Hurricane Fox (1952)

Hurricane Fox was the strongest and deadliest tropical cyclone of the below average 1952 Atlantic hurricane season. The seventh tropical storm, sixth Atlantic hurricane, and the third major hurricane of the season, Fox was a small and intense Caribbean storm that developed northwest of Cartagena, Colombia, in the southern Caribbean. It moved steadily northwest, intensifying to a tropical storm on October 21. The next day, it rapidly strengthened into a hurricane and turned north passing closely to Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.[1] The cyclone attained peak winds of 145 mph (230 km/h) as it struck Cayo Guano del Este off the coast of Cienfuegos. Fox made landfall on Cuba at maximum intensity, producing peak gusts of 170–180 mph (275–290 km/h). It weakened over land, but it re-strengthened as it turned east over the Bahamas. On October 26, it weakened and took an erratic path, dissipating west-southwest of Bermuda on October 28.

Hurricane Fox
Category 4 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Fox 1952-10-25 weather map.jpg
October 25, 1952 weather map, featuring Hurricane Fox
FormedOctober 20, 1952
DissipatedOctober 28, 1952
Highest winds1-minute sustained: 145 mph (230 km/h)
Lowest pressure934 mbar (hPa); 27.58 inHg
Damage$10 million (1952 USD)
Areas affectedCayman Islands, Cuba, southeast Florida, the Bahamas
Part of the 1952 Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane Fox was the second most intense hurricane to strike Cuba until Hurricane Michelle in the 2001 Atlantic hurricane season. It was originally believed to have been the second Category 4 hurricane in Cuba prior to the Atlantic hurricane reanalysis. At the time, the cyclone produced the fourth lowest pressure in a landfalling Cuban hurricane; only the 1917, 1924, and 1932 hurricanes were more intense. Hurricane Irma would later join that list in 2017. Hurricane Fox killed 600 people across the island, causing severe crop damages in rural areas. The hurricane also ruined 30 percent of the tomato crops on Eleuthera in the Bahamas. Across the archipelago, Fox produced wind gusts in excess of 110 mph (175 km/h). Total damages reached $10 million in Cuba. Fox was the second hurricane to land during the season, after Hurricane Able struck South Carolina.[2]

Meteorological historyEdit

Map plotting the storm's track and intensity, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale
Map key
  Tropical depression (≤38 mph, ≤62 km/h)
  Tropical storm (39–73 mph, 63–118 km/h)
  Category 1 (74–95 mph, 119–153 km/h)
  Category 2 (96–110 mph, 154–177 km/h)
  Category 3 (111–129 mph, 178–208 km/h)
  Category 4 (130–156 mph, 209–251 km/h)
  Category 5 (≥157 mph, ≥252 km/h)
Storm type
  Extratropical cyclone / Remnant low / Tropical disturbance / Monsoon depression

On October 20, a tropical depression formed in the Caribbean Sea, 170 miles (270 km) northwest of Cartagena, Colombia.[3] Fox is believed to have developed from a low-pressure area in the Intertropical Convergence Zone, though it was not operationally detected until October 21.[2] The system steadily advanced northwest and it gradually intensified. On October 21, a reconnaissance mission flew into the system, reporting sustained winds of 35 mph (55 km/h) and gusts to 55 mph (90 km/h).[4] At the time, the system is estimated to have strengthened to Tropical Storm Fox.[3] The cyclone continued to deepen, and it reached the equivalent of a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir–Simpson scale, 120 miles (200 km) southeast of the Swan Islands, Honduras.[3] The hurricane rapidly intensified and turned north on October 23, strengthening to attain winds which correspond to a modern-day major hurricane, a storm of Category 3 status or higher on the Saffir–Simpson scale. The Hurricane passed closely to Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.[1] Late on October 24, the cyclone struck the small island of Cayo Guano del Estes in the Archipelago de los Canarreos, south of Cienfuegos.[2] Maximum sustained winds were near 145 mph (230 km/h),[3] and the island's weather station recorded a minimum pressure of 934 mbar (27.59 inHg).[2] The cyclone crossed the mainland coast of Cuba west of Cienfuegos,[2] and it weakened as it crossed the island.[3]

Early on October 25, Hurricane Fox entered the Atlantic Ocean.[3] It crossed central Andros and turned east across the Bahamas.[3] On October 26, the hurricane briefly re-intensified[3] as it crossed Cat Island.[5] The center became ill-defined,[5] and the cyclone quickly weakened.[3] It turned north and then took an erratic northeast turn as it weakened to a tropical storm on October 27.[3] The system gained extratropical characteristics as it merged with a polar frontal boundary,[2] and it dissipated west-southwest of Bermuda on October 28.[3]


