1821 Norfolk and Long Island hurricane

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Norfolk and Long Island Hurricane
Category 4 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
1821 Atlantic Hurricane Track Map.png
Estimated track of the hurricane
FormedSeptember 1, 1821 (1821-09)
DissipatedSeptember 4, 1821 (1821-09-05)
Highest winds 1-minute sustained:135 mph (215 km/h)
Lowest pressure < 995 mbar (hPa); 29.38 inHg
(≤965  mbar estimated [1] )
Fatalities ≥22 direct
Damage $200,000 (1821 USD)
Areas affected North Carolina, Mid-Atlantic States, New England
Part of the 1821 Atlantic hurricane season

The 1821 Norfolk and Long Island Hurricane was one of four known tropical cyclones that have made landfall in New York City. Another, even more intense hurricane in pre-Columbian times (sometime between 1278 and 1438) left evidence that was detected in southern New Jersey by paleotempestological research. [2] The third was the 1893 New York hurricane, and the fourth was Hurricane Irene in 2011.

Paleotempestology The study of past tropical cyclone activity using geological proxies and historical documents

Paleotempestology is the study of past tropical cyclone activity by means of geological proxies as well as historical documentary records. The term was coined by Kerry Emanuel.

1893 New York hurricane Category 3 North Atlantic hurricane in August 1893

The 1893 New York hurricane, also known as the Midnight Storm, was a powerful and destructive tropical cyclone that struck the New York City area in August 1893. First identified as a tropical storm on August 15, over the central Atlantic Ocean, the hurricane moved northwestward for most of its course, ultimately peaking with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph (185 km/h) and a minimum barometric pressure reading of 952 mbar. It turned due northward as it approached the U.S. East Coast and struck western Long Island on August 24. It moved inland and quickly deteriorated, degenerating the next day.

Hurricane Irene Category 3 Atlantic hurricane in 2011

Hurricane Irene was a large and destructive tropical cyclone which affected much of the Caribbean and East Coast of the United States during late August 2011. The ninth named storm, first hurricane, and first major hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season, Irene originated from a well-defined Atlantic tropical wave that began showing signs of organization east of the Lesser Antilles. Due to development of atmospheric convection and a closed center of circulation, the system was designated as Tropical Storm Irene on August 20, 2011. After intensifying, Irene made landfall in St. Croix as a strong tropical storm later that day. Early on August 21, the storm made a second landfall in Puerto Rico. While crossing the island, Irene strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane. The storm paralleled offshore of Hispaniola, continuing to slowly intensify in the process. Shortly before making four landfalls in the Bahamas, Irene peaked as a 120 mph (190 km/h) Category 3 hurricane.

Contents

The first of three recorded tropical cyclones recorded in the 1821 Atlantic hurricane season, the storm that would eventually strike New York was first observed off the southeast United States coast on September 1, with winds estimated in excess of 135 mph (215 km/h). It moved ashore near Wilmington, North Carolina, and passed near Norfolk, Virginia before moving through the Delmarva Peninsula and New Jersey just inland. On September 3, the hurricane struck approximately near Jamaica Bay, which later became part of New York City, and on September 4 it was observed over New England. This was just 6 years after the destructive Great September Gale of 1815.

Tropical cyclone Rapidly rotating storm system

A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure center, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, strong winds, and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce heavy rain. Depending on its location and strength, a tropical cyclone is referred to by different names, including hurricane, typhoon, tropical storm, cyclonic storm, tropical depression, and simply cyclone. A hurricane is a tropical cyclone that occurs in the Atlantic Ocean and northeastern Pacific Ocean, and a typhoon occurs in the northwestern Pacific Ocean; while in the south Pacific or Indian Ocean, comparable storms are referred to simply as "tropical cyclones" or "severe cyclonic storms".

Wilmington, North Carolina City in North Carolina, United States

Wilmington is a port city and the county seat of New Hanover County in coastal southeastern North Carolina, United States.

