The Sitka Hurricane of October 1880



This study reconstructed a unique and previously poorly understood storm known as the October 1880 Sitka Alaska Hurricane. Data were comprised of daily instrumental records from military posts, exploration surveys, and ship logbooks, as well verbal descriptions from diaries. Hourly pressure data from the USS Jamestown were corrected for elevation, latitude, and gravity, and a meteogram was constructed to assess the specific storm impact at Sitka. Pressure records reveal that the Sitka hurricane is clearly a very abnormal weather event, likely one of the strongest storms ever to strike western North America in the historical period. The plotting of data indicates that the storm track originated off Eastern Siberia and had no associations with any possible typhoon from the western Pacific Ocean.


Sitka Alaska Logbooks USS Jamestown 



We gratefully acknowledge help from the staff at the United States National Archives in Washington, DC, the Smithsonian Institution, and the New Bedford Whaling Museum Library. We also thank Mike Chenoweth for insightful discussions. Some funding for archival research was supported by NSF Grant ATM-0502105.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA

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