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The North Atlantic hurricane database, or HURDAT, is the database for all tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. Starting with version 11.0, SMS has been able to open an easy read HURDAT file with the File | Open command or using the drag/drop technique. SMS uses the file extension of *.hurdat to identify this format. If the database has been downloaded and another extension put on the file (such as .dat) SMS will not automatically recognize the file as an easyread HURDAT file and will ask the user to specify the file type. In this case, the user should select the HURDAT easy read format. The easy read format is a process format that is usually available by accessing the URL with an extension for this format (i.e. /hurdat/easyread-2009.html, /hurdat/easyread-2011.html, or /hurdat/easyread-2012.html). As the data is reprocessed it can be accessed in this form usually around 2 years after the events occur. The format is slightly easier for humans to read.

Starting with version 12.0 of SMS, support was expanded to support the unprocessed HURDAT format (HURDAT2). SMS recognizes this format using the file extension of .hurdat2. This data is accessible from NOAA for both the North Atlantic and Eastern Pacific basins.

Also beginning with version 12.0, SMS added a feature to allow the user to filter available storms from the database file based on the following optional and user specified criterion:

  • Date range – only storms whose data overlaps specified range will be displayed.
  • Lat/Lon range – only storms that pass through the specified rectangle will be displayed.
  • Speed range – only storms which include at least one data point of storm speed (knots) inside the range will be displayed.
  • Wind speed range – only storms which include at least one data point with a maximum wind speed (mph) inside the range will be displayed. This would typically be used to filter out storms which never reached a minimum strength.
  • Pressure range – only storms which include at least one data point with a minimum central pressure (mb) inside the range will be displayed.

The user may select as many filtering criterion as desired and press the Run button. Storms which pass the specified filter limits will be displayed in the list. The user may then select as many of these storms as are desired and click the OK button to read the storm parameters into SMS as Wind model coverages.

File Format


92620 08/16/1992 M=13  2 SNBR= 899 ANDREW      XING=1 SSS=4
Card# MM/DD/Year Days S# Total#... Name........US Hit.Hi US category


92580 04/22S2450610  30 1003S2490615  45 1002S2520620  45 1002S2550624  45 1003*
Card# MM/DD&LatLongWindPress&LatLongWindPress&LatLongWindPress&LatLongWindPress


92760 HRCFL4BFL3 LA3
Card# TpHit.Hit.Hit.


  • Card# – Sequential card number starting at 00005 in 1851
  • MM/DD/Year – Month, Day, and Year of storm
  • Days – Number of days in which positions are available (note that this also means number of lines to follow of Daily Data and then the one line of the *Trailer)
  • S# – Storm number for that particular year (including subtropical storms)
  • Total# – Storm number since the beginning of the record (since 1851)
  • Name – Storms only given official names since 1950
  • US Hit
    • '1' – Made landfall (i.e., the center of the cyclone crossed the coast) on the continental United States as a tropical storm or hurricane,
    • '0' – did not make a U.S. landfall
  • Hi US category
    • '0' – Used to indicate U.S. tropical storm landfall, but this has not been utilized in recent years
    • '1' to '5' – Highest Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale impact in the United States based upon extimated maximum sustained surface winds produced at the coast. See scale below.

Daily Data

  • Card# – As above.
  • MM/DD – Month and Day
  • Positions and intensities are at 00Z, 06Z, 12Z, 18Z
    • &
      • '*' (tropical cyclone stage),
      • 'S' (Subtropical stage)
      • 'E' (extratropical stage)
      • 'W' (wave stage – rarely used)
      • 'L' (remanent Low stage – rarely used)
    • Lat – Latitude of storm: 24.5N
    • Long – Longitude of storm: 61.0W
    • Wind – Maximum sustained (1 minute) surface (10m) windspeed in knots (these are to the nearest 10 knots for 1851 to 1885 and to the nearest 5 kt for 1886 onward).
    • Press – Central surface pressure of storm in mb (if available). Since 1979, central pressures are given everytime even if a satellite estimation is needed.


  • Card# – As above.
  • Tp – Maximum intensity of storm
    • 'HR' – hurricane
    • 'TS' – tropical storm
    • 'SS' – subtropical storm
  • Hit – The impact of the hurricane on individual U.S. states ('LA' = Louisiana, etc.) based upon the Saffir-Simpson Scale category (through the estimate of the maximum sustained surface winds for each state). See scale below. Occasionally, a hurricane will cause a hurricane impact (estimated maximum sustained surface winds) in an inland state. To differentiate these cases versus coastal hurricane impacts, these inland hurricane strikes are denoted with an "I" prefix before the state abbreviation. States that have been so impacted at least once during this time period include Alabama (IAL), Georgia (IGA), North Carolina (INC), Virginia (IVA), and Pennsylvania (IPA). The Florida peninsula, by the nature of its relatively landmass, is all considered as coastal in this database.
Note that Florida and Texas are split into smaller regions:
  • 'AFL' – Northwest Florida
  • 'BFL' – Southwest Florida
  • 'CFL' – Southeast Florida
  • 'DFL' – Northeast Florida
  • 'ATX' – South Texas
  • 'BTX' – Central Texas
  • 'CTX' – North Texas

Saffir-Simpson Scale

Saffir-Simpson Category Maximum sustained wind speed
mph m/s kts
1 74-95 33-42 64-82
2 96-110 43-49 83-95
3 111-130 50-58 96-113
4 131-155 59-69 114-135
5 156+ 70+ 136+

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