The Storm Of 62
Fifty Seven years ago, March 5th, 1962 a nor’easter started on the mid Atlantic east coast and caused severe damage. The storm is considered to be one of the most destructive along the east coast. Nor’easters for us here along the Delaware coast are more destructive than hurricanes. A nor’easter can stick around and just literally grind up the coast line with storm surge tides and heavy winds for days. Hurricanes move through fast and furious in a matter of hours. Superstorm Sandy punched through the dunes in Delaware Seashore State Park and covered route 1 with six feet of sand but other than that the damage was minimal.
The storm of 62 was forecast as a normal winter storm. Tides were predicted at 2 to 5 feet higher than normal with flooding in low lying areas, typical nor’easter conditions. Gale force winds from a storm moving across the country that would head offshore. A typical winter storm forecast much like the ones we have every year. Little did anyone realize that it would run into another storm off the coast and would occur during the spring king tides.
The storm of 62 pummeled the east coast with sixty mph winds and destroyed a lot of property along the east coast for two solid days. It is known as the worst storm in Delaware’s history and remembered today by everyone who was there. The flooding was monumental for the back bay communities, roads turned into emergency boat ramps. Large yachts washed into wooded areas and are still there today. The beaches were hammered, all of the boardwalks were ripped apart. Houses were either toppled over or just washed away completely. Some were buried halfway to the roof in sand.
“We were the first out there on the scene as the road crews for the state of Delaware, and route 1 was just gone, covered in sand all the way down the coast. The older cottage style houses that just sat on the sand were washed into the inland bays. Some were buried and full of sand to the tops of the windows. We found vehicles buried to the roof.” Harry Aiken
Delaware came close to those same conditions with two nor’easters, especially Storm Jonas in 2016. Thankfully these were not quite as strong and did not last as long. Storm Jonas came close to the storm of 62’s conditions, it could have been much worse had it not subsided after the first high tide. A couple of tide cycles and we would have had some serious issues. We got lucky and didn’t have a repeat of the storm of 62, however the question is not if, but when we will have a repeat of those conditions.
We always hear about the fifty year storm cycles and it makes one wonder if we are not in one of those cycles now. This is just one of the reasons you should always be prepared for a nor’easter. Just because you do not think it will be a big deal, conditions can change quickly and in some cases it may be too late to go anywhere. Always be prepared, it is better to be, than not to be.