1.2 Modern Analysis of Precipitation Patterns Associated with the Great New England Hurricane

Monday, 8 January 2018: 9:00 AM
Room 2 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Lauren Carter, Plymouth State Univ., Plymouth, NH

The Great New England Hurricane of 1938 struck the New England coast on September 21, 1938 following four days of substantial rainfall. The heavily pre-saturated soil created conditions conducive to disaster, with the flooding and storm surge claiming over 600 lives. Deciphering the details behind the precipitation patterns of this particularly destructive hurricane using ground-data from 12-22 September 1938 was the goal of this project.

As with all storms before the time of radar and satellite data, the available records had to be digitized before they could be studied. The U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Hurricane Flood Records for September 1938 included data from 754 stations across the U.S. Northeast and Canada; however, the data wasn’t program-readable and there was no wide-spread consistency to when the measurements were taken (daily, weekly, midday, midnight, etc.). This led to a detailed combing of the data to separate the correct measurements into their respective days through the entirety of the 10-day event.

After the data were separated by day, maps were created in ArcMap 10.4 to study the USGS ground precipitation measurement-based patterns. Model runs from the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, initialized with 20th Century Reanalysis data, were used to reconstruct the upper-air patterns from September 17-22, 1938 to aid discussion of synoptic-scale phenomena that led to the destruction this hurricane and the prior rain event brought to New England.

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