1978 Hurricane Season
Atlantic hurricane season was an ongoing event in the annual cycle of
tropical cyclone formation. It officially started June 1, 1978, and lasted
until November 30, 1978.
Notable storms of 1978 include Tropical Storm Amelia, which killed 30
when it flooded the Guadalupe River in Texas. Hurricane Greta was similar
to 1974's Hurricane Fifi
in track and was even more intense.
However, Greta did not produce the severe river flooding that Fifi
caused, and improved warnings by the governments of Honduras, Belize, and
their neighbors reduced the death toll by three orders of magnitude. One
person was reported killed in Honduras, and four with three missing in
Belize. Belize estimated damage at $25 million (1978 US dollars). No
damage estimates were available from Honduras. Also, an unnamed
subtropical storm formed in mid-January. This is one of the earliest of
such systems to form in the Atlantic.
1978 storm names
The following names were used for named storms (tropical storms and
hurricanes) that formed in the North Atlantic in 1978. Names that were not
assigned are marked in gray.
- Loise (unused)
- Martha (unused)
- Noreen (unused)
- Ora (unused)
- Paula (unused)
- Rosalie (unused)
- Susan (unused)
- Tanya (unused)
- Vanessa (unused)
- Wanda (unused)
Subtropical Storm One
Subtropical Storm One was the earliest ever for a storm to form
(excluding Hurricane Alice in 1954, which formed in late December and
lasted into January) by forming on January 18. It formed 1,500 nautical
miles east-northeast of Puerto Rico, moved westward and strengthened to a
45 mph subtropical storm. Climatology prevailed, and the storm dissipated
on January 23, 200 miles northeast of Puerto Rico.
Tropical Storm Amelia
Tropical Storm Amelia formed in the western Gulf of Mexico near
Brownsville, Texas on July 30. The storm moved over land, but continued to
intensify to a 50 mph tropical storm. Land then took its toll, and the
storm dissipated over Texas on August 1. Flooding rains led to the deaths
of 30 people in Texas.
Tropical Storm Bess
Tropical Storm Bess formed in the central Gulf of Mexico on August 5.
Due to a strong high pressure system over Texas, the storm moved
southwestward, strengthening to a 50 mph storm. The storm hit Naulta,
Mexico on early August 8, and dissipated later that day.
The tropical depression that became Hurricane Cora formed on August 7
in the tropical Atlantic. It gradually strengthened to a 90 mph category 1
hurricane, but weakened to a tropical storm as it moved through the
Windward Islands. The storm continued to weaken, and dissipated on August
12 near the island of Aruba.
Tropical Storm Debra
Tropical Storm Debra began its life in the Central Gulf of Mexico,
north of the Yucatan Peninsula on August 26. It moved towards the
Louisiana coast, steadily intensifying to a 60 mph storm, and made
landfall halfway between Lake Charles, Louisiana and Beaumont, Texas.
Hurricane Ella formed from a stationary frontal zone in late August
over the central Atlantic. It moved west-northwestward, passing Bermuda
far to the south, and intensified to a major hurricane. After a brief
stall on September 2, Ella accellerated to the northeast, rapidly
strengthening to a 140 mph category 4 hurricane south of Nova Scotia. It
brushed the coast of Newfoundland and dissipated out at sea.
Hurricane Flossie formed in the tropical Atlantic on September 4,
midway between Cape Verde and the Lesser Antilles. The system moved to the
west-northwest, reaching 45 mph winds before upper level shear ripped
apart the system. After two days of moving to the northeast, the storm
re-strengthened to a tropical storm, and became a hurricane on the
September 12, located about halfway between Bermuda and the Azores
Islands. Cool waters eventually led the system to its death.
The tropical depression that became Hurricane Greta formed 75 miles
west-northwest of Trinidad on September 13. The storm moved through the
Central Caribbean, steadily strengthening. When it neared the coast of
Honduras it rapidly intensified to a Category 4 hurricane, bringing winds
to the country. It stayed offshore, but came to shore at Stann Creek
District, Belize on September 19 as a Category 2 hurricane. The storm
dissipated the next day, but went on to redevelop in the Eastern Pacific
as Hurricane Olivia. Luckily, death and damage was much lower than Hurricane
Fifi, a similar hurricane that came through the same area in 1974.
This was likely due to the lack of flooding rains, as well as warnings
from the affected countries.
Tropical Storm Hope
Tropical Storm Hope formed just off the northeast coast of Florida on
September 12. It remained a tropical depression for 3 days as it moved
generally eastward. It ultimately attained 65 mph wind speeds over the
open Atlantic, but passed cooler waters before reaching hurricane
strength. Still, the storm retained tropical characteristics to nearly
60º north, not far from Iceland.
Tropical Storm Irma
Tropical Storm Irma formed in the northeastern Atlantic ocean, near the
Azores, on October 2. The storm moved north-northeastward, attaining a
maximum windspeed of 50 mph and passing through the Azores before it
dissipated on October 5.
Tropical Storm Juliet
Juliet formed from a tropical wave on October 7 about 600 miles east of
Puerto Rico. The storm passed north of the island, attained a wind speed
of 50 mph, and headed into the open Atlantic before dissipating on October
11 southwest of Bermuda.
The final storm of the season formed east of the Bahamas on October 28.
The storm strengthened to a category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained
windspeeds of 80 mph, and weakened to a tropical depression on November 1,
before dissipating on November 3.