000 census, there were 57,755 people, 21,839 households, and 14,675 families residing in the city. The population density was 696.5 people per square mile . There were 24,713 housing units at an average density of 298.0 per square mile...

, a barometric pressure of 966 hectopascals (28.5 inHg) was recorded while Beaumont, Texas
Beaumont, Texas
Beaumont is a city in and county seat of Jefferson County, Texas, United States, within the Beaumont–Port Arthur Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city's population was 118,296 at the 2010 census. With Port Arthur and Orange, it forms the Golden Triangle, a major industrial area on the...

 recorded a 971 hectopascals (28.7 inHg) pressure reading. Because eastern Texas was in the weaker side of the storm, there was only moderate damage. In Port Arthur, there was damage to trees and power lines and parts of Highway 87 was damaged. Offshore, nine people drowned when their boat sank during the storm. In Cameron, Louisiana
Cameron, Louisiana
Cameron is a census-designated place in and the parish seat of Cameron Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 1,965 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Lake Charles Metropolitan Statistical Area...

, waves as high as 10 feet (3 m) were reported offshore. In Lake Charles
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Lake Charles is the fifth-largest incorporated city in the U.S. state of Louisiana, located on Lake Charles, Prien Lake, and the Calcasieu River. Located in Calcasieu Parish, a major cultural, industrial, and educational center in the southwest region of the state, and one of the most important in...

, a storm tide of 7 feet was recorded while surges up to 12 feet (4 m) were reported in other locations. A 958 hectopascals (28.3 inHg) pressure reading was recorded in Hackberry
Hackberry, Louisiana
Hackberry is a census-designated place in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 1,699 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Lake Charles Metropolitan Statistical Area.-Geography:Hackberry is located at ....

, while the city of Sulphur
Sulphur, Louisiana
Sulphur is a city in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 22,512 at the 2000 census. Sulphur is a suburb of Lake Charles, and is part of the Lake Charles Metropolitan Statistical Area.-History:...

 recorded sustained winds of 105 mph (169 km/h). Damage in Louisiana was catastrophic; 60-80 percent of the homes and businesses from Cameron to Grand Chenier
Grand Chenier, Louisiana
Grand Chenier is an unincorporated community in Cameron Parish, Louisiana.-References:...

 were either destroyed or severely damaged.

The storm surge damage extended for 25 miles (40 km). Two tornadoes were reported as the storm made landfall, one near New Orleans and the other near Arnaudville
Arnaudville, Louisiana
Arnaudville is a town in St. Landry and St. Martin parishes in the U.S. state of Louisiana. The population was 1,398 at the 2000 census.The St. Martin Parish portion of Arnaudville is part of the Lafayette Metropolitan Statistical Area, while the St...

. In all, there were over 300 people killed in Louisiana, while 40,000 others were left homeless by the storm.

Rest of the United States and Canada

While moving inland, Audrey spawned 23 tornadoes which killed two people and injured 14 others in Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

 and Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

, while causing $600,000 (1957 USD) in damage. In the Midwest, the flow of moisture from Audrey intersected a weather front to its north, causing a predecessor rainfall event with a swath of 5 inches (127 mm) to 11 inches (279.4 mm) of rain from central Missouri east-northeast across central Illinois and central Indiana. The 10.2 inches (259.1 mm) of rain that fell in Paris, Illinois
Paris, Illinois
Paris is a city in Paris Township, Edgar County, Illinois, USA, south of Chicago, and west of Indianapolis. In 1900, 6,105 people lived in Paris, Illinois; in 1910, 7,664; and in 1940, 9,281. The population was 8,837 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Edgar County.-Geography:Paris is...

 led to a monthly preciptation record for June of 17.65 inches (448.3 mm) and their wettest year on record with a total of 61.59 inches (1,564.4 mm). It also flooded the entire town. The storm dropped huge amounts of rain that caused significant flooding, leaving 10 fatalities. In Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, the storm produced 65 mph (105 km/h) sustained winds while winds of 95-100 mph (153–161 km/h) were reported in New York. In Canada, winds up to 80 mph (129 km/h) were reported and there were 15 fatalities.

Records and strength

Audrey remains the earliest storm of any Atlantic hurricane season to reach Category 4 intensity in the recorded history of the basin. Audrey attained Category 4 strength on June 27. At the time, Audrey was the strongest storm to form prior to August. It held this record for nearly fifty years before Hurricane Dennis
Hurricane Dennis
Hurricane Dennis was an early-forming major hurricane in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico during the very active 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. Dennis was the fourth named storm, second hurricane, and first major hurricane of the season...

 broke it in 2005 (which was itself broken only nine days later by Hurricane Emily
Hurricane Emily (2005)
Hurricane Emily was a powerful, early season tropical cyclone that caused significant damage across the Caribbean Sea to Mexico. A Cape Verde-type hurricane, the storm formed on July 10, 2005, in the central Atlantic Ocean before passing through the Windward Islands on July 14...

 which became a category 5). It remains the strongest storm ever to form in June. It was also the second of three major hurricanes to occur in the month of June (the last one before it being a Category 3 in 1945, and the next and final one would be Hurricane Alma in 1966).

The strength of Hurricane Audrey was disputed during its meteorological history. Several calculations suggested that the pressure in the storm dropped to 938 mb while other calculations put it at 940 mb. In addition, the peak wind speed of Audrey varied from 140 mph to 150 mph (225–240 km/h). An oil rig offshore claims to have recorded a reading of 925 millibars and a wind speed of 180 mph (290 km/h), but this is disputed by authorities.

See also

External links

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