For three horrific days, the Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962 relentlessly lashed nearly 500 miles of the Eastern Seaboard, from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to Cape Cod Massachusetts.
The Ash Wednesday Storm and Hurricane Hazel in 1954 remain (and hopefully will continue to remain) the two storms us Outer Bankers compare new coastal storms to that affect our beloved coast. Fortunately, the Outer Banks was spared of any major tropical storms during the 2013 hurricane season and we’ve had a relatively calm winter so far.
I came across this striking vintage photo taken in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina during the storm and thought it might me interesting to share some quick facts about the weather system with our followers who aren’t locals, or are too young to remember the nor’easter of 1962 that’s forever in the minds of area historians.
Facts about the Ash Wednesday Storm
- The nor’easter occurred on March 6-8, 1962 along the Mid-Atlantic coast of the United States.
- It was considered by the U.S. Geological Survey to be one of the most destructive storms to ever hit the Mid-Atlantic States.
- The Ash Wednesday Storm is considered to be one of the ten worst storms in 20th century United States history.
- Lingering through five high tides over a three day period, the storm killed 40 people, injured over 1,000, and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage over six states.
- The devastating storm was caused by an unusual combination of three pressure areas combined with atmospheric conditions of the spring equinox which normally causes abnormally high tides.
- The Ash Wednesday Storm stalled in the Mid-Atlantic for almost three days, pounding coastal areas with continuous rain, high winds, and tidal surges.
If you’d like to learn more about the Ash Wednesday storm, I recommend checking out a great article written by 30-year newspaper veteran Frank Tursi titled Remembering the Ash Wednesday Storm published on the North Carolina Coastal Federation website.