98 years later: Looking back at Tampa Bay’s 1921 hurricane

Pinellas County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Oct. 25 marks the 98th anniversary of the Tampa Bay 1921 hurricane that made landfall in Tarpon Springs.

The storm made landfall as a major hurricane. Winds were estimated at Category 3 strength at landfall, well over 100 mph. The instruments to measure wind speeds, pressure and rainfall were far and few between, so many measurements are estimates.

Many estimates are also based off of nearby ships in the Gulf of Mexico.

The 1921 hurricane marked the latest date a major hurricane made landfall in the United States since records began in 1851. That record still stands to this day.

There were eight confirmed fatalities due to the 1921 hurricane. Most of them were due to drowning near the coastline. With limited technology and forecasts, there was little warning for people to prepare or leave.

Storm surge heights were estimated at 11 feet near Tarpon Springs and along Bayshore. The water destroyed much of the sea wall and inundated many areas almost to the streets of Ybor.

Structures were reduced to rubble due to powerful winds as well. The storm destroyed entire crop fields and impacted the citrus industry.

Despite old folklore and tales, Tampa Bay is not completely safe from major storms. A major hurricane has made landfall here before and one will likely again the future.

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