Circa 1938, Coast Guard aircraft were used to drop warning messages to sponge fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida’s west coast. Credit: NWS wea01803
Forty years ago tonight, or early tomorrow morning, Hurricane Camille made landfall near Bay St. Louis on the coast of Mississippi. It was one of only three 20th century hurricanes to be classified as Category 5 when it hit land.
The images for this post are from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Photo Library’s National Weather Service (NWS) Collection’s album, Meteorological Monsters.
What does a hurricane look like? Its radar image is distinct and recognizable, and some of the images in this album are screenshots of radar data. Here, for example, are screenshots of Camille and 2005’s Katrina from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center:
But as the hurricane is going on, taking a picture that is readily identifiable as “hurricane” isn’t so easy. More telling are the aftermath pictures, ones showing widespread devastation or ones proving the bizarre and awesome strength of these storms, like these:
Above and left: Hurricane Andrew, Miami, 1992 . A piece of plywood and a 1 X 4 board driven through the trunks of royal palm trees. Credits: NWS wea00544, wea00546
Right: September 13, 1928, Puerto Rico: 10-foot 2 X 4 driven through a palm tree. Credit: NWS wea00405
In Mississippi, the casinos are on barges in the Gulf. What you see in the foreground of this picture is the white sand of the coast. Then Highway 90, the main east-west highway along the Gulf Coast. And then, beyond the beach and beyond the highway, the largest of two barges from Biloxi Grand Hotel, run aground where Katrina moved it. The big blue moving van in the left corner gives an indication of the size — and weight– of this barge.
Photographer/Credit: Lieut. Commander Mark Moran, NOAA Corps, NMAO/AOC [NWS wea02523]
These sets of before and after shots give an idea of the aftermath of Hurricane Camille. This is Trinity Episcopal Church, built in 1849, Pass Christian, Mississippi, photographed in the 1960s (credit: NWS wea00436) before Camille:
— and after (credit: NWS wea00437):
Isn’t it strange how the one tree seems unscathed?
Another example: This historic Mississippi home was photographed during the summer of 1969, prior to its planned September opening as Episcopal High School (credit: NWS wea00422):
Camille took all but its front steps (credit: NWS wea00423):