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August 26, 2014

Reminiscing on One of New England’s Most Epic Hurricanes

On Monday, the National Weather Service office in Boston, Massachusetts, reminisced on “perhaps the strongest tropical system to make landfall in Southern New England.” The storm paralleled the East Coast, striking Long Island, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts on August 25th and 26th. Best estimates indicate the storm made landfall as a strong Category 3 with sustained winds of 111-129 mph. (For perspective, Sandy in 2012 had peak sustained winds of around 80 mph when it struck New Jersey.) Records also suggest Buzzards Bay was pounded by a 20’ storm surge. Now, the storm in question is not The Great Hurricane of 1938, a similar storm likewise remembered as one of New England’s most mesmerizing and fearsome hurricanes, nor any of the major storms of the 1950s. Rather, it’s The Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635 – 379 years ago. This comparison is not to downplay Sandy’s impacts, but it is to illustrate two points: We should always question the assertion that any particular event is the “worst ever.” Secondly, history shows that storms of similar and even greater magnitude occurred before man-made global warming supposedly led to more intense hurricanes. That is nothing short of a lie.

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