This powerful, deadly, and destructive hurricane formed just west of the Cayman Islands on August 14. It rapidly intensified and by the time it reached western Cuba the next day it was a Category 3 hurricane. Camille tracked north-northwestward across the Gulf of Mexico and became a Category 5 hurricane on August 16. The hurricane maintained this intensity until it made landfall along the Mississippi coast late on the 17th. Camille weakened to a tropical depression as it crossed Mississippi into western Tennessee and Kentucky, then it turned eastward across West Virginia and Virginia. The cyclone moved into the Atlantic on August 20 and regained tropical storm strength before becoming extratropical on the 22nd.
A minimum pressure of 26.84 inches was reported in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, which makes Camille the second most intense hurricane of record to hit the United States. The actual maximum sustained winds will never be known, as the hurricane destroyed all the wind-recording instruments in the landfall area. The estimates at the coast are near 200 mph. Columbia, Mississippi, located 75 miles inland, reported 120 mph sustained winds. A storm tide of 24.6 ft occurred at Pass Christian, Mississippi. The heaviest rains along the Gulf Coast were about 10 inches. However, as Camille passed over the Virginias, it produced a burst of 12 to 20 inch rains with local totals of up to 31 inches. Most of this rain occurred in 3 to 5 hours and caused catastrophic flash flooding.
The combination of winds, surges, and rainfalls caused 256 deaths (143 on the Gulf Coast and 113 in the Virginia floods) and $1.421 billion in damage. Three deaths were reported in Cuba.
The September 1969 Tropical Cyclone Report contains comprehensive information on Hurricane Camille.