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Near Miss - Offshore Hurricane of September 2, 1940
(Hurricane # 4)

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This storm falls into the near miss category as it did threaten the east coast and cause some high winds at Nantucket and then passed very close to Eastport, Maine before dissipating over Canada.

It was first observed as a tropical depression located to the east of Florida on August 30. Later that same day, a ship located near 32.2N 72.4W reported storm force winds from the east-southeast and a barometer of 978.7 millibars (28.90 inches). On August 31, ship reports indicated that the storm had strengthened into a hurricane moving toward the north-northwest. On September 1 the storm had turned toward the north-northeast and pressures as low as 965 millibars (28.5 inches) were reported from ships in the vicinity of the storm. During that morning the storm was located about 100 miles east of Cape Hatteras and moving at between 10 and 12 miles per hour.

The hurricane remained offshore, passing very close to the 40/70 benchmark during the pre-dawn hours on September 2 and then no more than 75 miles east of Nantucket Island around sunrise. At Nantucket the lowest pressure recorded was 993 millibars. A peak 5 minute wind of 57 miles per hour with a gust to 65 mph was also recorded at Nantucket. The hurricane weakened during the day and moved through the gulf of Maine and into the Bay of Fundy that evening, passing between Eastport, Maine and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. The storm moved inland over New Brunswick before dissipating over Quebec on September 3.

In the following passage from Weather Bureau severe storm reports for September 1940 it is noted that severe flooding in southwestern New Jersey on September 1st was attributable to "a tropical disturbance" but it is unlikely that these rains were directly associated with the hurricane:

"Rainfall measured from 4.50 to 10.52 inches within 12 hours at most stations. Number of small rivers flooded breaking several dams. Property damage, mostly to highways and bridges, is estimated at more than $1,000,000. It is remarkable, however, that no rain fell at the coastal stations of New Jersey from this storm"

It is more likely that the flooding rains in southwest New Jersey resulted from a trough along the east coast that helped keep the hurricane from recurving. The weather map from 9/1/1940 shows rainfall west of a line from central North Carolina through eastern Virginia, the central Delmarva, southeastern New Jersey, western Long Island, western Connecticut, central Massachusetts and extreme southeastern New Hampshire. East of that line, the only rainfall that occurred was over the North Carolina outer banks which were the closest locations to the offshore hurricane that day.

In the northeast, rainfall from the hurricane seems to have spread as far west as Block Island, RI, and north of there some bands of rain progressed into the rest of eastern New England. Most locations had only light amounts of rain with the exception of extreme southeast New England, especially Nantucket Island where over 2.5 inches of rain was recorded.

Some wind and rain reports for the hurricane are listed in the tables below:

LOCATION SPEED DIRECTION
DATE
Nantucket, MA 57 mph NE 9/2
Eastport, ME 42 mph NE 9/2
Boston, MA 33 mph NE 9/2
Portland, ME 30 mph E 9/2
Nantucket, MA     2.52"

Hatteras, NC        0.96"

Eastport, ME        0.61"

Boston, MA         0.15"

Block Island, RI    0.06"

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