Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
The new Washington
Post Weather website
Jump to CWG's
Latest Full Forecast
Outside now? Radar, temps
and more: Weather Wall
Follow us on Twitter (@capitalweather) and become a fan on Facebook
Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 08/23/2008

75 Years Since Chesapeake Potomac Hurricane

By Jason Samenow
Rainfall amounts from the 1933 Chesapeake Potomac Hurricane. Courtesy NOAA/Paul Kocin.

[Today] marks the 75th anniversary of the Chesapeake and Potomac Hurricane, one of the Mid-Atlantic region's most destructive natural disasters. It struck the North Carolina Outer Banks, coming ashore with 100 mph winds, before tearing through Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. The storm's broad circulation and high winds, as well as a west-northwesterly track that lasted for days before landfall, wrought widespread property losses from North Carolina to New York.

- Rick Schwartz, site manager of and author of the wonderful historical compendium Hurricanes and the Middle Atlantic States.

Keep reading for more on the 1933 storm. Conditions 75 years later are much more tranquil. See our full forecast for details as well as UnitedCast for tonight's game.

Here are some additional impacts from that storm:

  • An astounding 11 foot storm surge was measured along the Potomac in Washington, D.C., and 12 foot surge in Alexandria, Va. as water from the Chesapeake Bay funneled up the river.
  • In Alexandria, the Washington-Richmond highway was submerged under ten feet of water and the Torpedo Factory and the Ford Motor Company were under six feet of water.
  • Bolling Air Force Base was under five feet of water.
  • A train crossing the Anacostia River was swept off its tracks by the flood waters, killing ten people.
  • Over 6" of rain fell in Washington, D.C. and 50 mph winds were recorded.
  • Baltimore, Md. received over 10 inches of rain.
  • The storm cut the inlet between Ocean City, Md. and Assateague Island.
  • Storm damage exceeded $27 million, including $17 million in Maryland and $10 million in Virginia -- with significant crop losses.
  • 30 fatalities were attributed to the storm.

It was considered the storm of the century by many people. Immense property losses added to the woes of the Great Depression. Many farmers, watermen and merchants lost everything. Some smaller communities never completely recovered.

- Rick Schwartz,

With the exception of Agnes ('72) and Isabel ('03), few storms have impacted the area as severely since the great 1933 storm.

Will 2008 bring a great storm through our area? The odds are low. No disturbances in the tropics now appear threatening, notwithstanding the rain showers we may get from the remnants of Fay in the coming week.

For more in the 1933 storm, see the Wikipedia summary,, and our own Kevin Ambrose's -- all of which served as references for this summary.

By Jason Samenow  | August 23, 2008; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Tropical Weather  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Forecast: Worry-free Weekend Weather
Next: Forecast: Dry and Warm Doldrums


I think 95L is worth following. However unlilely it may be for an Altanic Coast hit, some of the models show slow strengthening and bending towards the WNW.

Modelsl are very divergent on sliding west through Lesser Antilles and PR or gradual northward turn towards Bermuda. Some take it gradual NW. All I am saying is, who knows. it may fizzle out too in dry air.

Posted by: BuffettFan | August 23, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I remember Isabel. It wasnt so much the rain but the wind was furocious. Lots of pine trees feel in Stafford that night. Their roots had already been wet from rain that day which didnt help when the high winds picked up laer that evening.

Posted by: Here comes Hurricane season | August 23, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

If the author wrote that the train was swept off of the Anacostia river bridge he is wrong. What actually happened is that years of erosion had undermined the pilings of the bridge and the weight of the train, passing over a bridge already weakened by increased water flow, caused some of the bridge to collapse and some of the passenger cars ended up in the Anacostia River. The bridge had not been inspected in years.

One of the passengers swam to shore and then walked home and he was counted as dead for several days until he thought of notifying the railroad.

It was the same bridge that was closed for a year about two years ago when a train crew noticed a sag when passing over it. The closing disrupted east coast train travel for about a year.

Posted by: JT | August 23, 2008 5:13 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2012 The Washington Post Company