HISTORICAL STORMS IN RHODE ISLAND
Hurricane of 1938
Hurricane of 1938 caused millions of dollars of damage and killed about 600 people in southern New England. The storm hit Rhode Island September 21, 1938 at a category 3 during a very large high tide and had sustained winds between 100 to 180 mph through the region. It was moving about 50 mph and produced a storm surge around 15 ft in the top of Narragansett bay with providence under a 20 ft storm tide. It is thought that much of the damage and deaths were due to poor awareness of the strength and even existence of the storm itself. Many did not think they had to evacuate because forecasts did not originally predict the hurricane was going to make landfall in New England. More information on the Hurricane of 1938 can be found in Sudden Sea by R. A. Scotti.
Hurricane Carol of 1954
Hurricane Carol hit Rhode Island on August 31, 1954. Carol also had sustained winds 80 to 100 mph but move only 35 mph and since it hit just after high tide, the tidal flooding was a little smaller. The storm still produced a storm surge between 12 and 14 ft with downtown providence under 12 ft of water. Carol killed 65 people and destroyed 4,000 homes.
March 2010 Floods
Three slow-moving low pressure systems dropped a massive amount of rain on southern New England from March 13 to March 30, 2010. The Pawtuxet River crested at 20.8 ft causing major flooding in Warwick, West Warwick and Cranston. The flooding also inundated the West Warwick Waste Water Treatment Plant releasing raw sewage into the river and surrounding areas. The Pawcatuck River also caused severe flooding in southern Rhode Island. This storm is exemplary of the fact that when thinking about resilience, coastal flooding should not be the only concern.
Tropical Storm Irene
Tropical Storm Irene hit Rhode Island August 27, 2011 with sustained winds at 71 mph. The storm produced a 4 ft storm surge with a an 8 ft storm tide. Unlike previous storms, Fox Point Hurricane Barrier was closed to protect downtown providence from flooding. Click HERE to see a video of the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier closing (via Providence Journal).
Superstorm Sandy hit Rhode Island on October 29, 2012. The storm had sustained winds of 51 mph as it reached Rhode Island and produced 4 to 6 ft of storm surge in the Narragansett Bay. The storm caused $11.2 million in damages and power outages across the state for many days.