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Past Hurricanes To Hit The Jersey Shore And Philadelphia Region

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- With the impending arrival of Hurricane Irene, we thought it might be interesting to take a look back at other massive storms to hit the New Jersey shore and Philadelphia region. We noticed a trend in the storms that caused significant damage to the region, much like the projected path of Hurricane Irene, most of those storms first hit North Carolina and the Outer Banks.

Cape May Hurricane of 1821 -- The last major hurricane to make a direct landfall in New Jersey. This storm, which was a Category Four Hurricane, struck Cape May on September 3, 1821, and had hurricane force winds go as far west as Philadelphia, while folks in New Jersey experienced wind gusts of up to 200 mph. The storm cut a path of destruction that is similar to that of the Garden State Parkway.

The Hurricane of 1846 -- Referred to as "The Great," used its northeast quadrant that caused havoc on the Delaware all the way up to Camden, New Jersey. This storm revealed the fact that Delaware Bay is open to southeast winds in the right quadrant, and water in the Bay would go upriver into cities such as Wilmington, Philadelphia, and Camden.

The "Hurricane" of 1903 -- The storm was indicated to be a hurricane by many in the media at the time, but it was in fact, a tropical storm with 70 mph winds along the coast. It was the first such tropical storm or hurricane to impact the Jersey shore in one hundred years. It was also called the "Vagabond Hurricane" since it caused such a stir in media outlets such as Philadelphia and New York, which had people covering the storm for the various newspapers in those cities.

The Great Hurricane of September, 1944 -- This is perhaps a forgotten storm in light of the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, and the Long Island Express of 1938. However, this was a memorable storm in its own right. Cape Henry in Virginia was hit with sustained winds of 134 mph, and gusts up to 150 mph. Meanwhile, in Norfolk, winds reached close to hurricane force while gusts went up to 90 mph. The powerful storm caused tremendous damage along the coast from North Carolina to New England with some 41,000 buildings damaged, and a death toll of 390 people. The storm cost some $100 million dollars in damage including $25 million in New Jersey alone, where some 300 homes were destroyed on Long Beach Island. More detailed information on this hurricane is at Greg Hoffman's Real Lousy Weather Page. -- According to wikipedia this hurricane caused serious damage to the Atlantic City and Ocean City boardwalks and many home in Cape May, Ocean City and Barngat were lost.

Hurricane Hazel -- A category four hurricane that smashed North Carolina in October, 1954, and then brought hurricane force winds as far inland as Canada. Passing 95 miles to the East of Charleston, South Carolina, Hazel made landfall very near the North Carolina and South Carolina border, and brought a record 18 foot storm surge at Calabash, North Carolina. Wind gusts of 150 mph were felt in Holden Beach, Calabash, and Little River Inlet 100 mph gusts were felt farther inland at Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York. Hazel carved a path of destruction that left over 600 dead, and damages exceeded $350 million 1953 U.S. dollars.

Hurricane Connie -- Was the first of three hurricanes to make landfall in the Carolinas in 1955. Some ten months after Hazel devastated the Tar Heel state, Connie made landfall over Cape Lookout, North Carolina on August 12, 1955. The storm produced heavy rains, tornadoes, and wind gusts up to 100 mph. The storm headed northward, and brought heavy rains in excess of 9 inches in Eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey while dumping over 12 inches in portions of New York City. (Connie had a very similar projected path to Hurricane Irene)

Hurricane Gloria -- Termed "The Storm Of The Century" at one point in its life. This Category Three Hurricane made landfall over the outer banks of North Carolina, and then moved up the East Coast of the United States on September 27, 1985. Estimated damage from this storm was $900 million dollars.

Hurricane Hugo
Hurricane Hugo (credit: Gary Williams/Getty Images)

Hurricane Hugo -- This Category Four Hurricane at landfall, carved a path from the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean to Charleston, South Carolina in September, 1989. At one point in its lifetime, Hugo reached Category Five intensity with 160 mph winds, and a minimum central pressure of 27.11 inches of Hg. Rapidly intensifying over the Gulf Stream, it came ashore in South Carolina with 135 mph winds. This storm ranks currently second all time in terms of estimated damage at $7 billion dollars.

Hurricane Floyd -- Also termed Storm of the Century at one point, Floyd caused the largest peacetime evacuation in history that involved 3,000,000 people from South Florida to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina as it bore down on the Southeast coast in September, 1999. It later made landfall as a Category Three Hurricane over North Carolina, and would bring up to 30 inches of rain from North Carolina to New Jersey spawning terrible floods. Floyd ranks third all time in damage with an estimated $4.5 billion dollars in damage althogh some estimates run as high as $6 billion.

Hurricane Floyd
Hurricane Floyd (credit: NOAA)

Information in this story was obtained from

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