Hurricane Audrey

Hurricane Audrey was the first major hurricane of the 1957 Atlantic hurricane season.

Audrey was the only storm to reach Category 4 status in June. A powerful hurricane, Audrey caused catastrophic damage across eastern Texas and western Louisiana. It then affected the South Central United States as a powerful extratropical storm. The heaviest rainfall directly from Audrey fell near the Gulf coast, though heavy rainfall across the Midwest was caused by its moisture flowing towards a weather front to the north. In its wake, Audrey left $1 billion (2005 USD) in damage and 416 fatalities. At the time period, the devastation from Hurricane Audrey was the worst since the Great New England Hurricane of 1938.

A hurricane watch is declared for the Texas and Louisiana coastlines as a tropical depression from the Gulf of Mexico heads toward the United States. The storm quickly becomes Hurricane Audrey, which kills 390 people.

A day after the watch was declared, the residents of Louisiana near the Gulf of Mexico were told to seek higher ground. By the time many residents actually began to follow the advice–on the morning of June 27–it was too late. Roads were already washed out because of the strong rain and winds and an oil rig in the gulf had capsized after a storm surge.

Water on the coast reached as high as 15 feet above the normal high-tide mark. Boats were washed ashore by the tremendous waves. The towns of Cameron, Creole and Grand Chenier were devastated by the hurricane. Only one building survived in Creole and only two were left standing in Cameron, thankfully including the courthouse that was sheltering many of the residents.

Hurricane Audrey strengthened rapidly just before landfall on the Gulf Coast near the remote fishing village of Cameron LA on the Texas/Louisiana border during the early morning hours of June 27, 1957.

Many residents went to bed the night before thinking that they had time to evacuate the next morning, but were caught by surprise by the faster moving and stronger than anticipated storm.

The storm’s central pressure dropped from 973 to 945 millibars (and perhaps even lower) in just five hours. Winds reached 150 mph. The rapid intensification generated a storm surge of at least 12 feet above normal which was not anticipated.

390 people died in Louisiana (127 of them unidentified) with another 192 were reported missing. The loss of life was the greatest in the United States since the 1938 Hurricane in New England.