This is a shot of Queens Creek way back in the spring on an unusually foggy morning. Here in Mathews, our proximity to the water guarantees a fair share of unusual weather patterns; we're definitely no stranger to bad storms. One in particular, however, stands out as one of the worst on record: the Great Storm of 1933.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the August 1933 storm was "one of the most severe storms that has ever visited the Middle Atlantic coast." This storm--a hurricane-- was "a slow-moving weather mass that dumped ten inches of rain a day for nearly a week even before wind gusts as high as 80 miles per hour and a 7-foot tide arrived."
Holy mackerel. (The Baltimore Sun didn't say that part. It's not really their style, but that's what they wish they could have said.)
Yes, holy mackerel. We've had some doozies around here in my day--Hurricane Isabel in 2003 left us without power for weeks, and Tropical Storm Ernesto caused more damage to our shoreline than Isabel--but ten inches of rain every day for seven days followed by 80 m.p.h. winds is fierce.
From page 67 of the book, "Gwynn's Island Times, News Items from the Mathews Journal, 1905-1937," compiled by Elsa Cooke Verbyla:
"August 24, 1933
COUNTY SWEPT BY DESTRUCTIVE NORTHEAST STORM
Northeast Gale and Tidal Wave Leave Wide Area in State of Devastation
Mathews County has suffered many discouraging setbacks, but never such a disaster as the storm which came raging out of the northeast Tuesday night with hurricane force. Never has there been such a storm here, certainly not in the memory of any living resident of the county.
Accompanying the wind came a tidal wave which swept over more than half of the county. Points never touched by salt water before were flooded to a depth of several feet.
The damage cannot be estimated with any accuracy. Those attempting to figure the destruction which practically every part of the county gazed on Wednesday morning, speak of it in terms of many thousands, even more than a million. Perhaps the most poignantly touching effect is the temporary loss of morale and the utter dejection with which many farmers and fishermen viewed the wreckage and ruin of what in many cases represented practically all they had been able to accumulate around them in a lifetime of hard work and saving. But above all, there was thankfulness, that no lives were lost and that, by some miracle, the raging waters subsided just as many homes were beginning to slip from their foundations."
This storm was well before my parents' time, however my grandmother would have been around. Chesapeake Bay Mother probably has some stories that she heard over the years.
For those of you in other parts of the globe, have you experienced a particularly bad weather event in your lifetime? Was there some story passed down in your family about a devastating event such as the Great Storm?
Stay tuned for Part II later in the week, assuming I remember to write it, and there's a 50-50 chance I won't.