Norfolk, Virginia Independent city in Virginia, United States

Norfolk is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. At the 2010 census, the population was 242,803; in 2017, the population was estimated to be 244,703 making it the second-most populous city in Virginia after neighboring Virginia Beach.

Meteorological history

A tropical cyclone was first observed on September 1 off the southeast coast of the United States. Initially, it was believed to be the same storm that struck Guadeloupe on the same day, though subsequent research indicated there were two separate storms. [3] The hurricane tracked by the Bahamas while tracking generally northward, and it attained major hurricane status over the western Atlantic Ocean. As it approached the United States coastline, the hurricane was very intense, with winds estimated at over 135 mph (215 km/h) and potentially as strong as 160 mph (260 km/h), or a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale. [4] Late on September 2, the hurricane made landfall near Wilmington, North Carolina and later turned to the northeast to cross the Pamlico Sound. [5]

Guadeloupe Overseas region and department in France

Guadeloupe is an insular region of France located in the Leeward Islands, part of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. Administratively, it is an overseas region consisting of a single overseas department. With a land area of 1,628 square kilometres and an estimated population of 400,132 as of January 2015, it is the largest and most populous European Union territory in North America.

Tropical cyclones are unofficially ranked on one of five tropical cyclone intensity scales, according to their maximum sustained winds and which tropical cyclone basin(s) they are located in. Only a few scales of classifications are used officially by the meteorological agencies monitoring the tropical cyclones, but some alternative scales also exist, such as accumulated cyclone energy, the Power Dissipation Index, the Integrated Kinetic Energy Index, and the Hurricane Severity Index.

Pamlico Sound The largest lagoon along the North American East Coast

Pamlico Sound in North Carolina in the US is the largest lagoon along the North American East Coast, extending 80 mi (130 km) long and 15 to 20 miles wide. It is part of a large, interconnected network of lagoon estuaries that includes Albemarle Sound, Currituck Sound, Croatan Sound, Pamlico Sound, Bogue Sound, Core Sound, and Roanoke Sound. Together, these sounds, known as the Albemarle-Pamlico sound system, comprise the second largest estuary in the United States, covering over 3,000 sq. mi. of open water.(Chesapeake Bay is the largest.) The Pamlico Sound is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Outer Banks, a row of low, sandy barrier islands that include Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Cape Lookout National Seashore, and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. The Albemarle-Pamlico Sound is one of nineteen great waters recognized by the America's Great Waters Coalition.

The hurricane accelerated northeastward, and passed over the Hampton Roads area early on September 3. After crossing the Chesapeake Bay, the cyclone traversed the Delmarva Peninsula near the Atlantic coastline, [5] and at around 1500  UTC the eye passed directly over Cape Henlopen, Delaware; a thirty-minute period of calm was reported. It continued across the Delaware Bay and later passed over Cape May, New Jersey, where a fifteen-minute calm was reported. [6] Modern researchers estimate it was a Category 3 or Category 4 hurricane upon striking New Jersey, one of the few hurricanes to hit the state. [7] [8] Moving ashore at very low tide, [2] it paralleled the state's coastline just inland, and after exiting into Lower New York Bay the hurricane made landfall on New York City at around 1930 UTC on September 3; this makes it the only major hurricane to directly hit the city. [1] A minimal hurricane in 1893 also made landfall on what later became part of New York City. [9] One modern researcher estimates the hurricane was moving at a forward speed of 35 mph (55 km/h), and upon moving ashore had a pressure of 965  mbar. [1] The hurricane continued northeastward through New England, and after entering Massachusetts on September 4 its exact path was unknown; [10] one researcher estimated the cyclone tracked northeastward until losing its identity over southeastern Maine, [5] while another assessed the storm as passing far to the west of Maine. [11]

Chesapeake Bay An estuary in the U.S. states of Maryland and Virginia

The Chesapeake Bay is an estuary in the U.S. states of Maryland and Virginia. The Bay is located in the Mid-Atlantic region and is primarily separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Delmarva Peninsula with its mouth located between Cape Henry and Cape Charles. With its northern portion in Maryland and the southern part in Virginia, the Chesapeake Bay is a very important feature for the ecology and economy of those two states, as well as others. More than 150 major rivers and streams flow into the Bay's 64,299-square-mile (166,534 km2) drainage basin, which covers parts of six states and all of Washington, D.C.

