A Tropical Storm in February? It Happened Once…

By Brian Edwards, Meteorologist
February 4, 2013; 7:10 AM ET
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On Groundhog Day in 1952, the earliest tropical storm on record to strike the United States formed and quickly raced from the Caribbean into southern Florida before racing out into the Atlantic Ocean.

The 1952 Groundhog Day tropical storm formed very early on Feb. 2 in the far-western Caribbean Sea and was declared a tropical cyclone with initial winds around 35 mph.

The system quickly raced northeastward, brushing the northwest coast of Cuba before making landfall near Cape Sable, Fla., early on Feb. 3.

The system then crossed Florida, passing near Miami along the way. According to the National Weather Service office in Miami, Fla., they recorded a wind gust of 68 mph as well as sustained tropical storm-force winds for four hours.

After passing through Florida, the tropical storm emerged over the western Atlantic and accelerated northeastward, transitioning into an extratropical storm.

With a storm with such unusual timing, residents were reportedly caught off guard. There were many reports of wind damage and power outages along with upward of 4 inches of rainfall.

Such heavy rains during a very dry time of year caused significant damage to vegetable crops of south Miami-Date County, according to USA Today.

To this date, the Groundhog Day storm remains the only tropical cyclone in the month of February and the earliest one on record to strike the United States.

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