It described a 4 p.m. heavy gale that increased to a perfect hurricane wind, with the shifting of winds by noon the next day. The shift of winds from the northeast to the northwest told Mock that the storm track passed to the east of the Rebecca.
Using the logs and protests, Mock was able to correlate the precise location of ships with the hourly weather and create a map of the storm’s path through the Gulf of Mexico.
“Its initial approach was toward Mississippi, but then it turned northwest toward Louisiana as it approached landfall in the afternoon on Aug. 19,” Mock said. “The USS Enterprise had the most detailed wind observations at New Orleans. A change in winds to the southwest around local midnight tells me that the storm center skimmed as little as five kilometers to the west of New Orleans.”
To further understand the hurricane’s formation and dissipation, Mock reviewed records stretching as far north as Ohio and east to South Carolina. Included among them were meteorological records by James Kershaw in Camden, S.C., which are part of the collections of USC’s South Caroliniana Library.
“I wanted to collect data from a wide area to understand the weather patterns, pressure systems and the very nature of the 1812 hurricane,” said Mock. “A better understanding of hurricanes of the past for a wide area provides a better understanding of hurricane formation and their tracks in the future.”