Hurricane Bob was the second named storm, first hurricane, and first major hurricane of the 1991 Atlantic hurricane season. Bob developed on August 16 east of the central Bahamas, and quickly intensified into a tropical storm as it moved northwestward. Bob then curved to the north, and eventually attained major hurricane status before weakening to a Category 2 and making landfall in Rhode Island. Bob was the first hurricane to strike the northeastern United States since Hurricane Gloria in 1985. Bob produced a large swath of destruction along the northeastern United States.
Bob caused $1.5 billion (1991 USD) in damage as well as 20 deaths.
|Formation||August 16, 1991|
|Dissipation||August 20, 1991|
|Highest winds||115 mph|
|Lowest pressure||950 mbar|
|Deaths||10 direct, 10 indirect|
|Damages||$1.5 billion (1991 USD)|
|Areas affected||North Carolina, New England, Atlantic Canada|
|Part of the||1991 Atlantic hurricane season|
Bob had its origins from a frontal trough. On August 12, convection increased around the trough southeast of Bermuda. Over the following days, the trough moved southwestward to westward. Surface observations at 1200 and 1800 UTC August 15 indicated that a weak 1015 mb low-pressure area had developed in association with the trough. At this time, the system was located a couple hundred miles east of the Bahamas. During this time, satellite imagery indicated that the system only possessed a broad and diffuse low-level circulation with minimal curvature in the associated convection. The next day, however, the system began to get better organized. At 0000 UTC August 16, based on data from a reconnaissance aircraft, which had indicated that the system developed a closed surface circulation, the system is estimated to have become Tropical Depression Three while located about 175 miles east of Nassau. The depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Bob at around 1800 UTC August 16 while located about 120 miles northeast of Nassau. Bob continued to intensify, while making a turn to the northwest. At 1719 UTC August 17, reconnaissance aircraft found a fight-level wind of 71 knots, along with a minimum central pressure of 987 mb. Based on this, Bob strengthened into a hurricane at 1800 UTC August 17 while located about 205 miles east of Daytona Beach, Florida. At this point, Bob began accelerating north to north-northeast in response to the approach of an upper-level trough that was centered across the southeastern United States. Late on August 18, convection around the center became better organized, and a well-defined eye appeared within the convection. Bob continued to intensify, with the eye becoming even better defined as the hurricane passed within 25 to 30 miles of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina early on August 19. At 0600 UTC that day, Bob is estimated to have reached its peak intensity of 115 mph, with a pressure of 950 mb, making Bob a Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. At this time, Bob was located about 90 miles east-southeast of Norfolk, Virginia.
The hurricane continued moving quickly to the north-northeast and gradually began weakening due to cooler waters, and the cyclone's eye was partially cloud filled as it passed just east of Long Island, New York. Bob's western eyewall passed over Montauk Point on the eastern end of the island. At 1720 UTC August 19, Bob made landfall at Block Island, and then at around 1800 UTC, made landfall near Newport, Rhode Island as a Category 2 hurricane.
Bob making landfall in Rhode Island.
Bob passed over Rhode Island and Massachusetts, with the eye passing between Boston and Scituate. Subsequently, the hurricane passed over Massachusetts Bay. Bob continued to weaken as it accelerated north-northeast, and the cyclone began to lose tropical characteristics as it passed just offshore the southern coast of Maine. At 0130 UTC August 20, Bob made its final landfall near Rockland, Maine. At this point, the hurricane turned more to the northeast and passed over New Brunswick. At 1200 UTC that day, Bob emerged from New Brunswick near Chatham. By 1800 UTC that day, Bob became an extratropical cyclone while located over the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Subsequently, the cyclone crossed northern Newfoundland, then the northern Atlantic Ocean, before moving southeastward and finally dissipating on August 29 near the coast of Portugal.
Evacuation orders were issued from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to New England. Media reports indicate, however, that several thousand residents did not evacuate the lower-lying areas along the Outer Banks.
Bob produced sustained hurricane force winds along the immediate coastal areas of Rhode Island, along with most of southeastern Massachusetts. At Narragansett Bay, Bob produced a storm surge of 11.5 feet. In addition to the hurricane force winds, Bob produced sustained tropical storm force winds elsewhere in the region, with many locations east of the Connecticut River experiencing hurricane force wind gusts. Bob's high winds downed many trees and power lines across the area, causing widespread power outages, with over 60% of the residents in southeastern Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts losing power. In addition to this, the hurricane caused significant damage to apple and peach orchards in the area. Bob produced sustained hurricane force winds across portions of coastal New England, with Cape Cod experiencing wind gusts as high as 125 mph; the city of Wethersfield, Connecticut also received gusts as high as 125 mph from Bob. Sustained winds of 100 mph were reported in North Truro, Massachusetts; this was the highest reported sustained wind in association with Bob. Block Island recorded sustained winds of 90 mph, with gusts as high as 105 mph. Gusts to near 100 mph occurred in Newport, Rhode Island, as well. Bob also produced six tornadoes, with four touching down in North Carolina, and two touching down in Long Island, New York. There were a total of 16 unconfirmed tornadoes in association with the hurricane, which includes 9 on Hatteras Island, North Carolina, two in Rhode Island, and two in Massachusetts.
Bob produced a storm surge in excess of 6 to 10 feet across coastal Rhode Island, which would have inundated Providence with at least four feet of water, had it not been for the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier. At Buzzards Bay, a storm surge of 10 to 15 feet was reported, with the shore of Buzzards Bay eastward to Cape Cod being hardest hit by Bob's storm surge. Storm surges in excess of 12 to 15 feet occurred in the communities of Onset, Bourne, and Wareham in Massachusetts, which are located at the head of Buzzards Bay. Cove Road, in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts had 29 of 37 homes destroyed, while Angelica Point lost 32 of 35 homes along the shore. Bob also significantly damaged boats in the area, with many of them being torn from their moorings. Bob produced extensive beach erosion from Westerly, Rhode Island eastward, with some south facing beaches along Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Island losing up to 50 feet of beach. Bob produced heavy rainfall of 3 to 6 inches across many areas of coastal New England, except for in southeastern Rhode Island eastward to Cape Cod, where less than 1 inch of rain was reported in association with the hurricane. Bob produced rainfall in excess of over 7 inches in western Rhode Island as well as extreme eastern Connecticut. Portland, Maine received the highest rainfall total reported with Hurricane Bob, peaking at 8.24 inches; this rainfall total set a new record for maximum daily rainfall in Portland.
Bob also produced strong winds in Portland, with wind gusts reaching 61 mph. In addition, a storm surge of 2.8 was reported at the Portland Tide Gauge. Bob killed a total of three people in Maine, and total damage is estimated at $212,000,000 (1991 USD). Many areas in the state received long-lasting power outages due to the impacts from powerful Hurricane Bob. In the Sebago Lake area, significant damage was reported. Total damage in New England from Bob is estimated to be at $1.7 billion (1991 USD).
In addition to New England, Bob impacted Atlantic Canada, as well. Bob killed two boys when they were swept out to sea during the storm. In addition, the cyclone's eye passed directly over Campobello Island, New Brunswick.
Rainfall totals for Hurricane Bob.
Because of the damage and deaths, the name Bob was retired in the Spring of 1992 by the World Meteorological Organization, and was replaced with Bill for the 1997 Atlantic hurricane season.