Hurricane Carol followed same path in '54
A man clings to a tree on Long Island during Hurricane Carol in August 1954.
August 26th, 2011
03:36 PM ET

Hurricane Carol followed same path in '54

In the final week of August 1954, Hurricane Carol wheeled along the East Coast on a course closely matching the path projected for Hurricane Irene this weekend.

The storm touched the Outer Banks of North Carolina, then followed the contour of the coast, skipping across the eastern tip of Long Island and plowing into Connecticut.

Pushed by sustained winds of 80 to 100 mph and exacerbated by high tides, storm surges reached more than 14 feet in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, according to a National Weather Service archive.

The strongest wind ever recorded on Block Island, Rhode Island - 135 mph - occurred during that 1954 storm.

Entire communities were devastated in New London, Groton, and Mystic, Connecticut, as well as from Westerly to Narragansett, Rhode Island, according to HurricaneScience.org.

Yet the storm was compact in comparison to Irene. According to the historical reports, western areas in Connecticut and Massachusetts saw much lower winds and comparatively minor damage.

The hurricane lost strength as it streaked north through New Hampshire and into Canada.

Carol killed at least 65 people and destroyed nearly 4,000 homes, about 3,500 vehicles and more than 3,000 boats, according to the weather service.

Hurricanes Edna and Hazel also struck the East Coast, but Florida and the Gulf Coast were generally spared in that unusual year, according to HurricaneScience.org.

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Filed under: Connecticut • History • Hurricanes • Massachusetts • Natural Disasters • Rhode Island • U.S. • Weather
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. DerpDiggler

    Looks like the old man there bought a one-way ticket to Oz!

    August 26, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vigla

      I think he's trying to save the tree!

      August 26, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. nancy

    We sure hope everyone will be safe

    August 26, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Boo

    Its a heck of a time to be planting a tree!

    August 26, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. gung hoe

    Wow 54 had to dig deep to find that one

    August 26, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joan OC West Hartford, CT

    I was at Groton Long Point when Carol slammed into the penisula without any warning. The upshot my mother, niece and I had to climb out of the window of the cottage onto higher ground to escape the flooding waters.
    However, I am thankful we did not have to endure all the frightening media coverage of today!

    August 26, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Margaret

    Remember "54" in Stonington boats from the harbor smashing around in our back yard, men came to the front door in row boats to evacuate us. After the villiage was carpeted in rainbow colored beads they used at the mill to make plastic bottles,

    August 26, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Peter

    I was a little boy in 1954 during Carol, but I will never forget the big tree in our front yard bent all the way over touching the ground as I looked out the window at the height of the storm. Saw a neighbor's chimney blow over. Lots of broken car windshields and telephone poles down with wires all over the place. No power for two or three days. It was big. Hope this is not the same.

    August 26, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rida

      Were you in Manhattan?

      August 27, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. William

    Gung hoe. Funny dig deep. Like lots of research-so true

    August 27, 2011 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
  9. Rida

    It is going to dissipate.

    August 27, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • smitty

      in 2012 after obama is gone!

      August 27, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Marti

    I wonder if people back in 1954 blamed Eisenhower for Carol like people want to blame Obama today for...everything.

    August 28, 2011 at 1:28 am | Report abuse |
  11. Jim D

    I was a boy of 13 when the eye Carol (1954) went over our house in Warwick, RI. Some facts: No one knew it was coming; we just woke up to it. It traveled very fast from Georgia/ North Carolina to Rhode Island overnight basically. Downtown Providence, a metropolitan area, had 11 feet of water among the many tall buildings due to the narrowing Narragansett Bay and storm surge. In the downtown Industrial Trust Building, the name at the time, a bronze plaque was placed at the High water mark, above the Great New England Storm (Some call it the Long Island Express) of 1938 that killed hundreds and was still there up to ten years ago. As the storm passed and during the calm of the eye I got on my bike on Fairfax Dr, Pilgrim Park to explore the damage and was blown back to my house as the eye moved north over me. Damage was very bad and took weeks to get power and years to recover. The have since built a hurricane barrier on the N. Bay to stop the flooding of 1938 and 1954. It was closed for Irene this morning for the first time in over 20 years. I live in Florida for the past fifty years and have not seen one like Carol 1954 since but I was just out of harms way during ANDREW thank God. That was catastrophic.

    August 28, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Carole Teague

    I was 10 years old in Riverhead, LI in a summer bungalow with my grandmother and 8 year old cousin, Angela. We did not know it was coming and I remember my grandma made me and my cousin sit in a corner of a bathroom holding on to each other while the hurricane pounded the bungalow. We had the old fashioned shutters that were held open with sticks and the sticks blew away and kept pounding the bungalow and a big tree in the front of the house kept pounding the house. If it had fallen it would have broken the bungalow in half. My grandmother was a very strong willed woman and it was the first time I had ever seen her fall apart and look very frightened. I will never forget that experience.

    August 29, 2011 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
  13. carol Robertson

    I was born during and named after Hurricane Carol.!!! I was born at 3:35 in the afternoon, Tuesday August 31, 1954. We were residents of Long Island. I have it tatood on my back!!!!

    August 29, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name*carol ritchey

      Me too!

      October 29, 2012 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
  14. Gregg

    One thing that is interesting related to this article and the recent "Hurricane Irene" - in 1954 there indeed was "Carol" which followed a similar path but it was actually "Hurricane Edna" that got into New York City as "Irene" did - "Edna" had 135 mile an hour winds as she rode up the coast but fortuneately kept the strongest winds to the Eastern side and more out to sea and was "side-swiping" the coast - however she was large enough that she spent 17 hours sending rains and gale force winds into NYC - they didn't "close down the city" as they did recently but they still warned people off the streets for their own safety. There are a number of excellent articles in the New York Times of that date written by both the Associated Press and "Times" reporters who were giving "eye witness" accounts. "Edna's" strongest winds were around 60 mph through the Wall Street/Times Square area and she sent in a 4.98 downpour - one article in the "Times" shares that a taxi driver out in the storm said the rain sounded like a buzzsaw on his roof. "Edna" then tore off into New England bringing much destruction into Mass., New Hampshire and Maine and clear into the Nova Scotia and New Brunswick sections of Eastern Canada. Many people may not realized that "Edna" blew through NYC on Sept. 11, 1954!! Of course now Sept. 11 means something more horrible but it's ironic that on of NYC's encounters with a hurricane type storm was on a past Sept. 11. I followed the "Irene" stories for several days and am surprised that no one (at least during the times I was watching) mentioned "Edna's" visit to the city back in 1954. And her path was almost the same also.

    August 30, 2011 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |