Friday, August 26, 2011

Some of the great hurricanes that have impacted New York State and New England.

With the approach of Hurricane Irene I thought I would  make a blog post on northeast hurricanes. There have been other tropical storms and hurricanes that have impacted the area. But, these are in a class by themselves.  Monster hurricanes are rare in the Northeast. However, that doesn't mean unheard of. This is a list of the greatest  hurricanes that have impacted New York State and  New England.

The Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635
August 25, 1635

This hurricane is the first recorded intense hurricane to  strike New England. This storm had estimated winds of 115-130 mph which makes it a Category 3. The storm’s eye passed between Boston and Plymouth causing at least 46 casualties. A 20-foot tidal surge was reported in Boston, ruining farms throughout the area. the amount of damage suggest that this storm possessed even greater intensity than the storms of 1815 and 1938.

The Great September Gale of 1815
September 23, 1815

This storm started in the West Indies, It's at its height it had winds of 135-140 mph making it a  Category 4 After crossing Long Island, New York, the storm came ashore near Saybrook, Connecticut. The storm was so strong that it funneled a 11-foot storm surge up  into Narragansett Bay. it destroyed hundreds of houses, 35 ships and flooded Providence, Rhode Island. Impacting Central and Coastal Massachusetts.

The September Gale of 1869
September 8, 1869

A Category 3, this ‘September Gale’ was first observed in the Bahamas. The storm made landfall in Rhode Island a little west of Buzzards Bay, It caused extensive damage in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine.

The Great New England Hurricane of 1938
September 21, 1938

This is the hurricane all other Northeast hurricanes have been measured too. At one point in its life it was a Category 5,. Another name it goes by is  “The Long Island Express”, this is because it suddenly accelerated to a forward motion of 60 to 70 mph, when it was 100 miles east of North Carolina. Without warning, it made landfall as a Category 3, during an astronomically high tide along Long Island, New York and the Connecticut coast. The Blue Hill Observatory, outside of Boston, measured sustained winds of 121 mph, with gusts of 183 mph. Storm surges of 10 to 12 feet inundated portions of the coast from Long Island to Southeastern Massachusetts, most notably in Narragansett Bay and Buzzards Bay. Heavy rains of 3” to 6” produced severe flooding, particularly in areas of Western Massachusetts and along the Connecticut River. Downtown Providence, Rhode Island was impacted by a 20-foot storm surge. Sections of the Towns of Falmouth and Truro on Cape Cod were under 8 feet of water. The widespread destruction resulting from this storm included 600 deaths and 1,700 injuries. Over $400 million in damage occurred, including 9,000 homes and businesses lost and 15,000 damaged. Damage to the Southern New England fishing fleet was catastrophic, as over 6,000 vessels were either destroyed or severely damaged.

The Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944
September 14-15, 1944

Sometimes compared to the Great Hurricane of 1938, this storm was first detected northeast of the Lesser Antilles. It was similar to Irene in that it hugged the United States coast, crossing Long Island, New York, the Rhode Island Coast, emerged into Massachusetts Bay and impacted Maine. Up to 11” of rain fell in areas of New England. 390 deaths, mostly at sea, were attributed to this hurricane. It wreaked havoc on World War II shipping, sinking a U.S. Navy destroyer and minesweeper, as well as two U.S. Coast Guard cutters.

Hurricane Dog
September 11-12, 1950

A strong Category 5, Hurricane Dog reached a peak intensity of 185 mph. First observed east of the Lesser Antilles on August 30th, this was a major hurricane that never actually made landfall, passing within 200 miles of Cape Cod. However, it was responsible for the deaths of at least a dozen fishermen off the New England coast. It also caused about $3 million damage. To this day, it retains the record for the longest continuous duration for a Category 5 Atlantic Hurricane of 60 hours, from September 5th through September 8th. ‘Dog” also fluctuated between Category 4 & 5 strength on four different occasions, which is also a record.

Hurricane Carol
August 31, 1954

Carol is another hurricane that had a similar track to the forecasted track of Irene. This small, but powerful Category 2 battered New England, killing 68. With 100 mph winds, gusting up to 135mph, ‘Carol  destroyed around 4,000 homes, and thousands of boats. This was arguably the most destructive storm to hit Southern New England since 1938. She  formed  near the Bahamas, making brief landfall along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The storm passed over Long Island, New York, through Central New England into Canada, bringing a storm surge of 14.4 feet to Narragansett Bay and New Bedford Harbor. Over 6” of rain fell. Water depths reached 12 feet in downtown Providence, Rhode Island. Some consider ‘Carol’ the worst storm in the history of Cape Cod.

