CAT 3 - August 31, 1954
On the morning of August 31, Hurricane Carol, the most destructive
hurricane to strike Southern New England since the Great New England
Hurricane of 1938, came crashing ashore near Old Saybrook, Connecticut,
leaving 65 people dead in her wake. Carol had developed in the Bahamas
several days earlier, making only slow progress northward. Carol began her
rapid acceleration during the evening of August 30, while passing just east of
Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Carol made landfall on eastern Long Island and
southeastern Connecticut about 12 hours later, moving at over 35 mph.
Sustained winds of 80 to 100 mph roared through the eastern half of
Connecticut, all of Rhode Island, and most of eastern Massachusetts. Scores
of trees and miles of power lines were blown down. Strong winds also
devastated crops in the region. Nearly 40 percent of apple, corn, peach, and
tomato crops were ruined from eastern Connecticut to Cape Cod. Several homes
along the Rhode Island shore had roofs blown completely off due to winds which
gusted to over 125 mph. The strongest wind ever recorded on Block Island,
Rhode Island occurred during Carol when winds gusted to 135 mph. The National
Weather Service in Warwick, Rhode Island recorded sustained winds of 90 mph,
with a peak gust of 105 mph. Lowest recorded pressure was at Suffolk County
Airport on the south shore of Long Island with a reading of 28.36. Block
Island reported 28.51 while Quonset Airport in North Kingstown, Rhode Island
Hurricane Carol arrived shortly after high tide, causing widespread tidal
flooding. Storm surge levels ranged from 5 to 8 feet across the west shore
of Connecticut, and from 10 to 15 feet from the New London area eastward.
Storm tide profiles show, as in 1938, how dramatically the tides increased
just before landfall across Narragansett Bay, the Somerset, Massachusetts
area and in New Bedford, Massachusetts Harbor. Narragansett Bay and New
Bedford Harbor received the largest surge values of over 14 feet in the upper
reaches of both water ways. On Narragansett Bay, just north of the South
Street Station site, the surge was recorded at 14.4 feet, surpassing that of
the 1938 Hurricane. However, since Hurricane Carol arrived after high tide,
the resulting storm tide was lower.
Coastal communities from central Connecticut eastward were devastated.
Entire coastal communities were nearly wiped out in New London, Groton, and
Mystic, Connecticut, as well as from Westerly to Narragansett, Rhode Island.
Once again, as in the 1938 Hurricane, downtown Providence, Rhode Island was
flooded under 12 feet of water.
Rainfall amounts ranged from 2 to 5 inches across most of the area. The
heaviest amounts, up to 6 inches, occurred in the New London, Connecticut area
in the vicinity of landfall, and across extreme north central Massachusetts.
Hurricane Carol destroyed nearly 4,000 homes, along with 3,500 automobiles
and over 3,000 boats. All of Rhode Island, much of eastern Connecticut and
much of eastern Massachusetts lost electrical power. In addition, as much as
95 percent of all phone power was interrupted in these locations.
This information was taken from "Southern New England
Tropical Storms and Hurricanes, A Ninety-eight Year Summary
1909-1997", by David R. Vallee and Michael R. Dion,
National Weather Service, Taunton, MA.