Gloria was the 7th storm of the season, and was by far the strongest in the Atlantic. This was the first major storm to hit New England since Donna in 1960.
The storm began as a tropical depression far in the Eastern Atlantic, just south of the Cape Verde Islands. The storm formed on September 16th, and began moving to the west-northwest. Over the next several days, the storm would become better organized and would gain in strength. By September 21st, the storm reached hurricane strength and was located several hundred miles to the east of the Leeward Islands. As the storm approached these islands, it suddenly made a sharp turn to the northwest, and passed to the north of all islands in the Caribbean.
The storm continued to gain in strength until it reached its peak on September 25th as a Category 4 storm. Sustained winds were now at 143 mph with higher gusts and the storm was now located several hundred miles to the east of Florida. As the storm approached the east coast, it began to curve northward, passing over the Outer Banks of North Carolina on September 27th. By this point, Gloria had decreased in strength to a Category 2 storm, but still had some punch left as total storm damages were $1 Billion Dollars.
The storm tracked right along the east coast, but still over the water which allowed it to maintain its strength. Typical of hurricanes along the east coast, Gloria began to accelerate as it passed North Carolina. The storm made landfall on Long Island, New York around 2 PM on the 27th. As the storm continued north, it passed through central Massachusetts, central New Hampshire, and western Maine and accelerated to 40 mph. As the storm was now over land, its intensity diminished rapidly. The storm eventually moved off into Canada and then out to sea, but not before leaving the area with heavy rain and wind damage.
Wind and Rain were the story here in Maine as winds in Portland reached sustained winds of 39 mph with gusts to 70 mph and Augusta reported gusts to 73 mph. At Goat Island, 86 mph was the peak gust reported.
A total of 1.3 inches of rain fell in Lewiston, 2 inches fell in Rumford, but only .41 inches fell in Portland. There was only a 2 foot storm surge associated with this storm in Maine as the storm hit at low tide
The high winds knocked out power for several days and left 250,000 people in the dark, some for up to two weeks. Androscoggin County had the worst of the power outages. Central Maine Power reported that it was the worst damage since Carol and Edna in 1954. By the second day after the storm, 30,000 people were still without power. Most were in the towns of Poland, Minot, and Mechanic Falls.
In Ogunquit, a 95 unit motor inn lost its roof and in Augusta, two people were temporarily trapped in their mobile home when a tree split it in two. Windows at the State House were blown out as well. In North Turner, another mobile home lost its roof, but no injuries were reported.
Hundreds of trees in the Auburn and Lewiston area were either uprooted or had their limbs torn off. In New Gloucester, a woman was seriously injured when part of the roof of her mobile home blew off and pinned her to a car in her driveway. A Windsor man was also seriously injured when a tree limb fell onto him. Also, in Auburn, the high winds also took off the roof of a home on Manley Street. Several other tree limbs on that street fell and crushed several cars.
Twenty people spent the night at an emergency shelter set up at
the Lewiston Multi-purpose center, and a few stayed at the Auburn
Armory. The storm kept most people indoors, as crime was kept to a
minimum. As one police officer stated, "even criminals stayed at
home". Lewiston and Auburn Restaurants and food businesses did a
booming business throughout the period. With the power out for an
extended period of time, several area businesses helped keep their
neighbors frozen foods cold by offering them space in their freezers.
Neighbor helping neighbor is something that rarely happens, but
during times like these, people put aside their differences for the
Copyright 2002, Wayne Cotterly