Connecticut Hurricanes Since 1850

A huge effort is underway to reanalyze the entire Atlantic hurricane database which goes back to 1850 with Chris Landsea and the Hurricane Reanalysis Project. Basically a team of researchers is going back through old records and, using modern techniques, fixing inconsistencies in the old database. Some of the changes include changes to track and intensity of hurricanes. The new data set is complete through 1930 though preliminary research has been done on major east coast hurricanes including the 1938 and 1944 hurricanes along with Donna and Carol.

The findings for 1938, 1944, Carol, and Donna are preliminary and need to be accepted by the National Hurricane Center’s Best Track Committee though they are vastly superior to the previous inconsisent and sometimes erroneous data in the original data set. The new findings suggest that Carol was a category 2 hurricane in Connecticut and not a category 3.

Additionally hurricanes Gloria and Bob have not been reanalyzed yet but every indication is the current “official” rating of category 2 in Connecticut will be downgraded to a 1. In fact this has been apparent for years and most meteorologists I know just ignore the “official” ranking and call the storms cat 1 storms in this state.

If you crunch the numbers you find the average return time for a hurricane in Connecticut is 16 years.  Additionally the median date of a hurricane impact in Connecticut is September 13th with  half of all hurricanes striking between September 8th and September 21st.

Given the fact our climate has changed in the last 100 years, some of that due to man-made climate change, it’s unclear what impact that will have on future hurricane threats. There is some evidence to suggest stronger and less frequent hurricanes in a warmer climate regime but that is on a planetary-scale not a regional scale. I suppose warming water temperatures could allow stronger hurricanes to reach higher latitudes but that is just conjecture on my part and I have not  seen any research done into that possibility.

Bottom line is that we are vulnerable to hurricanes. We’re probably more vulnerable than we think. And we could become even more vulnerable in the next 100 years due to a changing climate.

Storm #3 – September 16, 1858

  • Category 1 in Connecticut
  • Landfall in Easthampton, NY & Groton, CT
  • 80 m.p.h. sustained winds at CT landfall
  • 979mb pressure at CT landfall

Storm #6 – September 8, 1869

  • Category 1 in Connecticut
  • Catuegory 3 in Rhode Island and Massachusetts
  • Landfall in Montauk, NY & Westerly, RI
  • 115 m.p.h. sustained winds at RI landfall
  • 965mb pressure at Rhode Island landfall

Storm #4 – August 24, 1893

  • Category 1 in Connecticut
  • Landfall in Queens, NY
  • 85 m.p.h. sustained winds at landfall
  • 986 mb pressure at NY landfall

Storm #5 – October 10, 1894

  • Category 1 hurricane in Connecticut
  • Landfall in Patchogue, NY & Clinton, CT
  • 85 m.p.h. sustained winds at NY landfall
  • 978mb pressure at NY landfall

Great Atlantic Hurricane – September 15, 1938

  • Category 3 in Connecticut
  • Landfall in Brookhaven, NY & New Haven, CT
  • 120 m.p.h. sustained winds at NY landfall
  • 115 m.p.h. sustained winds at CT landfall
  • 941 mb pressure at NY landfall
  • 946 mb pressure at CT landfall

Great Atlantic Hurricane – September 15, 1944

  • Category 1 hurricane in Connecticut
  • Landfall in Matunuk, RI
  • 85 m.p.h. sustained winds at landfall
  • 955 mb pressure at landfall

Hurricane Carol* – August 30, 1954

  • Category 2 hurricane in Connecticut
  • Landfall in Easthampton, NY & Groton, CT
  • 115 m.p.h. sustained winds for both NY/CT landfalls (though category 3 winds remained east of CT/RI border)
  • 955 mb pressure at landfall

Hurricane Donna* – September 12, 1960

  • Category 1 hurricane in Connecticut
  • Landfall in Patchogue, NY & Old Saybrook, CT
  • 100 m.p.h. sustained winds at NY landfall
  • 962 mph pressure at NY landfall

Hurricane Gloria** – September 27, 1985

  • Category 1 hurricane in Connecticut
  • Landfall in Babylon, NY and Milford, CT
  • 85 m.p.h. winds at landfall in NY
  • 961mb pressure at landfall in NY

Hurricane Bob** – August 19, 1991

  • Category 1 hurricane in Conneticut
  • Category 2 hurricane in Rhode Island and Massachusetts
  • Landfall in New Shoreham, RI (Block Island)
  • 105 m.p.h. sustained winds at RI landfall
  • 962mb pressure at RI landfall

Notes:
* Preliminary Reanalysis results complete and final details awaiting confirmation from NHC best-track committee.
**Reanalysis work currently underway and the stats represent a “best guess” given current data and input from fellow meteorologists.

Connecticut Hurricane Stats

  • Average Hurricane Return Time – 16 years
  • 6 out of 10 hurricanes that produced hurricane conditions in Connecticut made landfall in the state.
  • 4 out of 10 hurricanes that produced hurricane conditions in Connecticut made landfall in either Rhode Island or New York (Westchester or New York City).
  • 8 out of 10 hurricanes were category 1 storms in CT
  • 1 out of 10 hurricanes was a category 3 storm in CT (1938)
  • 1 out of 10 hurricanes was a category 2 storm in CT (Carol)
  • 6 out of 10 hurricanes struck in September
  • 3 out of 10 hurricanes struck in August
  • 1 out of 10 hurricanes struck in October
  • Earliest hurricane in  Connecticut was Hurricane Bob (8/19/1991)
  • Latest hurricane in Connecticut was the 1894 hurricane (10/10/1894)
  • Median date for a hurricane strike – September 13th
  • Highest wind speed for Connecticut landfall – 115 m.p.h.
  • Lowest pressure for a Connecticut landfall – 946 mb
  • Longest period in between hurricanes – 45 years (1894 to 1938)
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One thought on “Connecticut Hurricanes Since 1850

  1. Fascinating, Ryan! How cool to be able to go back in time, and using current scientific technology, analyze “vintage” weather!

    Here are a few photos taken right after the ’38 hurricane, in Stony Creek, Branford. I have quite a few others, just not much time to scan and clean them up, but I’ll get them done one of these days. Pics in blog are clickable thumbnails:
    http://artandcolour.blogspot.com/2010/05/theres-got-to-be-morning-after.html

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