Advisories, along with coordination between the National Observatory at Havana and U.S. Weather Bureau, were credited for the reduced deaths in Cuba. Weather observations were also readily available from Cuban meteorological stations.[2] On October 25, the cyclone's hurricane-force winds were expected to remain off the Florida east coast, although gale-force winds were anticipated from the Florida Keys to Palm Beach, Florida. Accordingly, storm warnings were issued from Key West, Florida to Vero Beach, Florida.[6] Military aircraft were transported to safer locations, while watercraft were stored in harbors and rivers.[6] Hotels and resorts were boarded up on the barrier islands.[7] The Bahamas received warnings well in advance of the hurricane.[8] The hurricane turned quickly to the east, which reduced the threat to Bimini, Cat Cay, Grand Bahama, and the Abaco Islands.[9]


Wettest tropical cyclones and their remnants in Haiti
Highest-known totals
Precipitation Storm Location Ref.
Rank mm in
1 1,447.8 57.00 Flora 1963 Miragoâne [10]
2 654.8 25.78 Noel 2007 Camp Perrin [11]
3 604.5 23.80 Matthew 2016 Anse-á-Veau [12]
4 410.0 16.14 Lili 2002 Camp Perrin [13]
5 323.0 12.72 Hanna 2008 Camp Perrin [14]
6 273.0 10.75 Gustav 2008 Camp Perrin [15]
7 168.0 6.614 Laura 2020 Port-Au-Prince [16]
8 65.0 2.56 Fox 1952 Ouanaminthe [17]
Storm total rainfall related to Hurricane Fox

An aircraft flight into the storm experienced severe turbulence, and wind driven rain reportedly stripped paint from the plane's surfaces.[2]

As a result of the storm, 70 people were injured in Cuba. Severe damage to properties and crops occurred in rural areas.[2][18] In Zulueta, 30 structures were destroyed, while a Japanese freighter was washed ashore on the reefs near Cayo Breton. The crew survived,[19] though another ship was disabled during the storm.[18] The fringes of the storm produced heavy rainfall in Cuba, flooding low areas and causing several rivers to overflow their banks.[19] Strong winds uprooted large trees in Santa Isabel, and winds of 100 mph (155 km/h) were reported in the city of Cienfuegos.[19] In Aguada de Pasajeros, 600 buildings were demolished, while 36 of 261 sugar mills across the island were damaged by Hurricane Fox.[2] In all, Hurricane Fox killed 600 people[20] in Cuba and caused $10 million in damages.[21]

The cyclone produced peak winds of 50 mph (85 km/h) in Nassau, Bahamas, causing no reported damage.[9] Crops were damaged by high winds and heavy precipitation on Eleuthera. About 30 percent of the tomato crops were destroyed during the storm.[2] A man who attempted to secretly seed and weaken the storm was missing and presumed dead after his plane disappeared off Miami, Florida. Multiple searches by the Coast Guard were unsuccessful.[22][23]

