ASK TOM: How did Hurricane Sandy compare to the 1935 Labor Day hurricane that hit the Florida Keys?

Dear Tom,

Deadly Hurricane Sandy had a very low barometric pressure. How did it compare to the 1935 Labor Day hurricane that hit the Florida Keys?

— Paul Smith

 

Dear Paul,

Just before Category 1 Hurricane Sandy’s landfall in New Jersey on Oct. 29, the barometric pressure dropped to 27.76 inches, or 940 mb (millibars). While an extremely low value, it was far from the 26.35-inch pressure (892 mb) of the Category 5 Labor Day hurricane that slammed the Florida Keys on Sept. 2, 1935 — the lowest barometer reading ever recorded in the U.S.

That storm, packing winds as high as 200 mph, annihilated areas from Tavernier to Vaca Key and was responsible for more than 400 deaths, many of them World War I veterans sent to the Keys to build U.S. Highway 1 from the Florida mainland to Key West.