Remembering Hurricane Carol:
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Did you witness Hurricane Carol in 1954? Tell me about it! And if you have a picture you're willing to share, that's all the better. I'd love to hear from you and I'll add what you have to say to our "Your View" pages. What's more, Charles Orloff is doing a commemorative book on Carol for Blue Hill Observatory and would love to hear from you as well. So if you have something to share, please:

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Somerset, MA

I lived in Somerset, Massachusetts in 1954 and had experienced the Hurricane of 1938 as an eight year old, and the subsequent Hurricane of 1944. Both of these storms had caused significant damage to that area, one of the results of which was the culling of many of the older large trees (elms, maples). Both of these storms had resulted in long term power and telephone blackouts - weeks, each, as I remember. For this reason, and the fact that private weather forecasting as we know it today was just beginning to be available, Carol was of more than usual interest to me.

I haven't checked my facts, but my memory says that Carol (before it was Carol) first came to my attention in its somewhat formative stages as it meandered for several days off the coast of Florida at the approximate latitude of Jacksonville. Information as to its formative parameters and location was available on a regular basis from such sources as Don Kent broadcasting on both WBZ radio and TV in Boston, and from the old Traveler's Weather Service on WTIC in Hartford. At that time the Boston Office of the United States Weather Bureau also produced five minute radio forecasts (at least once a day on WHDH radio in Boston).

The night before Carol entered New England I, and friends, had attended the greyhound races at the old Taunton Dog Track which I believe was technically located in Dighton, Massachusetts. I vaguely remember that the weather that night was essentially benign - a very light drizzle and very little wind.

The next morning, a quick check of the forecasts that were available indicated that Carol had strengthened. My memory does not tell me whether the available information had included the fact that it was now a hurricane. What I do remember, however, is that Don Kent, on what I believe was his 7:25 AM forecast, was explicit in saying that the approaching storm was probably going to be (much?) more severe than the official forecasts indicated. His stated reason was that the wind had shifted at either Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard (or both). In retrospect, I suppose its direction must have veered to southeast, while if Carol were going out to sea it would have been expected to back to northeast . At the same time, we had an old fashioned glass, water filled decorative piece that was intended to serve as a "poor man's" barometer. For the first time since the instrument had been put into use, its contents were spilling out onto the floor (indicative of very low atmospheric pressure). It wasn't long after this that the damaging winds became prevalent and tropical rains began to fall.

Somerset was the location of a steam-generated electrical power plant (Montaup Electric, at the time). In times of significant stress on the regional electrical distribution system, its load of steam had to be "dumped." When this occurred, homes within range were subjected to what could be an overwhelming decibel level. Montaup deliberately went off-line sometime in mid-morning.

Our house was at one end of two intersecting dead-end streets. When the power went off that morning, we were without for quite a few weeks; I don't remember exactly how many. One thing I do remember is that for whatever reasons, we had street lights in the neighborhood well before we had power to the house. Also, telephone service was resumed relatively early. Lastly, two of my aunts lived next door and as a result of the Hurricane of 1938 and its resulting power outage, they had acquired a coal-gas powered refrigerator. This appliance served its intended purpose of functioning in the absence of electricity many times over the years. Our house was heated by gas, so even though fall was well underway before electricity returned, we were warm.

My father was a carpenter and well-known about town. Although I don't remember how people got in touch, temporary roof repairs became a big item. I had undergone major surgery earlier in the summer and was unable to do much more than hoist tar paper and laths to him while he accomplished more of what he had done in the two earlier storms. Also, (note to the Webmaster) I was scheduled to return as a student to one of the precursors to UMassD - Durfee Tech - in the middle of September.

Carol caused significant wind and rainwater damage. Also, tidal flooding damage was extensive. However, as bad as things were, as alluded to earlier, the fact that two previous hurricane had struck the Somerset-Fall River area of Massachusetts in the previous fifteen years was "beneficial." So much damage had been done earlier, there wasn't much left to do.