1944 Great Atlantic hurricane
|Category 4 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)|
|Formed||September 9, 1944|
|Dissipated||September 15, 1944|
|Highest winds||1-minute sustained: 145 mph (230 km/h)
|Lowest pressure||933 mbar (hPa); 27.55 inHg|
|Fatalities||300 - 400 direct (mostly at sea)|
|Damage||$100 million (1944 USD)|
|Areas affected||North Carolina, New York, New England, Atlantic Canada|
|Part of the 1944 Atlantic hurricane season|
A hurricane was first detected on September 9, northeast of the Lesser Antilles. It likely developed from a tropical wave several days before. It moved west-northwestward, and steadily intensified to a 145 mph (233 km/h) major hurricane on the 12th, northeast of the Bahamas. Around this time, the Miami Hurricane Warning Office designated this storm "The Great Atlantic Hurricane" to emphasize its intensity and size, which appears to be the first time a name was designated by the office which evolved into the National Hurricane Center. The hurricane turned northward and hit the Outer Banks later that day.
Moving rapidly to the northeast, the hurricane maintained its strength first giving a strong and destructive glancing blow to the Jersey Shore before making landfall on Long Island on September 15, hitting as a Category 2 hurricane. Shortly thereafter it crossed the Rhode Island coastline, and after emerging into the Massachusetts Bay it hit Maine, just before becoming extratropical. The post-tropical system continued northeastward, and merged with a larger extratropical low on the 16th, south of Greenland.
The hurricane caused $100 million in damage ($965 million in 2010 USD), roughly one-third of the 1938 hurricane. 390 lives were lost during the hurricane; most from marine casualties. 46 deaths occurred on land, the low toll due to well-executed warnings and evacuations.
This storm wreaked havoc on Hatteras Island, North Carolina causing the residents to relocate the entire village of Kinnakeet a few miles further south. Just off Oregon Inlet, it sank two United States Coast Guard Cutters, USCGC Jackson (WSC-142) and USCGC Bedloe (WSC-128), with a loss of 48 men.
The hurricane was infamous for the amount of damage it caused along the New Jersey coastline. The shore towns on Long Beach Island, as well as Barnegat, Atlantic City, Ocean City, and Cape May all suffered major damage. Long Beach Island and Barnegat Island both lost their causeways to the mainland in the storm effectively cutting them off from the rest of New Jersey. Additionally both islands lost hundreds of homes, in particular the Harvey Cedars section of Long Beach Island where many homes in the town were swept out to sea. In Atlantic City the hurricane's storm surge forced water into the lobbies of many of the resorts famous hotels. The Atlantic City boardwalk suffered major damage along with the citys famous ocean piers. Both the famed Steel Pier and Heinz Pier were partially destroyed by the hurricane with only the Steel Pier getting rebuilt. Ocean City and Cape May also lost many homes in the storm with Ocean City's boardwalk suffering significant damage. Larry Savadove devotes a whole chapter in his book Great Storms of the Jersey Shore to the hurricane and the imprint and lore it left on the Jersey Shore.
The storm was also responsible for sinking the Navy destroyer USS Warrington (DD-383) approximately 450 miles (720 km) east of Vero Beach, FL, with a loss of 248 sailors. The hurricane was one of the most powerful to traverse the Eastern Seaboard, reaching Category 4 when it encountered the Warrington, and producing hurricane force winds over a diameter of 600 miles (970 km). The hurricane also produced waves in excess of 70 feet (21 m) in height. The hurricane and the sinking of the USS Warrington are documented in the 1996 book The Dragon's Breath - Hurricane At Sea, written by Commander Robert A. Dawes, Jr. (a former Commanding Officer of the Warrington), and published by Naval Institute Press.
In addition to the Warrington and the Coast Guard Cutters Bedloe and Jackson, this hurricane claimed the 136-foot (41 m) long minesweeper USS YMS-409 which foundered and sank with all 33 on board lost. Further north, it also claimed the Lightship Vineyard Sound (LV-73), which was sunk with the loss of all 12 aboard. It also drove the S.S. Thomas Tracy aground in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
- List of tropical cyclones
- List of Atlantic hurricanes
- List of Delaware hurricanes
- List of North Carolina hurricanes
- Rothovius, Andrew (September 13, 1984). "The great Atlantic hurricane". The Peterborough Transcript. pp. 4, 6.
- Hairr, John (2008). The Great Hurricanes of North Carolina. Charleston, SC: History Press. pp. 105–124. ISBN 978-1-59629-391-5.
- Savadove, Larry (1997). Great Storms of the Jersey Shore. West Creek, NJ: Down the Shore Publishing. pp. 53–96. ISBN 978-0-945582-51-9.
- Photos of the damage to the New Jersey shore after the 1944 Great Atlantic Hurricane
- 1944 Great Atlantic Hurricane HPC rainfall site