Weather

The most well-known weather event in Clay County is the freeze of 1895. This wiped out any further attempt at growing oranges in North Florida. It must have also influenced tourists to use the new railroads to travel further south, foresaking the Green Cove Springs hotels.

However, we know of more than 150 other weather events, nearly all of which predate the National Weather Service database. Volunteers have cataloged them from various historical sources while conducting other research. We are happy to help you find sources for further investigation.

The Other Big Ones

 

The Drought of 1770-1773

This drought, in the middle of the British colonial era, was so severe that the crops utterly failed. Since many of the large planters were still living in Britain, the food failure may not have been as important as the total loss of their indigo crops. Indigo production nearly vanished after this period.

Droughts continued to plague Clay County off and on throughout its history.

The Great Gale of 1804

This storm was a whopper. It destroyed the church in St. Augustine, wiped out a military battery at the mouth of the St. Johns and caused severe damage throughout north Florida. Aftwerwards, it swept up the East Coast, killing more than 500 people in the Carolinas.

You'll find dozens of references to severe storms in our past.

The Frozen St. Johns River of 1835 -- Volcano!

A few sources mention that the river froze several rods (perhaps 50 feet) out from the banks. This freeze happened at the beginning of the Second Seminole War. While the reasons for the war are generally related to the Seminole's refusal to move west after the Treaty of Payne's landing, the freeze may have added pressure to the situation since the Seminole's food supply may have been reduced.

Contemporary writers indicated that the freeze was related to a large iceburg that floated south along Florida's shores, but no eyewitness account of the ice mass has been located. Volunteers in the Archives theorize that it was caused by the eruption of the Cosigüina volcano in Nicaragua. The sun was completely blacked out for about 100 miles and ash feel as far north as Jamaica. Because the eruption happened just before the freeze, and because Jamaica is between the eruption and Florida, it seems logical to draw the connection, but no research has yet been published on the topic.

If volcanos intrigue you, perhaps it would be interesting to investigate whether the Iceland eruptions causes a cold period in Europe beginning in 1770, which led to food shortages, which led to pressure on Britain to give up some colonial endeavours, including Florida.

 

 

Historical Weather Events in Florida

 

Mon
Day
Year
Event Information
3
27
1513
Noreaster  
 
1520
Storm Spanish ships caught in a storm on E. coast
 
1553
Storm Spanish boat sunk off Tampico
8
14
1559
Storm  2000-sailor fleet destroyed in Pensacola
9
1565
Storm French Boats, Ribault, Menendez
 
1566?
Drought lasted 8 months sometime between 1565 and 1568
 
1586
Storm Drake
 
1599
Flood St. Augustine, Menendez
 
1599
Fire St. Augustine, Menendez
9
1670
Storm  
8
1700
Storm British "Rising Sun" sunk in Charleston after Florida winds
 
1711
Flood Pensacola, Iberville, Ft Louis
9
10
1716
Storm  
11
3
1752
Hurricane  
8
8
1763
Gale  
12
19
1765
Snow Did not apparently impact agriculture (N FL)
1
3
1766
Freeze maybe de Brahm is being quoted.  Killed fruit trees
10
18
1768
Gale 2 St. Aug troop transports suffer
10
20
1768
Gale St. Aug troop transports suffers again
10
1768
Storm  
9
28
1769
Gale hardes gale Grant saw
 
1770
Drought Lasted through 1772 and ended indigo plantations as planters turned to turpentine
1
1771
Gale Slave ship blown
1
1771
Gale De Brahms ship lost
 
1771
Drought  
 
1772
Drought  
 
1773
Drought  
1
3
1774
Freeze Snow in St. Augustine & Ice an inch thick
 
1777
Storm ships on St Johns fighting
8
1778
Storm Sloops lost in pursuit of New Smyrna slaves
 
1781
Drought  
5
3-6
1786
Storm Gov writes of storm
 
1786
Hurricane Urriza says hurricane delayed letters
 
1786
Hurricane Urriza * Gov write back and forth: says cargo probably lost in hurricane
11
23
1788
Storm Tuxillo writes about boat damage
 
1788
Drought Richard Lang writes there was a drought
6
25
1790
Storm Huet writes about storm damaged bread rations
5
17
1791
Drought Gov of FL writes about drought
1
1792
Storm St. Marys
10
10
1792
Storm Gordoncillo writes consider storm damaged buildings
10
1792
Hurricane Gov of FL writes about hurricane
4
22
1793
Storm Gordoncillo writes of storm damaged buildings
9
20
1793
Storm Romero writes 3 shelters storm damaged
10
1793
Storm de Pangua writes storm damaged battery
6
27
1794
Storm Rodriguez writes alamcen (store) and corn damaged by storm
10
1794
Lightning Storm de Queseda writes about lightning storm
12
1794
Storm Howard says English cemetary swept away
5or6
1794
Storm Howard writes of storm
8or9
1794
Storm Howard writes of Queseda battery and boats storm damage
2
2
1795
Drought McQueen writes about drought
2
1795
Storm Howard writes of storm damage
5
26
1795
Drought Carlos Howard writes there is a drought
6
7
1795
Drought  
2
1797
Storm Zevallos writes ship may have been lost
10or11
1797
Storm Guietierrez writes of storm damages
12
1798
Storm Martinez writes of stockade storm damage
2
1799
Storm Menocal writes gunboat lost cable in storm
4
1799
Storm Viejo writes of storm damaged guard shelter and powder
6
1799
Storm Guietierrez writes of storm damages
10
5
1799
Storm Martinez writes of storm damage
11
1799
Storm Guietierrez writes of storm damages
2
19
1800
Freeze Ellicott's journal
10
29
1800
Storm Guitierres writes storm blocks news from Amelia
11
1800
Storm Rodriguez writes guardhouse damaged
 
