A major hurricane decimated the Tampa Bay area 100 years ago. Here's what happened
On Oct. 25, 1921, one of the most destructive hurricanes that the Tampa Bay area experienced hit the region. The National Weather Service took a look back at the Category 3 storm.
A storm surge up to 11 feet. Winds estimated at 120 mph. Many power poles and trees knocked down, and widespread destruction across the region.
This is what the greater Tampa Bay region experienced when the most destructive hurricane since 1848 made landfall here 100 years ago.
That was on Oct. 25, 1921.
The National Weather Service built an interactive web page that documented the events that took place as the hurricane emerged off the eastern Central American coast earlier that week and moved northeast toward West Central Florida.
It eventually made landfall in Tarpon Springs as a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds estimated at 120 mph.
The weather service collected data from 1921, including archive photos showing the damage, and tracking maps — that may look crude by today’s advanced standards — which plotted the storm on its way to the region.
It even used that data to build an animated image that would show the storm’s path if meteorologists were tracking it today.
According to the weather service, here’s how the hurricane transpired and impacted the Tampa Bay area.
Downtown Tampa and Tarpon Springs experienced the highest storm surge during the hurricane. Here's the damage along what is now the Tampa Riverwalk, and how it looks today. You can view more then-and-now photos here.
The surge also caused ships to smash into docks and seawalls, which then led to more destruction or ships sinking.
Ybor City was another place that was hard hit as waves caused boats to smash into docks — with similar destruction occurring along the coast.
Structures closer to the coast suffered heavy damage as well.
The peak wind with the storm hit Tarpon Springs, causing roofs and windows to be damaged from houses and other structures.
The wind and storm surge even destroyed citrus crops.
The modern tools that are used now to predict hurricanes and their potential damage, such as satellites and radars, were not available a century ago and made forecasting difficult.
Sadly, there were eight confirmed deaths during the hurricane because of either drowning from the storm surge from those who lived or were near structures close to the coast, and of falling debris.
To see more pictures, videos and an explanations of the hurricane's aftermath, and to view model simulations of how the weather service would monitor the storm with its current tools, can click here.