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This Day in Georgia History

August 27, 1893

Hurricane 1893

On the evening of Aug. 27, a major hurricane hit Georgia’s southern coast. The path of the hurricane then traveled northward along the coast, with storm surges and tides submerging many of Georgia’s barrier islands - which led to it being called the “Sea Islands Hurricane.”. The center of the hurricane hit Savannah and Charleston the next day. In Charleston alone, more than 1,000 people drowned as a result of a tidal surge. Left in the wake of the storm in Georgia and South Carolina were up to 2,000 dead and more than 30,000 homeless. Gov. William Northen called Clara Barton and the Red Cross for help. Based on his historical research on the impact of hurricanes that have hit the coasts of Georgia and northeast Florida, Al Sandrik, a senior forecaster and meteorologist at the National Weather Service, had this to say about the Aug. 27, 1893, hurricane:

“The hurricane was a true Cape Verde type hurricane which may be tracked back to the African coast on the 15th of August. The storm made landfall as a major hurricane southwest of Tybee Island and was in the process of recurving toward the north as it did so. The storm passed a bit to the east of Jekyll and St. Simons Islands, placing them on the weaker western side. The minimum sea level pressure recorded at Savannah was 28.36 inches or 960.3 mb. Frances Ho produced a re-evaluation of the extreme hurricanes of the 19th century back in 1989 and estimated a central pressure of 27.50 inches or 931 mb at landfall. Put into 20th century terms this would have tied for the 7th most intense hurricane to strike the United States in the 20th century. “Put in more human terms it was of equal intensity to the Galveston Hurricane of Sept 1900 (which is now estimated to have been the 2nd most deadly storm in the Atlantic Basin in the last 500 years and killed between 8,000 and 12,000 people). The death toll associated with the 1893 storm is likely the 20th most deadly storm of the past 500 years. “In terms of deaths, the greatest disasters in American history would rank about as follows: Sep. 8, 1900 Galveston Hurricane 8,000 - 12,000, Oct. 13, 1893 Louisiana Hurricane 2,000, Aug. 27-28, 1893 Ga.- S.C. Hurricane 1,000 - 2,500, Sep. 16, 1928 Lake Okeechobee Hurricane 1,836, Oct. 8, 1870 Peshtigo Fires (Wisconsin) 1,200, Aug. 27, 1881 Georgia Hurricane 700. The greatest disasters by far have been related to Tropical Cyclones and TWO of those occurred along the upper Georgia coast!”

Note: These statistics were compiled before Hurricane Katrina.