MA, NY, NC Hurricane EDNA, Sept 1954

Hurricane Edna, Sept 1954

Hurricane Edna was a deadly and destructive major hurricane that impacted the United States East Coast in September of the 1954 Atlantic hurricane season. It was one of two hurricanes to strike Massachusetts in that year, the other being Hurricane Carol. The fifth tropical cyclone and storm of the season, as well as the fourth hurricane and second major hurricane, Edna developed from a tropical wave on September 2. Moving towards the north-northwest, Edna skirted the northern Leeward Islands as a tropical depression before turning more towards the west. The depression attained tropical storm status to the east of Puerto Rico and strengthened further to reach hurricane status by September 7. The storm rapidly intensified and reached its peak intensity of 125 mph (205 km/h) north of the Bahamas before weakening to Category 2 status near landfall in Massachusetts on September 11. Edna transitioned into an extratropical cyclone in Atlantic Canada before its remnants dissipated in the northern Atlantic.

Edna caused 20 fatalities throughout its lifetime as a tropical cyclone, as well as a moderate amount of damage. It first caused rainfall-induced flooding in Puerto Rico, and it later brushed the Bahamas. High waves affected the coastline of North Carolina. Edna resulted in the heaviest day of rainfall in New York City in 45 years, while strong waves cut off Montauk from the remainder of Long Island. There were six highway deaths in the state, and $1.5 million in crop damage. There were widespread evacuations in southern New England, after Hurricane Carol struck the same area only 11 days prior. Strong winds caused extensive power outages for 260,000 people, including nearly all of Cape Cod. Edna became the costliest hurricane in the history of Maine, where the hurricane caused flooding that washed out roads and rail lines. There were 21 deaths in New England, eight of whom in Maine due to drownings. Later, high winds severely damaged crops in Atlantic Canada.

Edna's path near North Carolina was about 50 mi (80 km) east of Carol. Winds blew at up to 70 mph (110 km/h) along the shore, accompanied by strong surf, although no fatalities or major property damage resulted from the storm. Tides at Norfolk, Virginia were only slightly above normal during the storm's passage to the east, and winds were moderate in strength. Peripheral rainfall in Maryland and Delaware eased drought conditions. In coastal New Jersey, northwesterly winds reached 65 mph (105 km/h), and Long Branch received around 4 in (100 mm) of rainfall. Further north, Long Island also suffered moderate to strong winds, blowing from the north at their peak. A Weather Bureau station in New York City recorded 45 mph (72 km/h) winds midday on September 11.Rainfall reached 4.98 in (126 mm) in the city, becoming the wettest day in 45 years. The storm cut off Montauk Point on eastern Long Island at its height, prompting the Coast Guard to temporarily relocate 500 families. Rainfall in Suffolk County amounted to 9 in (230 mm). Crop damage in New York was estimated at $1.5 million, and six people died in the city due to highway deaths.

When Edna struck New England, it was moving quickly to the northeast at 45 mph (72 km/h). It struck eastern Massachusetts about 100 mi (160 km) east of where Hurricane Carol struck only a week prior. Hurricane-force winds affected much of the coastline, with peak gusts of 120 mph (190 km/h) on Martha's Vineyard offshore Massachusetts, and 110 mph (180 km/h) on Block Island offshore Rhode Island. Along the coast, wind gusts peaked at 100 mph (160 km/h) at Hyannis, Massachusetts. The high winds caused widespread power outages, including for nearly all of Cape Cod. The storm surge reached 6 ft (1.8 m) along the Massachusetts coast, causing flooding and heavy boating damage. Further west, there was lesser coastal flooding, although heavy rainfall after previously wet conditions caused urban and stream flooding; rainfall peaked at around 11 in (280 mm). Damage in Connecticut and Rhode Island was mainly in areas already affected by Hurricane Carol. Several streets were washed out, and rivers rose above flood stage.

Damage was heaviest in Maine, estimated at $25 million, which made Edna the costliest hurricane in the state's history. Strong wind gusts, reaching 74 mph (119 km/h), and heavy rainfall, peaking at 7.49 in (190 mm), extended into the state; these were considered the heaviest rains in the state in 58 years. The Androscoggin and Kennebec rivers both reached above-normal levels, causing flooding and washing out roads. In Augusta, the Kennebec River reached 20.5 ft (6.2 m), which was 5 ft (1.5 m) above the peak level after the spring snow melt. Flooding entered basements, affected fields, and covered bridges. In West Peru, the floods washed out a bridge that was under construction. In addition, the winds downed trees, which blocked widespread roads and caused power outages in 18% of the state. Washed out roads and rail lines cut off the state from the rest of New England. In Lewiston, a trapped car in 5 ft (1.5 m) deep waters required rescue by boat. Another stranded family was rescued after seven hours in Unity, in which one child and a rescuer were killed. There were eight deaths in the state, most of whom related to cars being swept away by floods.

There were 21 deaths in New England, including eight drownings in Maine. Throughout the United States, damage was estimated at $42,815,000. Damage was less from Edna than from Carol, primarily due to its strongest winds not occurring at the time of highest tides, and its track farther to the east. Throughout New England, 260,000 people lost power, most of whom in Massachusetts.