Pat Shingleton: "Labor Day Weather Events..."
It was a compact and intense hurricane that caused extreme damage in the upper Florida Keys and a storm surge of approximately 18 to 20 feet. As noted in a previous Weather News, its winds leveled most of the buildings in the Islamorada area as numerous World War I veterans were killed by the storm surge while building the Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railroad. Prior to the naming of storms this was known as the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. Labor Day, 2008 in Baton Rouge may also be remembered as Hurricane Gustav laid waste to our city and surrounding area. A peak wind gust of 91 miles per hour put Gustav as the worst hurricane ever in this city’s history, surpassing Hurricane Betsy. From those storms to lighting storms...Saturday's Notre Dame game in South Bend was delayed due to lightning. Since the advancements of Lightning Prediction Systems, numerous football games have been delayed, postponed and cancelled. Florida leads the nation in lightning hits with Louisiana a close second. On September 7, 1970, a lightning bolt struck a group of football players at Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg, killing two and injuring 22. Lightning takes its victims one or two at a time as all 38 players and 4 coaches were knocked off their feet. In 2011, a Notre Dame student, videotaping football practice, was killed when a wind-gust collapsed an extension lift. Since 2001, colleges and universities are required to monitor weather events for those on the field, in the stands and outside the stadiums. Finally, in scanning the weather archives we present some unusual weather events for early September. It was a dark day for the first Monday in September in 1881 in New England. Only 10% of available sunlight was found that day as smoke from fires in Michigan, New York, and Ontario closed schools and businesses. On September 4, 1910, forest fires in northern Idaho and Washington burnt three million acres of land and killed 82 people, 72 were firefighters. Ships at sea were lost when the smoke drifted into the ocean. September 5, 1933 found a hurricane making landfall north of Brownsville, TX. with 106 M.P.H. winds. Drifting citrus clogged area roads with reports of floating houses for ten miles. Due to the salty storm surge farmland to this day is still unusable. A pilot suffered singed hair and a burnt hat when lightning struck his seaplane flying between St. Nazaire and Marseilles, France on September 8, 1938.