Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Chesapeake/Potomac Hurricane of 1933

Yesterday, Jim blogged about the sediment at Port Tobacco. It is dificult to convey the importance of "layers of dirt" at this site. In essence, some parts of the town appear to have been buried by feet of silt, and others by feet of gravel, while some areas have very little of either. To complicate matters, the soils encountered in shovel test pits behind the Burch House bear little resemblance to those in front of it. Major storms are a probable source of these silt and gravel deposits. Heavy winds, rains, and floods can move a large amount of soil, especially in areas where natural vegetation has been lost to farming and livestock grazing.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration maintains an on-line databse of major storms; however their records do not begin until the late 1800s. A search of the historical hurricane tracks show that one major hurricane passed right over Port Tobacco, the Chesapeake/Potomac Hurricane of 1933. By reviewing accounts of this storm's impact on the town we hope to get a better sense of the impact of earlier storms.

There are several accounts of this hurricane available on-line, many of which compare it to Hurricane Isabel of 2003. One account compared the effects of the two storms on one property in Maryland. One difference was that the 1933 storm deposited 3.5 feet of sediment!


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