1800
Hurricane Berrio writes powder damaged by hurricane
8
1802
Storm Pardon writes of storm damage
5
1803
Storm de le Puente writes of storm damage to buildings
9
1803
Storm Garcie writes of storm damage
10
1803
Storm de le Puente writes of storm damage to buildings
11
1803
Storm Zamora writes of storm damage
12
1803
Storm de le Puente writes shipped forced in because of storm
 
1803
Ruined Gov writes about ruined bridges at ferries
9
8
1804
Hurricane DETAILED DESC OF STORM at eBook - Philosophical Magazine Journal of Theoretical etc
9
1804
Storm Yglesias writes of storm damage
9
1804
Storm Gov White writes saying church needs to be pulled down
10
1804
Storm Gov says VP Burr couldn’t come because of storm
8
1805
Storm Lopez says storm damaged supplies
9
1805
Storm Lopez says storm damaged battery
10
1805
Storm Lopez says storm damaged battery
10
1805
Storm Lopez says storm damaged battery
9
1
1806
Hurricane Hutchison writes of great storm
9
15
1806
Storm Romero writes of storm damage / Pellicer may be lost
10
8
1806
Storm de Hita says St. Aug wharf destroyed by storm
11
1806
Storm White says ship may have been lost
12
1807
Storm de la Puente says boat lost to storm
3
1810
Storm Gov says mail packet lost & McQueen Papers lost (Talbot Isl)
9
1811
Storm Lopez writes mail and newspapers lost
10
5
1811
Hurricane de Estrada writes about considerable losses from hurricane
10
1811
Storm Romero writes of erosion by storm
11
1811
Storm Gov writes about storm damage donations to victims
 
1811
Hurricane Sanchez writes about citizens losses in hurricane
10
5
1812
Hurricane Arrendondo writes poor people lost things in hurricane
 
1812
Hurricane  
8
3
1813
Ruined Posse writes plantations ruined
9
16
1813
Hurricane 1) de Avila writes and 2) Kindelan also writes abotu hurricane damaged ship
 
1813
Hurricane Gov writes ship prob wrecked in hurricane
1
1816
Freeze de Pangua writes about extreme cold
8
7
1817
Storm  
10
1820
Hurricane Gov writes that fortifications might have been damaged
2
1822
Freeze all fruit trees killed  (google book - Industrial Resources, etc, of the Southern and Western States by de Bow, pg 342) (W FL)
6
2
1825
Storm Cyclone Thesis
10
2
1825
Storm Cyclone Thesis
 
1825
Drought  
4
6
1828
Freeze Killed all fruit trees.   27 degrees at 6 mile creek
8
15
1830
Hurricane Good description of track (St. Augustine & St. Marys)
6
10
1831
Storm Cyclone Thesis
9
3
1831
Storm Audubon caught in a storm at sea
2
8
1835
Freeze St. Johns frozen several rods (see also eBook - Territory of FL pg 25)
9
15
1835
Storm Cyclone Thesis
7
31
1837
Storm  
8
1
1837
Storm Cyclone Thesis
8
2
1837
   
8
6
1837
Storm Cyclone Thesis
8
7
1837
Storm Cyclone Thesis
8
27
1837
Storm  
8
30
1837
Storm Cyclone Thesis
8
mid
1837
Storm Cyclone Thesis
9
13
1837
Storm Cyclone Thesis
9
26
1837
Storm Cyclone Thesis
9
14
1841
Storm Cyclone Thesis
9
22
1842
Storm Cyclone Thesis
10
4
1842
Storm Cyclone Thesis
10
26
1842
Storm Cyclone Thesis
10
1842
Hurricane deduced Oct 1842 from reading several pgs starting on 99
9
13
1843
Hurricane  
9
8
1844
Storm Cyclone Thesis
10
11
1846
Storm Blake received a commander promotion for his ability in the storm ()
 
1846
Storm Kingsley's son George dies at sea in storm
9
25
1848
Storm Cyclone Thesis
10
11
1848
Storm Cyclone Thesis
8
23/25
1850
Storm Cyclone Thesis
8
22
1851
Storm Tallahassee
 
1857
Freeze 16 degrees
12
Xmas
1868
Freeze worst freezes since 1835
12
Xmas
1870
Freeze worst freezes since 1835
9
19
1873
Hurricane Full article on storms
9
23
1873
Storm Full article on storms
10
6
1873
Hurricane Full article on storms
10
1&2
1877
Storm description of storm damage at Pensacola, etc
 
1880
Meteor Whitestone Township, kills man
early
1881
Freeze Froze oranges
3
23
1883
Sun Spots  
1
12
1886
Freeze Details.  Also Mentions FL military meteorl. Obs were pub by Surgeon gen in 1854 and 1860 (Check "List of climatological records in the National archives." 
3-6
1887
Drought severe orange mite problem
11
25
1888
Freeze  
 
1889
Drought  
 
1893
Hurricane Extremely violent storm right over Jax.  Took out GCS pier, I believe
3
26
1894
Freeze FL/GA Border
12
20
1894
Freeze Very bad on orange crop
2
8
1895
Freeze Very bad on orange crop
11
1896
Storm Timber will be lost in Levy (county?)
12
28-29
1896
Freeze Bradford County got to 21 degrees
1
1-2
1898
Freeze Freeze worse than 1896 (FL as far as Orange Riv)
4
1898
Drought Ft. Meade
 
1903
Drought Oats failing at Melrose