Delmarva Peninsula peninsula

The Delmarva Peninsula, or simply Delmarva, is a large peninsula on the East Coast of the United States, occupied by Delaware and parts of the Eastern Shores of Maryland and Virginia. The peninsula is 170 miles (274 km) long. In width, it ranges from 70 miles (113 km) near its center, to 12 miles (19 km) at the isthmus on its northern edge, to less near its southern tip of Cape Charles. It is bordered by the Chesapeake Bay on the west, the Delaware River, Delaware Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean on the east, and the Elk River and its isthmus on the north.

Eye (cyclone) region of mostly calm weather at the center of strong tropical cyclones

The eye is a region of mostly calm weather at the center of strong tropical cyclones. The eye of a storm is a roughly circular area, typically 30–65 km (20–40 miles) in diameter. It is surrounded by the eyewall, a ring of towering thunderstorms where the most severe weather and highest winds occur. The cyclone's lowest barometric pressure occurs in the eye and can be as much as 15 percent lower than the pressure outside the storm.

Based on the arrangement of effects in New England, meteorologist William C. Redfield deduced that the wind field and center of tropical cyclones are circular; previously the winds were believed to be in a straight line. [11]

William Charles Redfield American meteorlogist

William Charles Redfield was an American meteorologist. He was the first president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1843).

Impact

The continuous cataracts of rain swept impetuously along, darkening the expanse of vision and apparently confounding the heaven, earth and seas in a general chaos

The Norfolk Herald [5]

In North Carolina, a powerful storm surge flooded large portions of Portsmouth Island; residents estimated the island would have been completely under water had the worst of the storm lasted for two more hours. Strong winds occurred across eastern North Carolina, resulting in at least 76 destroyed houses. Numerous people were killed in Currituck. [6]

North Carolina State of the United States of America

North Carolina is a state in the southeastern region of the United States. It borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west, Virginia to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. North Carolina is the 28th-most extensive and the 9th-most populous of the U.S. states. The state is divided into 100 counties. The capital is Raleigh, which along with Durham and Chapel Hill is home to the largest research park in the United States. The most populous municipality is Charlotte, which is the second-largest banking center in the United States after New York City.

A storm surge, storm flood, tidal surge or storm tide is a coastal flood or tsunami-like phenomenon of rising water commonly associated with low pressure weather systems, the severity of which is affected by the shallowness and orientation of the water body relative to storm path, as well as the timing of tides. Most casualties during tropical cyclones occur as the result of storm surges. It is a measure of the rise of water beyond what would be expected by the normal movement related to tides.

Currituck, North Carolina Unincorporated community in North Carolina, United States

Currituck is an unincorporated community in extreme northeastern North Carolina, United States. Situated along the Currituck Sound, it serves as the county seat for Currituck County. Currituck is part of the Inner Banks region and is one of the state's few unincorporated county seats. The community harbors the Knotts Island Ferry, which provides free shuttles across the sound to Knotts Island. North Carolina Highway 168 and Courthouse Road are the community's most prominent roads. The Currituck Beach Lighthouse is not located on mainland Currituck, but is located across the sound on the Outer Banks.

