1935 Labor Day Hurricane.

By | Aug 29, 2010

When the hurricane of Labor Day 1935  hit the United States at the Florida Keys it had winds reaching 200 miles per hour with a barometric pressure recorded at 26.35, the lowest ever recorded on land. It had a 17-foot tidal surge.

At its inception it was only 3 to four days away from the Florida coast. It developed near the Bahamas, and not lower in the Atlantic as usual. It formed on August 29, 1935 and was fully dissipated on September 10. It struck the Florida Keys on September 2nd.

The total deaths in the Florida Keys from this hurricane is unknown but it is estimated that there were at least 423 deaths. 259 of these were from an estimated population of 750 World War I veterans building a bridge to begin the elimination of the ferry boats (34.5%) and 164 of the resident population of 13,335 (1.2%).

After crossing the Keys the storm decreased in strength and headed northward in the Gulf of Mexico. It made landfall again on September 4th in northwest Florida near Cedar Key as a Category 2 hurricane. It passed over Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina prior to emerging into the Atlantic Ocean near Norfolk on September 6. Even after emerging into the Northern Atlantic it again gained to Hurricane strength reaching wind speeds of 90 mph.

It was the first of only three recorded hurricanes that made landfall in the United States as a Category 5 hurricane. The others are Camile in 1969 and Andrew in 1992.

At mile marker 82 in Islamorada just west of US Route 1, sits a simple monument designed by the Florida Division of the Federal Art Project and constructed using Keys limestone by the Works Progress Administration. With more that 4,000 people in attendance it was unveiled in 1937.  The monument depicts palm trees amid curling waves, fronds bent in the wind. In front of the sculpture, a ceramic-tile mural of the Keys covers a stone crypt, which holds victims’ ashes from the makeshift funeral pyres. The memorial was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on March 16, 1995.


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1 Comment so far
  1. Quill October 14, 2009 10:32 pm

    This was a horrific event that the Keys will always remember. You can read more about this disaster at http://hubpages.com/hub/LastTrain

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