Hurricane Gloria: “Storm of the Century”
September 16, 2022 • Enfield, Disaster, Middletown, Milford, Stonington, Weather
Computer generation of a hurricane over the northeast United States

Hurricane Gloria on September 27, 1985, directly above New England - National Weather Service, NOAA


On September 16, 1985, a Cape Verde tropical storm originated off the African coast. By the time it reached the Bahamas, the National Hurricane Center labeled it a Category 4 storm noting sustained winds of 130-145 miles per hour. The world watched weather satellite tracking as the hurricane raced toward the United States and America braced for the worst. Ultimately, the hurricane produced eight deaths in the United States, left three million people without electricity, forced the evacuation of almost 150,000 people, and did about $900 million dollars in damage.

Hurricane Gloria Pounds Connecticut

After hitting North Carolina’s Outer Banks and quickly moving up the coast, Gloria made landfall in Connecticut on September 27. As it moved north, the storm dropped heavy rainfall and sustained winds strong enough to knock out power to approximately 700,000 residents. Some residents were without power for more than a week and four communities, including Enfield and Middletown, suffered heavy damage to their wastewater facilities. Officials closed (either partially or entirely) over 100 state roads due to downed power lines and fallen trees.

A computer generation of the track that Hurricane Gloria took in 1985. The line curves and passes through the east coast of the United States and Canada

Track of Hurricane Gloria, September 15 through September 28, 1985 – National Weather Service, NOAA

Although inland areas suffered immensely, Connecticut’s coastline communities found themselves the hardest hit. From Milford to Stonington, the storm ripped boats from their moorings and piled them together in harbors and marinas. Waves slammed into homes, destroying structures and leaving others completely surrounded by water. In addition, electrical workers, some of whom came from as far away as Canada, needed to take additional safety precautions when working with power lines because the massive amounts of salt that came ashore actually conducted electricity.

The worst of the storm lasted only about two hours in Connecticut, before heading north and dissipating in Maine. The damage it caused in the state was estimated at $60 million.

Dubbed the “Storm of the Century,” Hurricane Gloria was the worst hurricane to hit Connecticut since 1938. After the storm, the World Meteorological Organization, who creates a yearly list of names for storms, retired “Gloria” from their name rotation.

Learn More

Websites

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Hurricane Gloria September 27, 1985.” National Weather Service, n.d. Link.
Tucker, Aimee. “New England History: Worst Hurricanes in New England History.” New England Today, September 7, 2021. Link.
Wilson, Greg. “Worst Hurricanes of All Time.” NBC CT, August 25, 2011. Link.

Newspapers

New Haven Register. “Hurricane Gloria Hit Connecticut 30 Years Ago Causing $60 Million in Damage,” September 26, 2015. Link.

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