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The Chesapeake-Potomac Hurricane of 1933
(Hurricane #8 - August 23-24, 1933

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This hurricane originated in the central Atlantic well east of the Windward Islands around the 17th of August, 1933. It tracked northwest for several days, passing about 150 miles to the southwest of Bermuda where winds to 64 mph were reported on the 21st. From there it moved west-northwest approaching Cape Hatteras on the 22nd. At 4pm eastern time on August 22, the US Weather Bureau issued this bulletin:

"Atlantic coast disturbances central about 150 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, moving slightly north of west. Center will cross southern coast of North Carolina early Wednesday forenoon, preceded by dangerous shifting gales tonight between Virginia Capes and Southport, NC. Advise all interests."

A ship at sea had reported a barometer reading of 27.76 inches (940 millibars) alerting authorities to the strength of the hurricane. Landfall occurred just north of Cape Hatteras early on the 23rd of August and at 9:20 am the storm passed over Norfolk, VA. Norfolk reported a lowest barometer reading of 28.68 inches (971mb) and wind gusts to 70 miles per hour. Nearby, the winds gusted to 82 mph at Cape Henry and 88mph at the Norfolk Naval Air Station. The storm then moved up the west side of the Chesapeake Bay and by that evening was located near Washington, DC where a pressure of 28.94 inches (980mb) was reported.

At the time this was considered one of the most severe storms to have occurred along the middle Atlantic coast and much damage was reported from northeastern North Carolina through New Jersey, much of it from the storm tides experienced along the coast. At Norfolk, plate glass windows were reported blown out and a tide 7 feet above normal flooded the downtown business district. Major crop damage and coastal property damage was reported in Maryland all the way north to Baltimore. As the hurricane pushed its storm surge northward up the narrowing Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River, the tidal departures increased even more, reaching as much as 12 feet above mean low water on the Potomac. This caused severe flooding at Alexandria, Virginia and Washington, DC. Many of the high tide records set that day still stand today, although a few were seventy years later when Hurricane Isabel took a similar track just west of the Chesapeake Bay in 2003.

Some wind and rain reports for the hurricane are listed in the tables below:

LOCATION SPEED DIRECTION
DATE
Cape Hatteras, NC 62 mph NE 8/22
Cape Henry, VA 66 mph NE
Norfolk, VA (downtown) 57 mph 8/23
Norfolk naval Air Station 70 mph 8/23
Richmond, VA 39 mph NE 8/23
Washington, DC 35 mph NE 8/23
Baltimore, MD 50 mph NE 8/23
Atlantic City, NJ 65 mph E 8/23
Philadelphia, PA 42 mph SE 8/23
Reading, PA 52 mph E 8/23
New Haven, CT 31 mph E 8/23
Sandy Hook, NJ 39 mph S 8/24
New York, NY 51 mph SE 8/24
Providence, RI 32 mph S 8/24
Boston, MA 24 mph S 8/24
Central Park, NYC 2.37" (2.23" on 8/23 and 0.24" on 8/24)

Setauket, LI 1.32" (0.30" on 8/23 and 1.02 on 8/24)

Bridgehampton, LI 1.30" (0.01 on 8/23 and 1.29 on 8/24)

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