|Hurricane Irma, east of Puerto Rico, Sept 5, 2017|
1635: The Great Colonial Hurricane made landfall at
Narragansett Bay in late August as a fast-moving Category
3 hurricane. It crossed directly over the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Historians
consider this "… probably the most intense hurricane in New
1938: The practice of naming Atlantic hurricanes with women’s names did not begin until 1947; or retiring names of major storms after 1955, or having men’s names rather than only women’s starting in 1979. Thus, the storm of 1938 came be known as the Great New England Hurricane, also the Long Island Express. Mistakes in interpreting weather data had led to a prediction that this storm would dissipate to gale force before making landfall. Instead, on September 21, 1938, it reached
Island with hurricane force winds and a significant storm surge.
More than 600 people died – mostly in Rhode
Island. The oldest residents of Maynard and Stow remember vast numbers
of trees being blown down, blocking streets and damaging buildings.
|The 1938 hurricane downed trees and telephone poles on Maple Street,|
Maynard, MA. (courtesy Maynard Historical Society)
1954: A double-header! Hurricane Carol also crossed the east end of
Long Island, reaching landfall as a
Category 2 storm. In Boston, high winds
destroyed the steeple of the .
Hurricane Edna crossed Old
North Church Cape Cod as a Category
2 storm just ten days after Carol had tracked a bit farther west. Locally, rainfall
of 5 to 10 inches on ground already saturated by the passage of Carol flooded
basements and rivers. Combined, the storms destroyed much of the peach and
apple crops just weeks before harvest time.
1955: Hurricane Diane waltzed ashore in the Carolinas, wandered across
New Jersey and southern New York, before heading eastward across much of Massachusetts. By this
time it was weak wind-wise, but very, very wet. Much of southern Massachusetts, from its border with New York to the ocean, experienced flooding.
Half of Worcester
was under water. Locally, an estimated 15 inches of rain fell in four days. The
crested at 8.93 feet, the highest
it had been since 1927 and the highest since. (The flood of 2010 crested at 7.1
feet.) Assabet River Main Street
flooded, as did the first floor of the mill building closest to the river. No
bridges were lost.
1991: Hurricane Bob!!! This storm of August skirted the coast before making landfall at
as a Category 2
hurricane. Forecasting was good, so Newport,
Rhode Island Rhode Island
were able to declare of emergency before the storm hit. The storm crossed
fast and relatively dry, so most of the damage was due to high winds and storm
surge along the coast. Provincetown
reported sustained winds exceeding 100 miles per hour. Locally, downed trees
and minor damage to buildings. The name “Bob” was permanently retired, joining
Diane, Edna and Carol as other New England
hurricane names we will never hear anew.
One oddity - a storm tracking north along a west coast, much as Irma tracked north along the west side of Florida, will initially push water away from the shore, as wind direction on the north side of the storm is east to west. After the eye passes, the winds on the south side of the storm blow west to east, pushing all the water back.
All Irma delivered to eastern Massachusetts was scattered showers. Jose blessed Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket and the outer Cape with gale force winds and inches of rain, but much less west of Boston. Maria is too far away to guess what it will bring to New England.