In the early 1950s, Atlantic tropical cyclones were named via the Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet. Hurricane Fox of 1952 was the final Atlantic tropical cyclone to be designated with this naming system, and a female list of tropical cyclone names was utilized in the 1953 Atlantic hurricane season.[24] After the stronger 1917 Pinar del Río hurricane, Hurricane Fox was Cuba's second most intense landfall until Hurricane Michelle struck the island in 2001.[3] Originally, the 1917 hurricane was believed to have been a Category 3 hurricane prior to the Atlantic hurricane reanalysis, which made Fox the second Category 4 landfall after the 1932 Cuba Hurricane.[25] At the time, Fox was the fourth most intense hurricane to strike Cuba in terms of atmospheric pressure; only the 1917, 1924, and 1932 storms were stronger at one point in their life spans.[26]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Documentation of Atlantic Tropical Cyclones Changes in HURDAt". Archived from the original on 17 August 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Norton, Grady (1952). "Hurricanes of 1952" (PDF). U.S. Weather Bureau. Retrieved 2008-03-22.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Hurricane Research Division (2008). "Atlantic hurricane best track". NOAA. Retrieved 2008-03-22.
  4. ^ "Suspicious Area in Caribbean is Probed by Plane". The Palm Beach Times. Vol. 31, no. 37. West Palm Beach, Florida. Associated Press. October 22, 1952. p. 1. Retrieved March 4, 2020 – via
  5. ^ a b "Hurricane Losing Force". The Daily Record. The Associated Press. 1952. Retrieved 2008-03-22.[dead link]
  6. ^ a b "Northeast Storm Warnings Up Here". Miami Daily News. No. 57. Miami, Florida. October 24, 1952. p. 1. Retrieved March 4, 2020 – via
  7. ^ Lebanon Daily News (1952). "Hurricane Cuts Across Cuba; Bahamas Next". Retrieved 2008-03-22.[dead link]
  8. ^ Charleston Daily Mail (1952). "Bahamas Storm". Retrieved 2008-03-22.[dead link]
  9. ^ a b "Hurricane Shuns Florida, Whirls at Bahama Isles". Panama City News-Herald. The Associated Press. 1952. Retrieved 2008-03-22.[dead link]
  10. ^ Dunn, Gordon E; Moore, Paul L; Clark, Gilbert B; Frank, Neil L; Hill, Elbert C; Kraft, Raymond H; Sugg, Arnold L (1964). "The Hurricane Season of 1963" (PDF). Monthly Weather Review. American Meteorological Society. 92 (3): 136. Bibcode:1964MWRv...92..128D. doi:10.1175/1520-0493-92.3.128. ISSN 0027-0644. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 9, 2012. Retrieved May 13, 2012.
  11. ^ Brown, Daniel P (December 17, 2007). Tropical Cyclone Report: Hurricane Noel (PDF) (Report). United States National Hurricane Center. p. 4. Archived from the original on June 9, 2012. Retrieved June 1, 2012.
  12. ^ Stewart, Stacy R (April 3, 2017). Tropical Cyclone Report: Hurricane Matthew (PDF) (Report). United States National Hurricane Center. p. 4. Archived from the original on June 9, 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  13. ^ Finnigan, Sean (October 4, 2002). Hurricane Lili almost drowns Camp-Perin, Haiti (PDF) (Report). Organisation for the Rehabilitation of the Environment. p. 1. Archived from the original on June 9, 2012. Retrieved June 9, 2012.
  14. ^ Brown, Daniel P; Kimberlain, Todd B (March 27, 2009). Tropical Cyclone Report: Hurricane Hanna (PDF) (Report). United States National Hurricane Center. Archived from the original on June 9, 2012. Retrieved June 1, 2012.
  15. ^ Beven II, John L; Kimberlain, Todd B (January 22, 2009). Tropical Cyclone Report: Hurricane Gustav (PDF) (Report). United States National Hurricane Center. p. 4. Archived from the original on June 9, 2012. Retrieved June 1, 2012.
  16. ^ Jeff Masters and Bob Henson (August 24, 2020). "Laura expected to hit Gulf Coast as at least a Category 2 hurricane". Yale Climate Connections. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  17. ^ Roth, David M. (October 18, 2017). "Tropical Cyclone Point Maxima". Tropical Cyclone Rainfall Data. United States Weather Prediction Center. Retrieved November 26, 2017.
  18. ^ a b "Hurricane Veers Off Florida Coast Towards Bimini". Fort Myers-Press. Fort Myers, Florida. Associated Press. October 25, 1952. p. 1. Retrieved March 4, 2020 – via
  19. ^ a b c "Florida Braces as Winds Sweep Out Into Gulf". San Antonio Express. The Associated Press. 1952. Retrieved 2008-03-22.[dead link]
  20. ^ "The Deadliest Atlantic Tropical Cyclones, 1492-1996". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 3 December 2017.
  21. ^ Landsea, Cristopher Landsea (2003). "Hurricane Vulnerability in Latin America and the Caribbean" (PDF). NOAA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-11-19. Retrieved 2008-03-22.
  22. ^ "Norman Pilot May be Victim of Hurricane". The Ada Evening News. The Associated Press. 1952. Retrieved 2008-03-22.[dead link]
  23. ^ "Failure Marks Try to Seed Hurricane". Nevada State Journal. The Associated Press. 1952. Retrieved 2008-03-22.[dead link]
  24. ^ National Hurricane Center. "Worldwide Tropical Cyclone Names". NOAA. Archived from the original on 2010-12-07. Retrieved 2008-03-22.
  25. ^ Hurricane Research Division (2008). "HURDAT Meta-Data". NOAA. Retrieved 2008-02-26.
  26. ^ Partagas, Jose Fernandez (1993). "Impact on Hurricane History of a Revised Lowest Pressure at Havana (Cuba) During the October 11, 1846 Hurricane" (PDF). NOAA. Retrieved 2008-02-26.