Monday, August 19, 1991
(above) Standard-Times souvenir book on Hurricane Bob
Major Hurricanes Along SouthCoast Are Rare
- But The Memories Linger
Bob was the earliest known hurricane to impact SE New England. This was the first significant test for the New Bedford-Fairhaven Hurricane Barrier on it's 25th anniversary of completion in 1966. Bob’s name was retired in 1991.
(Top and Bottom ) of Padanaram Bridge - Dartmouth, MA Photos by Bob Bumpus
The most prominent landmark destroyed in greater New Bedford was the 391 foot radio tower on Crow island in the middle of the Acushnet River. The newly constructed $35,000 walkway on the causeway to West Island was destroyed. The boardwalk lasted less than 2 months. Underground utilities were put in place to West Island after Bob toppled most of the utility poles that were exposed to the pounding waves and wind along the causeway - which at high tide is only about 3 ft above sea level on a good day.
The last hurricane event before Bob was Hurricane Gloria that affected the region on Friday Sept 27, 1985. This over-hyped “storm of the century” had tens of millions evacuate and run for cover. The public attitude towards hurricane warnings were never the same after Gloria never anted up to nothing more than mediocre tropical storm at best with a high wind gust in New Bedford of 90 MPH and only 1.27" of rain. In defense of this storm, Gloria did cause some long term power outages with isolated areas of extensive wind damage on land and along the shore.
Hurricane Bob was one the costliest hurricanes in New England history. The second named storm and first hurricane of the 1991 Atlantic hurricane season, Bob developed from an area of low-pressure near The Bahamas on August 16. The depression steadily intensified, and became Tropical Storm Bob late on August 16. Bob curved north-northwestward after becoming a tropical storm, but re-curved to the north-northeast after becoming a hurricane on August 17. Bob brushed the Outer Banks of North Carolina as it moved north-northeastward on August 18 and August 19, and intensified into a major hurricane (Category 3+ Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale) shortly thereafter. After peaking with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph (185 km/h), Bob weakened slightly as it approached the coast of New England.
Hurricane Bob Strikes, (above)This 1991 documentary produced and directed by M.L.Baron who was in Hurricane Bob and saw first hand the destructive power of this Category 2 hurricane on Monday, August 19, 1991. Other footage provided by local citizens who contributed their videos for this production. This video was produced at Fairhaven/Acushnet Cablevision. Special thanks to Bob Cormier.
Bob made landfall twice in Rhode Island as a Category 2 hurricane on August 19, first on Block Island and then in Newport. Bob was the only hurricane to make U.S. landfall during the 1991 season. As it continued inland, Bob rapidly weakened, and deteriorated to a tropical storm as it emerged into the Gulf of Maine. Shortly thereafter, Bob made landfall in Maine as a strong tropical storm early on August 20. Bob entered the Canadian province of New Brunswick a few hours later, and transitioned into an extratropical storm. By August 21, the remnants of Bob crossed Newfoundland and re-emerged into the open Atlantic Ocean. The remnants of Bob traveled a long distance across the northern Atlantic Ocean, and finally dissipated east of Portugal on August 29.
Home video (above)of Hurricane Bob August 19, 1991 Aftermath West Island Fairhaven, MA. Causeway, cottages, boats, destroyed walkway on the causeway that was just built costing the town $35K, Fairhaven Fire Dept, assessing damage. Earls Marina boat storage shed demolished. Aftermath shows the causeway very much intact and passable. Manzone cottage on causeway washed away. Special thanks to Bob Cormier.
Bob left extensive damage throughout New England, totaling to approximately $1.5 billion (1991 USD, $2.42 billion 2011 USD) in damage. In addition, seventeen fatalities were reported in associated with Bob. The damage and fatalities that were reported were a result of high winds and rough seas. Bob is also the most recent hurricane to strike New England, as of 2010; Hurricane Edouard brought hurricane force winds to Nantucket in 1996, but the center itself stayed offshore. Due to extensive damage, the name Bob was retired in the spring of 1992, and was replaced with Bill starting in 1997.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(ABOVE) The Crow Island Tower in September 1990
Peter Jarosik - KA!WBE, a life long water front fixture in New Bedford Harbor was also a live truck operator at ABC-6 News Providence RI. He designed and built the tower of The West Island Weather Station and now resides in Florida.
