Worst of the worst: A look back on devastating hurricanes in New England

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Here's a snapshot of some of the worst hurricanes/tropical storms to hit New England:

Aug. 25,1635: The Great Colonial Hurricane was the first historical record of an intense hurricane in the region. Some refer to it as America's first recorded natural disaster. The storm's eye is believed to have passed between Boston and Plymouth causing at least 46 casualties.

Sept. 23, 1815: The Great September Gale was the first major hurricane to impact New England in 180 years. After crossing Long Island, N.Y., the storm came ashore at Saybrook, Conn., funneling an 11-foot storm surge up Narragansett Bay. There, it destroyed 500 houses, 35 ships and flooded Providence, R.I.

Sept. 21, 1938: The Great Hurricane. This Category 5 was the first major hurricane to strike New England since 1869. The Blue Hill Observatory, outside of Boston, measured sustained winds of 121 mph, with gusts of 183 mph. Providence, R.I., reported sustained winds of 100 mph, gusting to 125 mph. Rainfall of 10 to 17 inches caused severe flooding in Western Massachusetts. In all, 600 deaths were attributed to the storm.

Sept. 14-15, 1944: The Great Atlantic Hurricane produced 140-mph winds and caused over $100 million in damage, as well as 390 deaths, mostly at sea.

Aug. 21, 1954: Hurricane Carol, a compact, but powerful, borderline Category 3 battered New England, killing 68. With 100 mph winds, gusting up to 135 mph, Carol caused over $460 million in damage, destroying 4,000 homes, 3,500 cars, and over 3,000 boats. This was arguably the most destructive storm to hit Southern New England since 1938.

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Aug. 17-19, 1955: Hurricane Diane dropped up to 20 inches of rain, setting flood records throughout the region. Diane was recognized as the wettest tropical cyclone to impact New England and was blamed for nearly 200 deaths.

Sept. 12, 1960: Hurricane Donna recorded 160 mph winds with gusts up to 200 mph. 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. The storm killed 364, and caused more than $500 million in damage.

Sept. 27, 1985: Hurricane Gloria hugged the coastline; as it made its way north, Gloria crossed Long Island, making landfall at Milford, Conn. The storm left more than 2 million people without power.

Aug. 19, 1991: Hurricane Bob made landfall in New England near New Bedford with 115 mph winds. The damage total for Southern New England was set at $1 billion, with $2.5 billion overall damage.

Sept. 16-17, 1999: Hurricane Floyd's worst impact was flooding, with mudslides in the Berkshires and road closures.

Aug. 28, 2011: Tropical Storm Irene slammed into the Northeast leaving badly damaged homes and roads in its wake. Federal aid in Berkshire County topped $30 million.

Source: Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security; Eagle archives.


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