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1969's Hurricane Camille Re-Analyzed a Bit Weaker

April 1, 2014

By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Andrew Rosenthal

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Thanks to recent revisions to the hurricane record, one of the strongest hurricanes to ever strike the United States has been downgraded slightly. Hurricane Camille, which slammed the Mississippi Coast as a Category 5 storm in 1969, has seen its winds lowered by 15 mph.

The reassessment is thanks to the National Hurricane Center`s Hurricane Re-Analysis Project, an annual task whose mission it is to expand the details of long-ago storms that lack much of the modern records. In addition to looking at known storms, the project has also found dozens of hurricanes and tropical storms previously missed because they never approached land or an ocean-bound ship.

Hurricane Camille came ashore at Pass Christian, Miss., on the Mississippi Coast, on August 17, 1969 as a Category 5 hurricane. It has been said that Camille was a stronger cousin of Hurricane Katrina. It killed 259 people, with 153 of the deaths occurring in Virginia from flooding and mudslides. The storm also caused the equivalent of $9.13 billion in damages.

These facts aside, the re-analysis decreased Camille`s intensity slightly. Instead of coming ashore with winds of 190 mph, the National Hurricane Center now believes that the monster hurricane "only" possessed winds of 175 mph. This is still a top-of-the-charts Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

However, this slight bump downward dropped Camille out of the gold-medal spot for hurricane strength at landfall. Taking its spot atop the charts was a 1935 hurricane that hit the Florida Keys with maximum sustained winds of 185 mph.

On the other side of the coin, one aspect of Hurricane Camille was boosted because of the re-analysis. Previously believed to contain a minimum central pressure of 909 mb, Camille`s pressure at landfall was lowered to 900 mb, still firmly in the second position all-time behind the 1935 storm (892 mb). Additionally, Camille was given an extra 18 hours of life, having organized earlier on August 14, 1969, than previously believed.

The Hurricane Re-Analysis project looks at historical records, newspaper accounts, and ship logs as well as using contemporary hurricane modeling to "modernize" the data from every season since 1851. Every spring since 2004, the Hurricane Center meteorologists tackle a decade of hurricane data as well as some of the more memorable recent storms, in hopes of creating an equivalent record.

Follow the 2014 Atlantic and eastern Pacific hurricane seasons with WeatherBug. Be sure to keep WeatherBug active to receive the latest weather in your neighborhood and get the latest updates anywhere on Twitter.

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Story Image: This picture of Hurricane Camille shows it as it approaches the Mississippi Coast (NOAA)

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