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NJ History: The Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 Battered NJ on Sept. 14

On September 14 in 1944, an unnamed hurricane dubbed “The Great Atlantic Hurricane” battered 900 miles of the East Coast. The hurricane’s total death toll was 390, with most of them being marine casualties due to ship wreckage and sinkings. On land, the death toll was 46 people, with 338 people injured and thousands of buildings destroyed. 

New Jersey was especially hard hit, with nine people killed, 390 people injured (more than any other state), more than 3,000 homes damaged and more than 400 homes crushed and completely destroyed, according H.C. Sumner’s 1944 article, “The North Atlantic Hurricane of September 8-16 1944” in Vol. 72, No. 9 in Monthly Weather Review.

We combed the NJ State Archive’s photo archives to bring you photos of the damage the state suffered from their Dept. of Transportation collection.

IN HARVEY CEDARS

Harvey Cedars after the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 (Photo Credit: NJ State Archives via the Department of Transportation Collection)
Harvey Cedars after the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 (Photo Credit: NJ State Archives via the Department of Transportation Collection)
Harvey Cedars after the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 (Photo Credit: NJ State Archives via the Department of Transportation Collection)
Harvey Cedars after the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 (Photo Credit: NJ State Archives via the Department of Transportation Collection)

IN ATLANTIC CITY

Sumner writes that the term ‘Great Atlantic Hurricane’ was coined by the Miami weather authorities in advisory messages “in order to convey a proper description.”

The Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 in Atlantic City, Photo Credit, NJ State Archives via Dept. of Tranportation Collection 1
The Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 in Atlantic City, Photo Credit, NJ State Archives via Dept. of Tranportation Collection 1
Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 in Atlantic City, Photo Credit: NJ State Archives via Dept. of Tranportation Collection
Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 in Atlantic City, Photo Credit: NJ State Archives via Dept. of Tranportation Collection
Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 in Atlantic City, Photo Credit: NJ State Archives via Dept. of Tranportation Collection
Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 in Atlantic City, Photo Credit: NJ State Archives via Dept. of Tranportation Collection

IN CAPE MAY CITY

Sumner wrote in his report, “A weather officer aboard an army reconnaissance plane which became involved in the storm estimated the wind at about 140 miles per hour. He reported turbulence so great that with the pilot and the copilot both at the controls the plane could not be kept under control, and several times it was feared it would be torn apart or crash out of control. When they returned to base it was found that 150 rivets had been sheared off on one wing alone.

Cape May City after the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944, Photo Credit NJ State Archives via Dept. of Transportation Collection
Cape May City after the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944, Photo Credit NJ State Archives via Dept. of Transportation Collection
Cape May City after the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944, Photo Credit NJ State Archives via Dept. of Transportation Collection
Cape May City after the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944, Photo Credit NJ State Archives via Dept. of Transportation Collection
Cape May City after the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944, Photo Credit NJ State Archives via Dept. of Transportation Collection
Cape May City after the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944, Photo Credit NJ State Archives via Dept. of Transportation Collection

IN SEASIDE

A total of 51 warnings, advisories were issued by Hurricane Warning Centers for the 1944 Great Atlantic Hurricane at San Juan, Miami, Washington and Boston, according to the Monthly Weather Review report.  And in New York City, a total of 289,486 phone calls were received between Sept. 12 to 15.

Seaside Heights after the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 Photo Credit NJ State Archives via Dept. of Transportation Collection
Seaside Heights after the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 Photo Credit NJ State Archives via Dept. of Transportation Collection

Do you have memories of the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944? If so, share them in the comment form below.

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