The Hurricanes of the 1940s in Virginia and North Carolina
The decade of the 1940s was not as an active one for hurricane landfalls
in Virginia and the Carolinas. The decade
featured only one significant hurricane - The Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944.
The Great Atlantic Hurricane of September 14, 1944
The Great Atlantic hurricane went virtually undetected until September 9, 1944 despite the implementation of aereal reconnaisance the previous year. The storm that was to become the Great Atlantic hurricane was of hurricane intensity when it was first detected several hundred miles northeast of the Windward Islands.
The hurricane tracked steadily west-northwest over the next several days and underwent a rapid uintensification as determined by an aircraft penetration on September 12, 1944. At this time reconnaisance aircraft reported winds strong enough to shear rivets off the wings of the aircraft. The "Great Atlantic" hurricane as the storm was referred to in a radio transmission was reported to have covered a diameter of 600 miles and possessed winds of 150 mph or more. The storm was probably of Category 5 intensity as determined from a central pressure of 909 millibars (26.85 inches of mercury).
The hurricane approached 75 West and began a recurvature which threatened the Mid-Atlantic region. Hurricane warnings were raised for North Carolina and Virginia on the afternoon of September 13th. The hurricane passed very near Cape Hatteras, N.C. shortly after 9:00 am September 14th. The barometric pressure at Cape Hatteras dropped to 947 millibars (27.97 inches of mercury) with the highest winds clocked at 110 mph. Click here to see the track of the Great Atnatic Hurricane of 1944
The Great Atlantic Hurricane passed 75 miles to the east of Norfolk just after noon on September 14th. At that time, hurricane force winds swept over portions of extreme southeast Virginia. Winds peaked at 73 mph in downtown Norfolk with gusts to 90 mph. At Cape Henry in Virginia Beach, peak 1-minute winds reached 134 mph with momentary gusts to 150 mph, the highest ever observed at any site during the hurricane. The lowest barometric pressure reported during the hurricane at Norfolk was 985.7 millibars (29.11 inches of mercury). The high winds were the result of intensive convective activity which occurred in the western semi-circle of the storm. Over 4 inches of rain fell in a three and a half hour period from 10:00 am to 1:30 pm. Fortunately for the area the hurricane passed at the time of low tide and tides only reached 6.0 feet above MLLW with little or no flooding reported. The bulk of the damage was due to the hurricane force winds which brought down numerous trees in the area.
The great hurricane moved on to produce record wind gusts in Atlantic City, N.J., New York, N.Y. and Block Island, R.I.