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Canadian Tropical Cyclone Season Summary for 1966

1966 Storm Tracks Image
1966 Storm Tracks Image

Hurricane Alma (June 4 to June 14, 1966)

Alma originated as a tropical depression over the Gulf of Honduras on June 5, 1966. Heavy rains had been occurring over Central America for several days. On the evening of the 5th, the town of San Rafael, Honduras, reported 76 centimetres of rain, resulting in 73 deaths and virtually destroying the town. These heavy rains and subsequent tragedy were attributed to Alma, because it probably would not have occurred had the synoptic feature not existed.

By June 6, Alma had intensified to hurricane strength. Alma moved slowly during the 7th but was accelerating and threatening western Cuba by early morning of the 8th. The hurricane passed over the Isle of Pines, and winds reached 177 kilometres per hour (95 knots) in Havana. The hurricane passed between Dry Tortugas and Key West and moved over the water in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico the next morning. Some weakening occurred in Alma just before landfall in the Apalachee Bay area. Alma’s track through the eastern Gulf of Mexico was generally a little west of due north and the hurricane took a slight turn away from the Tampa Bay areas, which allowed the centre to move almost parallel to the Florida west coast. Hurricane force winds decreased to gales over northern Florida and southern Georgia but the storm regained hurricane status for about 18 hours off Cape Hatteras. Cold waters north of this area and colder and drier air from the mainland finally reduced Alma to an extratropical storm about midday on June 13.

There were nine tornadoes associated with the hurricane although some of these were only funnel clouds or waterspouts.

Hurricane Becky (July 1 to July 3, 1966)

Becky developed at an unusually high latitude. The initial depression appeared some 480 kilometres southeast of Bermuda on July 1, 1966. The system moved northeastward and intensified to storm strength by early the next day. By the 3rd, Becky was a hurricane that was moving to the northwest. As it moved over the colder waters south of Newfoundland it rapidly weakened and lost its tropical characteristics.

Becky did not strike any land area and there were no reported casualties or losses to shipping.

Hurricane Celia (July 13 to July 22, 1966)

Celia formed some 320 kilometres northeast of the Leeward Islands on July 13, 1966. The storm moved first toward the northwest, then on a west-northwesterly course with little change in intensity through July 14. There were no significant effects in the Lesser Antilles during the passage of the storm to the north. Intensification proceeded rapidly and on the morning of the 20th, winds reached 128 kilometres per hour (69 knots) and a central pressure of 997 millibars was observed. The hurricane maintained this intensity as it raced north-northeastward in advance of a frontal trough moving off the eastern coast of the United States.

Celia finally began to weaken and lose tropical characteristics just before reaching western Newfoundland where it moved inland on the afternoon of July 21, accompanied by squalls of 72 kilometres per hour (39 knots), then continued northward to merge with the frontal system over Labrador.

No casualties or damages were reported in connection with Celia.

Hurricane Faith (August 21 to September 7, 1966)

Faith maintained hurricane intensity for a period of 15 days while traveling a complicated route around the southern, western and northern perimeter of the Bermuda high pressure system. The entire track of Faith represents one of the longest hurricane tracks on record. The centre of the hurricane passed within 40 kilometres of St. Maarten, Leeward Islands. There were gale force winds in the northern islands of the Leewards, the Virgin Islands, and along the northern coast of Puerto Rico but only minor damage was reported. Prior to reaching Scandinavia, Faith passed over the Faeroe Islands. There was no known loss of life on the Islands or in Scandinavia and only minor damage was reported, similar to the usual autumn storms.

Hurricane Faith is, however, held accountable for the loss of one crewman’s life when high seas battered the Alberto Benati in the western Atlantic, one person’s life who was missing and assumed drowned off the coast of Denmark, and for the lives of two men who were attempting to cross the Atlantic in a rowboat.