Gloria: The Last Connecticut Hurricane

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Recent storms such as Hurricane Sandy (2012) and Tropical Storm Irene (2011) were memorable, but Hurricane Gloria was the last storm to directly strike Connecticut as a hurricane, as it did on September 27th, 1985.

Connecticut is no stranger to tropical systems. As far as hurricanes go, Connecticut averages one direct hit from a hurricane every 15 years. Do some quick math and Connecticut is theoretically long overdue. (Tropical Storm Floyd (1999) and Tropical Storm Irene (2011) have come close and those did hit Connecticut pretty hard, but those weakened below hurricane status before reaching the state)

Gloria’s impact:
Hurricane Gloria made landfall in Milford as a Category 1 Hurricane The strongest official winds reported were gusts to 92 MPH at Bridgeport and 83 MPH at Waterbury.

Wind damage was major across a large portion of the state. Irene had wind gusts on the order of 30 to 50 MPH for mainly western CT, whereas Gloria had wind gusts over 50 MPH across nearly all of the state.

Until 2011, Gloria had been the #1 storm, in terms of most power outages across CT. There were 534,485 power outages (CL&P) as a result of the hurricane. The October nor’easter of 2011 and Irene both eclipsed that number.

Rainfall was actually fairly low compared to other tropical systems. Most of the state saw just 1 to 3 inches of rain, which although it is a lot, some tropical systems have dumped over 10 inches in CT.

Did you know?

  • Gloria was a very fast moving hurricane, as it was moving at about 45 MPH as it passed through CT. The only tropical systems to be moving faster were Edna at 46 MPH in 1954 and the Hurricane of 1938, which was moving at about 51 MPH.
  • Rainfall amounts were on the low side for a tropical system, partially due to the fast speed of the storm. The other factor was the track. Since Gloria’s center passed through the western half of CT, and the heaviest rain usually falls on the wide side of hurricanes, heavier rain actually fell west of CT.
  • Gloria was originally recorded as a Category 2 Hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 90 MPH at CT landfall, but a re-analysis adjusted that back to about 75 MPH. (wind observations were more indicative of a Category 1 storm, than of a Category 2 one)
  • The storm hit near low tide, so the storm surge impact was only moderate. The storm surge at Groton was 5 feet.
  • Damage across Long Island was very extensive. Wind gusts up to 115 MPH were recorded, but with the storm weakening, winds were not nearly as strong in CT.

Keep in mind that statistically, CT is due for a direct hurricane. Any hurricane that were to directly strike CT would most likely be more severe than Tropical Storm Irene was. If Gloria had been moving slower and occurred near high tide, the storm would have been significantly worse in terms of damage.

One last tidbit…the tracks of Gloria and Irene were very similar. The two systems paralleled each other, with Irene passing about 25 miles west of Gloria.

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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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