Hurricane Gloria, 1985


Robust and long-lasting 1985 North Atlantic storm; fearsome enough in its north-tracking approach that the New York Stock Exchange was shut down for a day, along with all eastern seaboard schools and three Connecticut nuclear power plants. Gloria was the first hurricane to come ashore in New England since 1960, and the source of powerful triple-overhead waves in New Jersey, as well as a seven-day run of prime early autumn surf in the southern states.

Gloria began as a tropical disturbance just south of the Cape Verde Islands on September 16. Five days later it reached hurricane strength (sustained wind speed of at least 74 miles per hour), and on the 25th it peaked as a Class 4 hurricane (sustained winds of 143 miles per hour), putting the entire East Coast on hurricane alert for the first time in history. Gloria headed directly for the Carolinas, turned north and tracked closely along the coast, hit Long Island midafternoon on the 27th, then fell back to tropical storm status on the 28th as it passed over southeast Canada—one of the longest tracks ever plotted by the National Hurricane Center.

While high winds left 250,000 New Englanders without power, and $1 billion in damages were reported between North Carolina and Maine, Gloria caused few injuries and no deaths. Excellent four to eight foot surf rolled into Florida, Georgia, and parts of South Carolina during almost the entirety of Gloria's life span. In the northern states, the winds switched to offshore after Gloria moved inland, and for a few hours the surf at places like Manasquan Inlet, New Jersey, was big—up to 12 foot— powerful, and well-shaped.