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Sept-Oct 2009

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Retrospect: September 16, 1903: The Vagabond Hurricane



 According to the Encarta World English Dictionary, a vagabond is defined as “a beggar or homeless wanderer, someone who has no permanent place to live.” As an adjective, the word can mean “unpredictable: wayward or capricious by nature.” It is undoubtedly with this definition in mind that The Press of Atlantic City dubbed the fourth storm of the 1903 Atlantic hurricane season the Vagabond Hurricane.

Although little is known about its formation, the earliest reports available— which appeared in a late-twentieth- century reanalysis of early hurricanes by the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory—place the storm about 550 miles northeast of the Leeward Islands on September 12, with maximum sustained winds at 70 mph, just below the minimum threshold for a hurricane.

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