Normally I do not discuss tropical storms and hurricanes that much on Route 20 Weather because 9 years out of every 10 years, we usually dodge any tropical systems due to tropical systems heading either westward into the southeastern United States or northeastward into the open Atlantic well south of New England. This year, however, I am very concerned that we could see a tropical storm or hurricane either make a direct landfall on Southern New England or make a very, very close pass to the area. There are some credible reasons why I am raising the alarm. The big reason is because of the overall weather pattern we seem to be locked into so far this summer. There is a huge ridge of high pressure over the far western United States with a trough of low pressure centered around the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes region. This weather pattern has put Southern New England into a very moist, very humid southerly wind flow found on the eastern side of this trough. This is the reason for the extraordinarily heavy rainfall that the area has seen so far this month (As of this morning, I have received a little over 11 inches of rainfall so far this month here in Indian Orchard). This is a weather pattern that is very reminiscent of the summers of 1938 and 1955. Why is this an eyebrow raiser to me? Because both years saw significant impacts from a tropical system in Southern New England. 1938 with one of the strongest hurricanes to ever impact Southern New England (Struck on September 21st as a Category 3 hurricane with 120-130 mph sustained winds) with major damage found well inland in both Springfield and Worcester. I’ve studied the 1938 New England hurricane extensively and it really, really scares me to think of the damage that would occur if a similar hurricane impacted New England now. Most of, if not all of Southern New England would be without power for weeks – not days, weeks, if not months in some areas. In addition, the tree damage would be immense with tens of thousands of trees snapped or uprooted across all of Southern New England. A look at the weather history of 1938 reveals that the Summer was very wet, very humid and downright miserable. In fact, we are right now either breaking or tying rainfall records from July of 1938. The other year that seems to be a close match to this summer is 1955. That year saw impacts here in Southern New England from both Hurricanes Connie and Diane. Even though both hurricanes made landfall in eastern North Carolina, the extremely heavy rainfall from both storms combined with the extremely wet ground due to a very wet summer led to catastrophic flooding across Southern New England. Even though there isn’t much you can do now because we don’t even know if there’s definitely going to be a tropical storm or hurricane impact in August or September in Southern New England, I do recommend to keep track of tropical activity this season more than you usually would. Also, perhaps you should review the many Hurricane Preparedness websites that are out there – just in case. There are two types of tropical systems that can impact Southern New England that you should be aware of. The first is the tropical system that initially forms near the Bahamas and is pulled northward by a trough of low pressure to the west. Unfortunately, these types of tropical systems do not give us much time to prepare (usually 2 to at most 3 days). This is the type of track Hurricane Carol took in late August of 1954 and the type of track Hurricane Bob took in mid August of 1991. The second type of track to keep an eye on is the long track storm that initially forms way out by the west coast of Africa and takes up to 2 weeks to cross the Atlantic. This is the type of tropical system that gives us plenty of notice that it is on the way. Hurricanes that have impacted New England that took this type of path include the 1938 Hurricane and Hurricane Gloria (late September of 1985). Please realize that everything that I have written today is not meant to scare you. Instead, it is meant to prepare you and inform you of what may be in store as we head towards August and September. Remember this quote - “Be prepared rather than scared”. With my forecasts and updates, you will have more than enough warning of any incoming tropical systems that may impact Western and Central Mass. You will not be caught under warned with us and in fact you will probably be “over warned” with my updates.
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