Connecticut Hurricanes

hurricane_gloria

In 1985, After a 25 year hurricane “drought”, Hurricane Gloria threatened the area. Due to its’ strength, large size and forecast track towards New York City, it was one of the biggest weather stories of the 1980s.

The storm made landfall near Milford, Conn. with winds around 85 miles per hour sustained. A gust to 83 mph was even reported at Oxford Airport, which is well inland. Since tides were relatively low at the time, the storm surge was not nearly as severe as it could have been. With that said, coastal communities still suffered major beach erosion. The worst damage inland was from gusty winds that brought down many trees and power lines.

To date, it is the most comparable storm to Tropical Storm Irene for several reasons:

  1. The track was almost the exact same as Irene, as Gloria only passed about 15 miles further east.
  2. The amount of damage from Gloria was similar to Irene.
  3. Connecticut and New York City were preparing for a direct hurricane hit.

If Irene had taken the same track, it could have been worse than Gloria, as less land interaction would have likely resulted in less weakening of the storm. As for Gloria, 29 years ago, that was the last hurricane to make a direct landfall in Connecticut.

hurricane_donna

Hurricane Donna (1960)
This was a very unique storm given its’ track right along the East Coast. As a result, it is the only modern-day storm to impact Florida, the mid-Atlantic states and New England with hurricane force conditions.

Although it was a weakening storm, it still brought strong winds and heavy rainfall to Connecticut. Sustained winds were about 95 miles per hour when it made landfall in the southeast corner of the state. Some accounts of a 5 to 10 foot storm surge accompanied the storm.

Hurricane Carol (1954)
One of the strongest hurricanes to impact Connecticut, this storm brought massive flooding and strong winds.

Carol was a relatively compact storm, so the strong winds only affected eastern Connecticut, as well as adjacent Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The storm traveled up the Gulf Stream towards Long Island, maintaining category 2 strength. When looking back, this is one of the worst possible tracks for a hurricane. As a result, it remained a relatively powerful storm as it made landfall over Groton. There were many reports of calm conditions and clearing skies in that area as the eye passed directly overhead. The highest recorded winds were in the neighboring town of New London, where gusts reached 110 miles per hour. Slightly further east, record high winds of 135 miles per hour were observed on Block Island.

The major storm surge destroyed many coastline properties. Further inland, strong winds caused significant crop damage and caused many trees and power lines to come down. The total storm damage in 2012 USD would be over 3.5 billion dollars.

To add insult to injury, Hurricane Edna would threaten the area less than two weeks later. Thankfully, that storm tracked further to the east, bringing the worst effects to Cape Cod. Still, additional heavy rain impacted Connecticut and caused residual flooding.

Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944
Hurricanes were generally not named yet at this point in history, but forecasters named this storm due to its’ large size and potential to impact a large portion of the East Coast.

This storm grazed the New Jersey coast before curving and slamming into southeastern Connecticut. Although it was still a hurricane, the worst damage was not from the wind. The only county in the state to really have sustained hurricane force winds was New London County. Heavy rain did cause widespread flooding across the state.

Coming only 6 years after the hurricane of 1938, the area was much better prepared and took the warnings very seriously. As a result, many lives were spared. Unfortunately, many lives were lost at sea, largely due to the fact that ships were stationed during World War II.

Hurricane of 1938:
One of the most devastating hurricanes to impact the United States happened right here, in New England of all places, back in 1938. In fact, it is regarded as the worst natural disaster in Connecticut’s 350-year history.

There were three major factors which caused this storm to be particularly catastrophic:

  1. Forecasters predicted the storm to stay out to sea. They could not be more wrong as it made a direct landfall on Long Island and then Connecticut. Since the storm was moving so fast, at 60 miles per hour, people had virtually no warning about the impending disaster.
  2. The strength of the storm. It was a major, category 3 hurricane when it made landfall just east of New Haven. Sustained winds were between 120 and 125 miles per hour. Countless homes were destroyed and entire towns along the shoreline were washed away.
  3. Storm surges. The most deadly force in hurricanes is usually the storm surges. Water levels rose 14 to 18 feet along the coast, meaning that hundreds of thousands of structures were completely washed away.

An estimated 700 people throughout New England lost their lives, while damage costs reached approximately $41.1 billion 2012 USD.

Hurricane of 1893
Although it was just a Category 1 storm in both Connecticut and New York City, it was quite the disaster. It is only one of two recorded hurricanes in published history to have made a direct hit in the City. Thankfully, the area was not as densely populated as it is today.

The storm may be most well-known for its damage in the City, including a 30-foot storm surge, but strong winds up to 80 miles per hour slammed the western portion of Connecticut.

Click here to read about other tropical storms and near-misses.

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Quincy

Quincy is a meteorologist and storm chaser who travels around the country documenting and researching severe weather. He has on-air experience with stations such as WTNH-TV in New Haven, CT and WREX-TV in Rockford, IL. He was most recently a digital meteorologist for weather.com.

After achieving his B.S. degree in Meteorology at Western Connecticut State University (WCSU) in 2009, he returned as a University Assistant to help produce weather broadcasts. He also gave guest lectures and worked on website design.

He has over nine years of professional weather forecasting experience and his forecasts have been featured in newspapers and on radio stations in multiple states.

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