I want to thank Tony Cristaldi of the National Weather Service, Melbourne, Florida, for writing and sharing historic weather information that gives strong insight into why in 1924 the St. Lucie Canal was so damaged that its completion date has been “clouded in history,” and thus the subject of my most recent blog posts.
The Great Rain of 1924, Postponing the St. Lucie Canal
Storm Damage that Almost Destroyed the St. Lucie Canal
Mr. Cristaldi’s message is below. It is a fascinating read! Tropical Storm #9’s rainfall levels; the Great Cuba Hurricane’s immense rainfall-interestingly, a hurricane who later would be declared a Category 5 Storm; and the combined 1924 rain levels in our region of today’s Treasure Coast of up to three feet !
Thank you Tony for this wonderful documentation -as together we learn all we can for the 100 Year Anniversary of the St. Lucie Canal -coming up in 2024 even though the storm damage pushed its “opening” to 1925 or 1926 and maybe later….
Below: Letter National Weather Service’s Tony Cristaldi:
I’ve been an avid reader of your blog for a few years now. I did a some research into this rainfall event, and learned a few things. This was one of two separate extreme tropical cyclone rainfall event which impacted SEFL in October of 1924.
The first, a moderate strength (60 mph) Tropical Storm (#9), was centered over the Gulf of Mexico, well to the west of Florida, but was part of a prolonged wet period which produced between 5-15″ of rainfall up and down the entirety of the Florida east coast from October 4-10.
The second, which occurred only days later, was the infamous “Great Cuba Hurricane of 1924”. Heavy rain fell along, and well ahead (north) of its center, with between 1 and 2 FEET falling across SOFL from Oct 18-23.
While I could not find daily/monthly rainfall totals for the PSL/Stuart area, there are records avaialble for Vero Beach for that month. 25.01″ of rain fell there that month, including almost 12″ from the first system and nearly 9″ from the second (during the 2-day period where 15″ fell at Stuart).
Given the heaviest rainfall totals occurred south of Vero Beach during both events, one can probably assume that between 2.5 and 3 FEET of rain fell near the Inlet entrance that month, a truly historical month in terms of weather.”
National Weather Service
Thank you Tony! And for readers, you can conveniently follow NWSMelbourne for today’s hurricanes and rainfall events. I know I do! Obsessively!