The strongest winds of the hurricane lasted for about an hour in southeastern Virginia, after which the storm rapidly abated. Several houses were completely destroyed, with many others receiving moderate to severe damage. The winds destroyed most of the roof of the courthouse, and uprooted trees across the region; fallen tree limbs damaged a stone bridge in Norfolk. The hurricane produced a strong storm surge along the Virginia coastline, which reached 10 feet (3 m) at Pungoteague on the Delmarva Peninsula. The storm surge, which reached several hundred yards inland, destroyed two bridges and flooded many warehouses along the Elizabeth River. Rough waves grounded the USS Guerriere and the USS Congress, and also destroyed several schooners and brigs. Along the eastern shore, the storm surge flooded barrier islands along the Atlantic coastline, causing severe crop damage and downing many trees. Several houses were destroyed, and at Pungoteague the impact of the hurricane was described as "unexampled destruction"; five people drowned in Chincoteague. Considered one of the most violent hurricanes on record in the Mid-Atlantic, the hurricane caused $200,000 in damage in Virginia (1821 USD, $3.1 million 2007 USD). [5]

Gale-force winds affected the Delmarva Peninsula; on Poplar Island in Talbot County, Maryland, winds peaked at 1600  UTC on September 3. [6] The strongest winds were confined to the Atlantic coastline, with outer rainbands producing heavy rainfall in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland. [12] Fierce winds were observed in Cape Henlopen, Delaware, with the strongest gales occurring after the eye passed over the area. [6]

Upon making landfall on Cape May, New Jersey, the cyclone produced a 5-foot (1.5 m) storm surge on the Delaware Bay side of the city. [12] Lasting for several hours, the hurricane-force winds were described as "[blowing] with great violence", [6] causing widespread devastation across the region. [12] Wind gusts in Cape May County reached over 110 mph (180 km/h), and around 130 mph (210 km/h) in Atlantic County. [13] In Little Egg Harbor, the hurricane damaged to the port. Strong winds reached as far inland as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where winds of over 40 mph (60 km/h) downed trees and chimneys; in the city, precipitation accrued to 3.92 inches (99.6 mm). Further to the north, the hurricane destroyed a windmill at Bergen Point, New Jersey. [12] Though the hurricane struck at low tide, it produced a storm surge of over 29 feet (9 m) along several portions of the New Jersey coastline, causing significant overwash. [2]

The hurricane produced a storm surge of 13 feet (4 m) in only one hour at Battery Park, a record only broken 191 years later by Hurricane Sandy. Manhattan Island was completely flooded to Canal Street; one hurricane researcher remarked that the storm surge flooding would have been much worse, had the hurricane not struck at low tide. [14] However, few deaths were reported in the city, since the flooding affected neighborhoods much less populated than today. [15] The hurricane brought light rainfall as it passed New York City, though strong winds left severe damage across the city. High tides occurred along the Hudson River. Strong waves and winds blew many ships ashore along Long Island. One ship sank, killing 17 people. Along Long Island, the winds destroyed several buildings and left crops destroyed. [12]

In New England, the hurricane produced widespread gale-force winds, with damage greatest in Connecticut. [10] The Black Rock Harbor Light in Black Rock, Connecticut, was destroyed on September 21. [12] [16] Elsewhere in the state, the winds damaged or destroyed churches, houses and small buildings. Moderate crop damage to fruit was reported as well. Strong winds extended into eastern Massachusetts, though little damage was reported in the Boston area. [10] Hurricane force winds reached as far north as Maine. [13]

Historical context

The Swiss Re insurance company estimates that a hurricane with the exact track of the 1821 storm would cause $107 billion in direct property damage in 2014. Damage would reach over $1 billion in Atlantic and Ocean counties in New Jersey and New Haven, and Hartford counties in Connecticut. Damage would reach over $2 billion in Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island, as well as Fairfield County, Connecticut. Indirect losses, including lost tax revenue and lower real estate, would reach nearly $250 billion nationwide for a similar storm. The damage would be far greater than what occurred during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, [13] which caused $65 billion in damage in the country when it struck New Jersey. [17]

See also

Related Research Articles

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