Typhoon Olive (1952)

Typhoon Olive was the strongest Pacific typhoon in 1952. The thirteenth tropical storm and the ninth typhoon of the season, it developed about 1,600 mi (2,600 km) southwest of Honolulu, Hawaii on September 13. The next day, the system attained tropical storm intensity. Beginning to rapidly intensify, Olive attained typhoon intensity on September 15. Olive reached Category 5 intensity on the modern-day Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale on September 16.

Typhoon Olive
Category 5 super typhoon (SSHWS)
Surface analysis map of Super Typhoon Olive on September 16
FormedSeptember 13, 1952 (September 13, 1952)
DissipatedSeptember 21, 1952 (September 21, 1952)
Highest winds1-minute sustained: 295 km/h (185 mph)
Lowest pressure≤ 940 hPa (mbar); 27.76 inHg
FatalitiesNone reported
Damage> $1.6 million (1952 USD)
Areas affectedWake Island
Part of the 1952 Pacific typhoon season

Olive produced significant damage on Wake Island, where wind gusts reached 142 mph (229 km/h). Significant flooding was reported, and the majority of the structures were destroyed. However, few injuries were reported, and the island's facilities were restored in 1953. Typhoon Olive remains one of the most intense tropical cyclones to affect the island.

Meteorological history

Map plotting the storm's track and intensity, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale
Map key
  Tropical depression (≤38 mph, ≤62 km/h)
  Tropical storm (39–73 mph, 63–118 km/h)
  Category 1 (74–95 mph, 119–153 km/h)
  Category 2 (96–110 mph, 154–177 km/h)
  Category 3 (111–129 mph, 178–208 km/h)
  Category 4 (130–156 mph, 209–251 km/h)
  Category 5 (≥157 mph, ≥252 km/h)
Storm type
Extratropical cyclone / Remnant low / Tropical disturbance / Monsoon depression

On September 8, an area of disturbed weather, located near 12.0°N 169.0°W, was plotted as a tropical wave on surface weather maps. Operationally, however, the system was not classified as a tropical storm until September 15;[1] however, postseason analysis determined that the system acquired tropical storm intensity on 0000 UTC on September 15.[2] Tropical Storm Olive, moving west-northwest near 10 mph (16 km/h), turned toward Wake Island on September 15. Around 1800 UTC Olive was upgraded into typhoon, with winds of 75 mph (121 km/h). Continuing to intensify, Olive passed near Wake Island, where maximum sustained winds of 127 mph (204 km/h) were recorded. Around this time, reconnaissance aircraft reported a minimum central pressure of 945 mbar (hPa; 27.91 inHg).[1][2] On September 16, Olive intensified from a Category 2 to a Category 4 typhoon, attained the equivalence of super typhoon intensity, and strengthened to a peak intensity of 185 mph (298 km/h) the following day far from land. On September 18, Olive weakened from a Category 5 to a Category 2 typhoon and recurved northeast. On September 19, the cyclone lost typhoon intensity. Tropical Storm Olive transitioned into an extratropical cyclone and was last monitored on September 21.[2]

Preparations and impact

On Wake Island, 750 people sheltered in World War II bunkers.[3][4] Olive, the second typhoon to affect the island since 1935, produced sustained wind speeds of 120 mph (190 km/h) and peak gusts of 142 mph (229 km/h) on the island. Significant flooding was also recorded.[1] Damage was severe; it is estimated that 85% of the island's structures were demolished due to the storm.[5] All of the homes and the island's hotel were destroyed. Additionally, the island's chapel and quonset huts were destroyed.[4][5] The island's LORAN station, operated by the United States Coast Guard, was also destroyed.[6] On September 18, water and power services were restored.[7] The facilities on the island were fully restored in 1953.[5] The total cost to repair damages caused by Olive amounted to $1.6 million (1952 USD; $13 million 2009 USD).[8] No fatalities occurred on the island, and four injuries were reported. None of the 230 Pan American World Airways employees received injuries.[4]

See also


  1. Central Pacific Hurricane Center. Tropical Cyclones During the Years 1900-1952 (Report). United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service. Retrieved June 8, 2012.
  2. Joint Typhoon Warning Center. "1952 Joint Typhoon Warning Center "best track" data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved January 18, 2009.
  3. "750 On Wake Escape Death in Big Storm". Lodi News-Sentinel. September 17, 1952. Retrieved July 10, 2013.
  4. The Clipper publication. Atoll Island Ravaged by Wind and Rain but No One is Seriously Injured; Eyewitnesses Tell Story (September 25, 1952). Pan American World Airways Pacific-Alaska Division.
  5. Dateline DX Association. "Wake Island History". Retrieved January 18, 2009.
  6. "Loran Station Wake Island". Loran history. Retrieved January 18, 2009.
  7. The Clipper publication. Plans to Rebuild Wake are Already Under Way (September 25, 1952). Pan American World Airways Pacific-Alaska Division.
  8. E. H. Bryan, Jr. (May 15, 1959). "Atoll Research Bulletin No. 66" (PDF). National Academy of Sciences--National Research Council. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 13, 2006. Retrieved May 13, 2009.
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