New Jersey’s worst five hurricanes

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Six months after Hurricane Sandy ravished the Jersey Shore with a one-in-a-lifetime amount of destruction, few realize the worst may be yet to come.

The disturbing fact is that Hurricane Sandy’s fury was a minor league event when compared to the major storms that have ransacked the state. These are the top-five hurricanes to strike the Jersey Shore:

Hurricane Sandy (2012)

Yes, the Oct. 29 monster that rose out of the Atlantic and toppled trees, flooded homes and washed keepsakes out to sea must be considered among the top five. What Sandy lacked in power, however, she made up for in timing and size. Sandy struck the Jersey Shore just a few hours before high tide and brought with her record water levels in New Jersey and New York.

Hurricane Sandy also combined with other systems to create a 1,500-mile-wide coastal low that delivered snow to West Virginia while temperatures reached the upper-60s in New England at the same time.

However, Hurricane Sandy’s peak wind gusts never reached 100 mph in New Jersey and she could only churn up sustained winds in the 70-80 mph range.

What would happen if a stronger hurricane hit New Jersey?

Well, more than one already has.

The 1821 Norfolk and Long Island Hurricane

On Sept. 3, 1821, the Norfolk and Long Island Hurricane made landfall as a category 4 monster storm near Cape May. The 1821 hurricane carried with it a five-foot storm surge and sustained winds of 135 mph. Some estimates claim 200-mph gusts accompanied the storm when it came ashore. Luckily, the storm made landfall 10 days after the full moon or the storm surge would have been even higher..
Damage reports were unclear because Cape MayCounty only had about 4,000 year-round-residents at the time.

The 1821 Hurricane went up the spine of New Jersey and delivered Sandy-like flooding in Manhattan in New York City.

Hurricane-force winds were felt as far inland as Philadelphia.

Great Hurricane of 1804

The Great Hurricane of 1804 made landfall near Atlantic City as a strong category 2 or weak category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of more than 110 mph. In Atlantic City, ships were driven ashore. A ferry at Trenton sank because of rough waters created by the hurricane force winds.

The Great Hurricane of 1804 also delivered more than a foot of snow across portions of New England.

The Great Hurricane of 1903

The Hurricane of 1903 slammed into the JerseyShore on Sept. 16 and caused considerable damage from Cape May to Asbury Park. Hurricane force winds downed telephone and telegraph wires across the coast, ripped the roofs off of 60 cottages and destroyed the railroad bridge to Brigantine. Most Jersey Shore fishing piers were severely damaged or destroyed.

The Hurricane of 1944

Though the Hurricane of 1944 didn’t make landfall in New Jersey, it has remained infamous for the amount of damage caused along the Jersey Shore. Homes in Harvey Cedars were washed out to sea. Hundreds of homes were destroyed up and down the coast. The shore towns on Long Beach Island, Ocean City, Cape May, Barnegat and Atlantic City all suffered major damage. The causeways to Long BeachIsland and Barnegat were washed out. The Steel Pier and Heinz Pier in suffered major destruction.

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