Jarosik; was one of the last commercial radio providers that utilized the tower after WNBH stopped transmitting from it in the mid-1970's. Because of it's 391 ft height the tower still was a very favorable site for transmitting commercially. Pete recalled fondly, that as a kid he brought over the site engineer of WNBH by boat to the island to service the gear. "An RCA transmitter put out a 1,000 watts during the day and 250 watts at night. The entire tower emitted the signal and was isolated from the ground. A web of ground cables in the salt water equivalent to height of the tower made for a superior ground plane." Jarosik said.
During windy days you look up from the transmitter sheds roof to the top of the tower and see it slightly sway. The steel self-supporting structure was designed to withstand a sustained 89mph wind.
On Monday, August 19, 1991, Fairhaven Police Officer Richard Claflin witnessed the entire tower at crow Island slant over for a few seconds and then it slowly heaved over and collapsed into the Acushnet River about 1:30PM at the height of the hurricane. This would be the third and last time that the tower had collapsed in a hurricane since 1954 and 1944.
The tower was never rebuilt. There was discussion of replacing it, but with the advent of newer communication technology, the estimated one-million dollar price tag was not practical. Today, the island is privately owned by Carl Pimental , a local restauranteur who owns The Smuggler's Den and Billy Woods Wharf of New Bedford. The original radio control room building remains intact as a residence. Crow Island is considered a part of The Town of Fairhaven.
The end of an era. Standard-Times photo by Jack Iddon
I was one of the last radio operators to transmit from the tower before it went down. I was also a live correspondent for WNBH that day. WNBH was the only radio station left on the air during the storm. The station was transmitting from it's County St, New Bedford location. Bernadette Coelho, Keith Thibeault were out in the field as well with Jack Pedersen at the news desk. I was located by the hurricane barrier on the Fairhaven side. Wind gusts against my studio van reached 110mph. The highest gust recorded was 125mph at Block island. The radio station received The Associated Press Award for Outstanding Coverage of a Live News Event that year.
MLBaron (above) multi-prize winner "Thunderstruck" weather trivia contest sponsored by The Weather Channel. Standard-Times photo taken by Jack Iddon, August 9, 1991. 10 days later Hurricane Bob hit SouthCoast MA. MLBaron, SkyWarn spotter along with a radio crew from WNBH received the AP Award for "Outstanding Coverage" in a live major weather event.
Hurricanes Have Never Hit on a
By MLBaron westislandweather.com
WEST ISLAND: It appears that hurricanes in the past 100 years have given SouthCoast Massachusetts a break on weekends. Having two consecutive days ( Saturday and Sunday) in a row without hurricanes is also a curious factor. Night time hurricanes are also rare, with the exception of the 1944 Hurricane which slammed the region just before midnight.
Monday...... August 19, 1991........Hurricane Bob
Monday.....September 12, 1960....Hurricane Donna
Tuesday.......August 31, 1954.....Hurricane Carol
Wednesday...September 21, 1938...1938 Hurricane
Thursday......September 14, 1944....1944 Hurricane
Friday.........September 27, 1985...Hurricane Gloria
*Saturday.......September 11, 1954..........Edna
*Hurricane Edna formed just 10 days after Hurricane Carol and impacted the region on Saturday, September 11, 1954 but the damage was more localized to the Cape Cod area. Edna gave an already battered SouthCoast just a glancing blow.
2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season Predicted to Be a Busy One
Carol, the first named Hurricane to impact the Northeast arrived Tuesday, August 31, 1954. 10 days later another hurricane struck. Edna on September 11., causing more localized damage down Cape Cod. This album (above) under construction. A large cache of never before seen photos is being sorted and identified for this exciting new album! From the MLBaron Historic Archives.