Rare out-of-season storm hits Florida

Remains the only tropical storm to strike in February

By Trent Aric - Meteorologist
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On Groundhog Day 1952 South Florida was struck by an unnamed tropical storm. The only known tropical storm or hurricane to ever hit the U.S. in February.

MIAMI - Thursday is Groundhog Day when most of the country is wondering if we will see six more weeks of winter or if spring will arrive early.  In 1952, South Florida was worried that the hurricane season had arrived early. 

The official hurricane season in the Atlantic, which includes the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.  But on the night of February 2. 1952 an unnamed tropical storm moved northeast across South Florida becoming the only know tropical storm or hurricane to ever make landfall in the United States during the month of February. 

This storm became known as the Groundhog Day storm.  As you can see in the map above, the system formed in the northwest Caribbean on Feb. 1 and moved rapidly northeast at 35 mph making landfall in Key West around 8 p.m. Feb. 2.  The storm continued toward the west coast of Florida making landfall near Cape Sable around 10 p.m.  The storm's center went just west of downtown Miami at 12:30 a.m. February 3.

What was left of the storm raced up the eastern seaboard crossing Cape Cod, Mass. late on Feb. 4.

At the time, the National Weather Service office was located at 1410 NW Second Avenue in downtown Miami.  There they measured sustained winds of 59 mph with gusts of 68 mph.  The tropical storm force winds, above 40 mph, blew for 4 consecutive hours.  The pressure dropped to 1004 millibars. 

The Groundhog Day storm dropped about 2 - 4 inches of rain across the area.  While we could use the rain, I don't think any of us are ready for hurricane season to start just yet.

Happy Groundhog Day!

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