1815 New England hurricane

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Great September Gale
Category 4 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Formed before September 22, 1815 (1815-09-22)
Dissipated September 24, 1815 (1815-09-25)
Highest winds 1-minute sustained: 135 mph (215 km/h)
Lowest pressure ≤ 947 mbar (hPa); 27.96 inHg
(Estimated [1])
Fatalities 38+ direct
Damage $12.5 million (2005 USD)
Areas affected New England
Part of the 1815 Atlantic hurricane season

The Great September Gale of 1815 (the word "hurricane" was not yet current in American English at the time) is one of five "major hurricanes" (Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale) to strike New England since 1635.[2] At the time it struck, the Great September Gale was the first hurricane to strike New England in 180 years.[3]

After striking on Long Island, the hurricane caused major damages in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.[4]


The storm struck Long Island on September 23, 1815, probably coming ashore near Center Moriches (Ludlum). On the south shore of Long Island it broke through the barrier beach and created the inlet that still isolates Long Beach, which had previously been an eastward extension of The Rockaways. Then in New England it came ashore at Saybrook, Connecticut. The storm delivered an 11-foot (3.4 m) storm surge that funneled up Narragansett Bay where it destroyed some 500 houses and 35 ships and flooded Providence, Rhode Island, where a line on the Old Market Building marked the storm surge that was unexampled in the city until the New England Hurricane of 1938, which brought a 17.6-foot (5.4 m) storm surge. There is still a worn plaque on the Rhode Island Hospital Trust building (built in 1917), along with a newer plaque showing the higher 1938 hurricane water level. At Matunuck, Rhode Island, sediment studies have identified the overwash fan of sediments in Succotash Marsh, where the 1815 hurricane storm surge overtopped the barrier beach.

In Dorchester, Massachusetts, just south of Boston, local historian William Dana Orcutt wrote in the late 19th century of the hurricane's impact: "In 1815 there was a great gale which destroyed the arch of the bridge over the Neponset River. This arch was erected over the bridge at the dividing line of the towns [Dorchester and Milton] in 1798." Dorchester's First Parish Meeting House was too badly damaged to repair.[5]

The eye passed into New Hampshire near Jaffrey and Hillsborough.[6]


In the aftermath of the Great Gale, the concept of a hurricane as a "moving vortex" was presented by John Farrar, Hollis Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Harvard University. In an 1819 paper he concluded that the storm "appears to have been a moving vortex and not the rushing forward of a great body of the atmosphere".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Microsoft Word - MASTER_MASTER Oct 23.doc
  2. ^ Hughes (1987), referring to the Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635, the 1821 Norfolk and Long Island hurricane, “Hurricane Four” of the 1893 Atlantic hurricane season, and the New England Hurricane of 1938.
  3. ^ Norcross, Bryan (2006). Hurricane Almanac 2006: The Essential Guide to Storms Past, Present, and Future. Macmillan. p. 34. ISBN 0-312-36297-8. 
  4. ^ "1815- The Great September Gale". Hurricanes: Science and Society. September 1815. Retrieved 28 September 2014. 
  5. ^ Dorchester Reporter, Dorchester MA USA
  6. ^ Welcome - Homeland Security & Emergency Management, NH DOS

Further reading[edit]

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