30th Anniversary of Hurricane Gloria

Hurricane Gloris, Sept. 24, 1985 (NOAA)
Hurricane Gloris, Sept. 24, 1985 near peak intensity (NOAA)

On September 27, 1985, Hurricane Gloria swept over the Outer Banks then rushed across Long Island, New England, and Canada.  It was the first significant hurricane to hit New England in twenty-five years and brought heavy rains and high winds to the Mid-Atlantic states as well.

Gloria began as a tropical depression over the Cape Verde Islands on Sept. 17th.  Although it soon reached tropical storm status and was named, it encountered unfavorable conditions and remained a marginal system for the next four days.  It wasn’t until the evening of the 21st, as it approached the Leeward Islands, that Gloria reached hurricane strength.  The next day, the hurricane took a northwesterly turn and passed north of the Virgin Islands.  As it did so, NOAA43 began a Synoptic Flow experiment out of San Juan, PR, where the aircraft dropped sondes around the storm in an effort to improve the track forecast.  Throughout the 23rd, Gloria kept on a steady course and steadily but slowly increase in strength.  On the afternoon of the 24th, both NOAA42 and NOAA43 flew Synoptic Flow missions around the hurricane as it began to quickly deepen into a major hurricane.  That night, Gloria reached its peak intensity, with maximum sustained winds estimated at 145 mph (230 km/hr).

Gloria was now due east of Miami, and NOAA42 flew a mission into it measuring its cloud particles.  Beginning early on Sept. 26th, as Gloria weakened and turned northward, the two NOAA aircraft began a series of Long Term Monitoring missions.  This is where one plane would monitor the storm for several hours, then be replaced by the other aircraft which would continue to fly into the storm, while the first plane refueled.  This continued on until midday of the 27th, as Gloria restrengthened just before hitting the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Rainfall from Hurricane Gloria (NOAA/WPC)
Rainfall from Hurricane Gloria (NOAA/WPC)

By now, Gloria was coming under the influence of a low pressure trough approaching the east coast of the United States and its forward speed increased to 40 mph (64 km/hr), making its wind field very asymmetric. By the time of its landfall on Long Island, the maximum sustained winds were measured at 85 mph (140 km/hr) on its east side.  The storm surge reached 7 ft (2.1 m) at Battery Park on the southern tip of Manhattan.  Gloria quickly transitioned into an extratropical storm as it rushed across New England and the Canadian Maritimes, but it still packed a windy punch.  It downed trees and interrupted power for thousands of people throughout the region.  But the biggest impact was from the heavy rains Gloria brought from North Carolina to Maine.  The damage done by Gloria was US$900 million to the US and Canada and 14 deaths.  Confusion over messaging about Gloria led Environment Canada to form the Canadian Hurricane Centre in Nova Scotia in 1986.

Some research papers written by HRD scientist using Hurricane Gloria data:

Aberson, S. D., M. L. Black, R. A. Black, J. J. Cione, C. W. Landsea, F. D. Marks Jr., and R. W. Burpee, 2006: Thirty years of tropical cyclone research with the NOAA P-3 aircraft.   Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 87, 1039–1055.

Eastin, M. D., P. G. Black, and W. M. Gray, 2002: Flight-Level Thermodynamic Instrument Wetting Errors in Hurricanes. Part I: Observations. Mon. Wea. Rev., 130, 825–841.

Kaplan, J., and M. DeMaria, 2001: On the Decay of Tropical Cyclone Winds after Landfall in the New England Area. J. Appl. Meteor., 40, 280–286.

Shapiro, L. J., and J. L. Franklin, 1999:  Potential vorticity asymmetries and tropical cyclone motion. Mon. Wea. Rev., 127, 124-131.

Montgomery, M. T., and J. L. Franklin, 1998:  An assessment of the balance approximation in hurricanes. J. Atmos. Soc, 55, 2193-2200.

Shapiro, L. J., 1996:  The motion of Hurricane Gloria:  A potential vorticity diagnosis.  Mon. Wea. Rev., 124, 2497-2508.

Burpee, R. W., S. D. Aberson, J. L. Franklin, S. J. Lord, and R. E. Tuleya, 1996: The Impact of Omega Dropwindsondes on Operational Hurricane Track Forecast Models. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 77, 925–933.

Franklin, J. L., S. E. Feuer, J. Kaplan, and S. D. Aberson, 1996: Tropical Cyclone Motion and Surrounding Flow Relationships: Searching for Beta Gyres in Omega Dropwindsonde Datasets. Mon. Wea. Rev., 124, 64–84.

Samsury, C. E., and E. J. Zipser, 1995: Secondary Wind Maxima in Hurricanes: Airflow and Relationship to Rainbands. Mon. Wea. Rev., 123, 3502–3517.

Shapiro, L. J. and J. L. Franklin, 1995: Potential Vorticity in Hurricane Gloria. Mon. Wea. Rev., 123, 1465–1475.

Lee, W.-C., F. D. Marks Jr., and R. E. Carbone, 1994: Velocity Track Display—A Technique to Extract Real-Time Tropical Cyclone Circulations Using a Single Airborne Doppler Radar. J. Atmos. Oceanic Technol., 11, 337–356.

Shapiro, L. J., and M. T. Montgomery, 1993: A Three-Dimensional Balance Theory for Rapidly Rotating Vortices. J. Atmos. Sci., 50, 3322–3335.

Franklin, J. L., S. J. Lord, S. E. Feuer, and F. D. Marks Jr., 1993: The Kinematic Structure of Hurricane Gloria (1985) Determined from Nested Analyses of Dropwindsonde and Doppler Radar Data. Mon. Wea. Rev., 121, 2433–2451.

Franklin, J. L., and M. DeMaria, 1992: The Impact of Omega Dropwindsonde Observations on Barotropic Hurricane Track Forecasts. Mon. Wea. Rev., 120, 381–391.

Willoughby, H. E., 1990: Gradient Balance in Tropical Cyclones. J. Atmos. Sci., 47, 265–274.

Willoughby, H. E., 1990: Temporal Changes of the Primary Circulation in Tropical Cyclones. J. Atmos. Sci., 47, 242–264.

Franklin, J. L., S. J. Lord, and F. D. Marks Jr., 1988: Dropwindsonde and Radar Observations of the Eye of Hurricane Gloria (1985). Mon. Wea. Rev., 116, 1237–1244.

One thought on “30th Anniversary of Hurricane Gloria

  1. I live in West Haven, Ct on the south coast. One thing Gloria lacked when it hit us was rainfall. We were in a dry slot of the storm & all we had were a few hundrendths of an inch of rain. My friend Diane & I went to the beach during the eye of the storm so we could experience the backlash of the storm but because the back end of the storm became open ended, we only experienced winds of up to 30 MPH on the back side of Gloria. Earlier in the week, we had experienced Tropical storm Henri which also produced very little rain.


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