The Perfect Storm; Halloween 1991

Mention “The Perfect Storm” to most folks and they’ll think of the George Clooney film about a group of fisherman lost at sea aboard the “Andrea Gail” during the Halloween Storm of 1991.   I know the storm as the one that claimed my first car, a 1982 Monte Carlo.

Returning to Ocean City, New Jersey recently brought back memories of the storm and that caused me to dig up some old pictures from October of 1991.  I follow them with the same area  today.

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17th Street & Boardwalk looking South. Ocean City, NJ October 31, 1991

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17th & Boardwalk, Ocean City, NJ August, 2009

The enormous Nor’easter which was actually a combination of different systems was far out to sea but it was so powerful that it pushed tides to a high not seen in some parts of Jersey since the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944.  Before it was over it would claim about a half mile of Ocean City’s boardwalk while flooding out much of the barrier island.   

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17th & Boardwalk Ocean City, NJ looking north 1991

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17th & Boardwalk Ocean City, August 2009.

The storm started to affect Ocean City on October 30, 1991 when under beautiful sunshine the massive system churned up the surf and prevented the high tides from adequately subsiding at low tide.  As a result each successive high tide got higher and the island began to flood. 

My parents who were staying with me at the time headed home that afternoon to Philadelphia just as the floodwater started to rise.  I was anchoring the 11 p.m. news that night and decided not to go home to Ocean City that night but to head up to Philadelphia as well.  

Satellite view of the Halloween Storm, 1991

Satellite view of the Halloween Storm, 1991

At midnight though I suffered a blowout on the exit ramp from the Garden State Parkway to the A.C. Expressway.  There are no lights on the ramp and in the pitch dark I hastilly changed the tire. 

My first car, a victim of the '91 Storm

My first car, a victim of the '91 Storm

Because it was so dark I couldn’t tell though if I did it right.  To play it safe I returned to the flooded Ocean City and made the mistake of coming in the 9th Street Causeway.  The flooding was much deeper than I anticipated.  I jumped a curb and made it through but the damage was done.  Salt water is extremely corrosive, the rusting process starts as soon as the water hits air,  within a month my beloved Monte was dead.

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The so-called Halloween Storm was the first of three “100-Year Storms” that we would see in Ocean City over the next 18-months. 

The newly rebuilt Ocean City boardwalk getting it's first test in December, 1992 storm.

The newly rebuilt Ocean City boardwalk getting it's first test in December, 1992 storm.

The boardwalk was rebuilt but as you can see by the pictures above it was moved out a few feet from the bulkhead so until the beach was rebuilt the waves hitting the bulkhead at high tide could go straight up and not hit the boards.

Through beach replenishment the once 15-foot drop from the boardwalk to the sand below was eliminated, dunes eventually took shape and what was once the place to go to watch a storm in Ocean City became a distant memory.

17th Street looking North

Same view 19 years later

Here’s a story I did in September of 1992 when Tropical Storm Danielle threatened the coast.

17th Street & Boardwalk December, 1992

17th Street & Boardwalk December, 1992

52nd & West Ocean City, NJ  December 1992 Flooding
52nd & West Ocean City, NJ December 1992

These are all images from the December 1992 storm, the third of the 100-year storms we saw in 14-months.

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5 Responses to “The Perfect Storm; Halloween 1991”

  1. Lindsey Says:

    This is one of the most tragic and coolest things i ever saw.

  2. Janell Holtz Says:

    Our condo is at 17th and boardwalk. This blog/pictures are awesome. We bought in 1996 so we appreciate this historical perspective.

  3. Deborah L Sims Says:

    I LIVED on 17th and Asbury and the funny thing is, on one of your first pictures it looks like me and my little brother in a group of people looking! I can not believe I found this, from the same perspective and from the same year, GOD I LOVE THE INTERNET! LOL Your photos are great, I remember watching those waves hit the bulkheads like it was yesterday, and they went higher than that!

  4. Jon Sinclair Says:

    ah, the memories. I believe Lisa Mischler and I covered the damage down in Cape May. Never forget the waves crashing and blowing up the boards. Wild…. good work John K.

  5. Joe Bisicchia Says:

    Wow, feels like yesterday watching you drive in Monte. That car and you were perfect together. Somethings don’t last, but memories do. Thanks for bringing them back. All best to you bud!

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