National Geographic : 1899 Jan
WEST INDIAN HURRICANE ing the storm of 1831 1,477 persons were killed outright, 310 were injured, of which number 114 died, and property to the value of $7,397,532 was destroyed. During the storm of 1898 83 lives were lost, about 150 persons were injured, and the esti mated value of property destroyed was $2,500,000. At St Vin cent the storm of the present year was pronounced in every way far more destructive than the hurricane of 1831. Accounts agree that these storms stand as the record hurricanes of the Wind ward islands, comparedwith which all others experienced in those islands have been comparatively unimportant. A notable fea ture of the storm of the present year was the period occupied by the center, or vortex, in crossing the island of St Vincent; it appeared to poise, or hover, over that locality about three-quar ters of an hour. This fact indicates that the center made, or attempted to make, a recurve at that point; and one of the known characteristics of cyclonic storms is that they develop their greatest strength during recurves. In all descriptions of hurricanes particular mention is made of the premonitory signs of their approach. These signs are found in the sea, in the wind, and in the clouds. The sea, ren dered tumultuous by the terrific, confused winds about the storm's vortex, becomes disturbed and runs in swells far in ad vance of the body of the storm ; the winds increase in gusts, and as a rule converge toward the vortex; and high cirrus clouds, carried forward by the upper air currents, are observed many hours in advance of the storm's arrival. The most important indication is, however, found in the action of the barometer. In that por tion of the storm's vortex which may be termed its periphery the air is, as it were, piled up by the centrifugal force exerted about the cyclone's core. This action causes a slight but well marked rise in the barometer, which in hurricanes of average diameter and. speed precedes the arrival of the center by several hours. This rise is quickly followed by a rapid fall in the ba rometer, with increasing seas coming from the location of the storm center, and cirrus clouds change quickly to heavy, rapidly moving, lower clouds, which usually move in a direc tion almost perpendicular to a trajectory of the storm's path. In many instances the lower clouds precede the arrival of the vortex one to two days, rendering upper cloud observation after the first signs of cirrus impossible. In this brief review it may be of interest to note the relative frequency of hurricanes in the several islands of the West Indies.