The Great Gale of '48
I was on the phone with Florida historian Canter Brown back in April and he mentioned something he'd written about the hurricane that hit Tampa in 1848 and I asked if he could send it my way. It's called "The most terrible gale ever known" and ran in the Sunland Tribune in 1998 to mark the 150th anniversary of the storm. Here's the first paragraph:
Having weathered yet another hurricane season, Tampa Bay area residents have breathed sighs of relief that, unfortunately, may mask the very real danger of future calamity. While fears of what commentators often describe as a "hundred year" storm occassionally assert themselves in headlines and into public discourse, our tendency has been to believe that it could not happen to us. The fact is that it has happened, and that should disturb us. One hundred fifty years ago raging winds, piercing rains, and rising tides lashed the region to a degree almost beyond modern understanding. One survivor, still stunned by the storm's ferocity one month later, summed up the experience so painfully endured by many. "Everywhere may be seen the same destruction," she bemoaned, "and could you see it you might well say, 'Tampa is no more.' "
The population of Tampa at the time was 49,800 people less than the 50,000 visitors expected to be here next week. It was a Cat 3.