Great New England Hurricane of 1635 Even Worse Than Thought





he winds whipped up to 130 mph, snapping pine trees like pick-up sticks and blowing houses into oblivion. A surge of water, 21 feet high at its crest, engulfing victims as they desperately scurried for higher ground.

The merciless storm, pounding the coast for hours with torrential sheets of rain, was like nothing ever seen before. One observer predicted the damage would linger for decades.

This wasn't New Orleans in August 2005. This was New England in August 1635, battered by what was later dubbed "The Great Colonial Hurricane" — the first major storm suffered by colonial North American settlers, just 14 years after the initial Thanksgiving celebration in Plymouth Colony....

"The settlers easily could have packed up and gone home," said Nicholas K. Coch, a professor of geology at Queens College and one of the nation's foremost hurricane experts. "It was an extraordinary event, a major hurricane, and nearly knocked out British culture in America."

Last year, Coch used information that he collected from detailed colonial journals to reconstruct the great hurricane. The 371-year-old data was brought to Brian Jarvinen at the National Hurricane Center, where it was interpreted using the SLOSH (Sea, Lake and Overland Surges from Hurricanes) computer model.

The result: The hurricane likely tracked farther west than was thought, passing over uninhabited easternmost Long Island before moving north into New England. Once clear of the colonies, it veered off into the Atlantic.

Previously, researchers had believed the hurricane missed Long Island — which always annoyed Coch.



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