Hurricane Bob-(1991)

  • Dates: August 16th to August 29th
  • Minimum Central Pressure: 950 Mb
  • Category: 3
  • Rainfall In Maine: 7.83 inches-Portland
  • Category in Maine: Tropical Storm
  • Maine Damage: $26 Million
  • Maximum Winds: 115 mph
  • Maine Injuries: 2
  • Maximum Maine Winds: 61 mph
  • Maine Deaths: 3

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    On August 16th, a tropical depression formed 200 miles to the east of the Bahamas. This storm moved slowly to the northwest and intensified. By the end of the next day, the storm had become a hurricane and was named Bob as it was the second storm of the season.

    As Bob became a hurricane, it began to move to the northeast and accelerated. By August 19th, the storm was located 30 to 35 miles to the east of Cape Hatteras, and was at its peak intensity of 115 mph. As the storm moved quickly northeast, it began to weaken over the colder waters. The storm made landfall near New Bedford, Massachusetts packing 98 mph winds. The storm cut a path across southeastern Massachusetts, and then into the Gulf of Maine. As it did this, it continued to weaken and began to lose its tropical characteristics. By 10 PM that evening, the storm made a second landfall in Rockland, Maine at which time it was downgraded to a tropical storm. The storm proceeded across eastern Maine, New Brunswick, and then out to sea on August 29th.

    Six tornadoes were associated with hurricane Bob. Four in North Carolina and two on Long Island, New York. These were confirmed, and there were 16 unconfirmed tornadoes reported including nine on Hatteras Island, NC, 2 in Rhode Island, and 2 in Massachusetts. There was also one possible tornado reported in St. Albans.

    Massachusetts took the brunt of the storm surge as it was in the eastern half of the storm. The storm surge was estimated at 7 to 9 feet in Buzzards Bay. A twelve foot storm surge was recorded in Rhode Island.

    On Cape Cod, the damage was severe. Trees and Wires were down everywhere, and power was out for a week in many areas. Several houses were destroyed along the coast line due to either the winds or the storm surge.

    Heavy rain was also associated with this storm. Rainfall amounts ranged from 5 to 8 inches along the path of the storm. At Cape Hatteras, a total of 5.30 inches fell, 7.04 inches at Bridgehampton, Long Island, 7.00 inches in Groton, Connecticut, and 7.83 inches at Portland, Maine. A total of 5.59 inches of that fell in only 6 hours.

    Strong winds battered the area. In Portland, the sustained wind was 40 mph with gusts to 61 mph. At Blue Hill, peak wind was 93 mph, it was 92 mph at Wiscasset, 69 mph a Mt. Desert Island, and 69 mph at Matinicus Rock.

    An estimated 2.1 million businesses and homes lost power at some point during the storm. From personal experience, the Town of Poland had power out on the primary lines for 4 days, with some parts of town out for over a week. This caused many people to scramble to find ways of keeping their frozen foods cold.

    In Maine, the damage was a bit lighter, but widespread power outages prevailed. Many trees and wires were knocked down. Most of the damage occurred along the coastal areas, but power outages spread as far as western Maine.

    In York County, 8600 people were evacuated from the coast and placed into emergency shelters. The Governor ordered evacuations of residents within ¼ mile of the shore as Coastal flooding took its toll on the area. Two Million dollars in damage occurred in York and Cumberland Counties. In Gorham, 5 bridges were washed out by rising waters of local rivers and streams.

    In Topsham, a power surge caused by the hurricane caused the former Mikes Ice Cream store to catch fire. The building was destroyed by the fire. All across the area, corn fields were flattened and the apple crop was damaged. Debris clearance took up to a week in most areas.

    In Androscoggin County, a total of 6.3 inches of rain fell in Lewiston. Flooding damaged many areas including roads in Lisbon and Durham. The Androscoggin River also rose by 4 feet to 8' 4" from 4' 6". Flooding destroyed small bridges, and washed out several roads throughout the county.

    High winds in Androscoggin County caused extensive damage as the storm peaked around 7:30 PM. In Durham, winds of 68 mph were reported. In Poland, the highway, fire, and sheriffs departments were kept busy into the night. Several calls for branches on wires and trees downed on roads came into the dispatch center. In Minot, the highway department had to clear in excess of 30 trees from the roads. Lisbon and Mechanic Falls had the worst damage totaling $332,000 of personal property damage and $44,000 of public damage. Total damage in Androscoggin County was estimated at $1 Million Dollars.

    Damages from Bob were estimated at $1.5 Billion Dollars, making Bob the 15th most costliest hurricane in U.S. History. Total damages in Maine stood at $212 Million. A total of 18 people died in the storm. Six in Connecticut, 3 in both New York and Maine, 2 in both Nova Scotia and New Hampshire, and 1 in both North and South Carolina.

    Three people in Maine died due to the storm. In Cumberland, a 60 year old man was swept away by flood waters while evacuating his disabled truck. Another 34 year old man from South Portland was electrocuted while plugging in a water pump in a flooded basement. Out to sea, another man was found dead on a life raft. Two people were injured when their car went into a brook in Durham. Though there were a lot of close calls, no other injuries were reported.


    Copyright 2002, Wayne Cotterly

    Revised: 10/21/2002