Hurricane Edna
September 11, 1954

‘Edna’ arrived right on the heels of Hurricane Carol. It formed off of Barbados, She reached  Category 3  at the Outer Banks of North Carolina, with its highest winds of 120 mph. Before striking New England, its eye split into two different ones, up to 60 miles apart at times, moving over Cape Cod & the Islands where peak gusts were recorded at 120 mph. Its eastern track, which resulted in heavy rain and major inland flooding, adding 5” to 7” of rain to Carol’s previous 6”. The storm was responsible for 29 deaths and $40 million damage.

Hurricane Hazel
October 15, 1954

Hurricane Hazel made landfall near the North Carolina/South Carolina border as a Category 4 storm, on the morning of October 15. Hazel struck Myrtle Beach, South Carolina before moving north. It passed over Raleigh, North Carolina, still a strong Category 3 hurricane. Hazel accelerated to over 48 mph upon landfall and was centered over New York state and Pennsylvania by 4:30 p.m. EDT. Contrary to expectations, Hazel had not lost much intensity: winds of100 mph were measured in New York, and Pennsylvania.  What makes her unique is she drove inland from North Carolina from there the track move NW moving into western NYS and eventually impacting Toronto Canada. Before leaving the United States the storm had claimed 95 lives, of which the majority were drowning casualties. Though not near the center, a gust of 113 mph was recorded in Battery Park, the highest wind speed ever recorded within the municipal boundaries of New York City.

Hurricane Diane
August 17-19, 1955

Born in the tropical Atlantic, this storm reached Category 3 status, as it followed the path of Hurricane Connie of 5 days earlier. Maximum winds were recorded at 120 mph. Although it weakened to a Tropical Storm as it reached the Southern New England coast, ‘Diane’ dropped heavy rain of 10” to 20”, setting flood records throughout the region. The storm was blamed for between 185 and 200 deaths. The $832 million damage qualified it as the most costly hurricane in U.S. history until Hurricane Betsy in 1965.

Hurricane Donna
September 12, 1960

Hurricane Donna was a Category 5 Cape Verde-type hurricane that impacted most of the Caribbean Islands and every single state on the U.S. Eastern seaboard. It recorded 160 mph winds with gusts up to 200 mph. ‘Donna’ holds the record for retaining ‘major hurricane’ status of Category 3 or better in the Atlantic basin for the longest period of time. From September 2nd to September 11th it sustained winds of 115 mph as it roamed the Atlantic for 17 days. This storm is the only one on record to produce hurricane-force winds in Florida, the Mid-Atlantic States and New England. ‘Donna’ hit New England in Southeast Connecticut with sustained winds of 100 mph, gusting to 125-130 mph, cutting diagonally through the region to Maine. It produced pockets of 4” to 8” of rain as well as 5 to 10-foot storm surges. The storm ultimately killed 364, and caused over $500 million in damage.

Hurricane Gloria
September 27, 1985

Hurricane Gloria was a powerful Category 4 Cape Verde-type storm that prowled the Atlantic for 13 days, with highest winds of 145 mph. Hugging the coastline, as it made its way north, ‘Gloria’ crossed Long Island, New York, making landfall at Milford, Connecticut. In spite of arriving during low tide, it did cause severe beach erosion along the New England coast, as well as the loss of many piers and coastal roads. There was a moderate storm surge of 6.8 feet in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The storm left over 2,000,000 people without power. It dropped up to 6” of rain in Massachusetts, causing many flooding issues in the region. Overall, casualties were relatively low with 8 deaths, but damage reached $900 million.

Hurricane Bob
August 19, 1991
Formed east of the Bahamas, Hurricane Bob made landfall in New England near New Bedford, Massachusetts with 115 mph winds, cutting a path across Southeastern Massachusetts towards the Gulf of Maine. Peak winds of 125 mph were recorded in the Towns of Brewster and Truro on Cape Cod. Over 60% of the residents of Southeastern Massachusetts and Southeastern Rhode Island lost power. There were 4 different reports of tornados as ‘Bob’ came ashore. Buzzards Bay saw a 10 to 15-foot storm surge. A number of south-facing beaches on the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard lost 50 feet of beach to erosion. Up to 7” of rain was reported to have fallen throughout New England. ‘Bob’ was blamed for 18 storm-related deaths. The damage total for Southern New England was set at $1 billion, with $2.5 billion overall damage from the storm.

So you see you can never take a hurricane lightly.


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