CORRECTION/CLARIFICATION: UNPUBLISHED CORRECTION: Because of an editing error, a headline in The Palm Beach Post June 4 incorrectly said “IRENE THE LAST HURRICANE TO HIT COUNTY.” In fact, the last hurricane to officially strike Palm Beach County was David in 1979. When Irene came across Palm Beach County in 1999, it had hurricane-force winds, but they stayed offshore, so the National Hurricane Center does not consider it to have officially struck Palm Beach County. The error appeared in the “Post Times” column on Page 13 in the Neighborhood Post section.
Readers: It’s hurricane season, and I’ll spend the next three weeks on the subject.
Q: What was the last hurricane to strike Palm Beach County?
A: When Irene came across Palm Beach County in 1999, it had hurricane winds, but they stayed offshore. David, which ruined the 1979 Labor Day weekend, officially had winds just below hurricane strength, but
meteorologists estimate some parts of the county did get hurricane-force winds.
David had hit the Dominican Republic capital of Santo Domingo with sustained winds of up to 125 mph, killing 1,200 to 2,000. In Florida, about 300,000 would flee, with 78,000 of them going to shelters.
The storm caused an estimated $28.5 million (in 1979 dollars) in damage to sugar, citrus and vegetable crops statewide. Palm Beach County reported an overall damage totaling $30 million.
Store windows blew out and boats sank. Docks and piers fell into the water. The frame of the Palm Beach Jai Alai fronton, under repair after a December 1978 fire, blew down. On downtown West Palm Beach’s Flagler Drive, the 186-foot WJNO-AM radio tower was tossed into the Intracoastal Waterway. On the Treasure Coast, David flooded most coastal roads and tore off some roofs. It is blamed for at least 16 deaths nationwide, five of which were in Florida.
National Hurricane Center: www.nhc.noaa.gov
Read More: Florida’s Hurricane History, by Jay Barnes.