Storm of October 1804

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Storm of October 1804
Unknown strength hurricane ( SSHS)
Formed bef. October 8, 1804
Dissipated aft. October 11, 1804 (extratropical after October 10, estimated)
115+ mph (185 km/h (1-minute sustained)
Lowest pressure ≤978  mbar ( hPa)
Damage $100,000+ (1804  USD)
$1.2 million+ ( 2005 USD)
Fatalities 9 direct
Virginia, Mid-Atlantic States, New England, and southeastern Canada
Part of the
1804 Atlantic hurricane season

The Storm of October 1804 was a late-season major hurricane in the 1804 Atlantic hurricane season that brought vast amounts of snow to New England as an extratropical storm in mid-October. The storm was the last of the only two tropical cyclones recorded that season.

It killed at least 9 people, and caused $100,000+ (1804 USD, $1.2 million 2005  USD) in damage across much of the Northeast Coast of the United States. In addition, several ships were wrecked in Boston's Harbour.

Storm history

Late in the 1804 Atlantic hurricane season, a major hurricane moved northwestward across the Western Atlantic. It passed by Virginia on October 8, and winds reached as far as Norfolk with winds of at least 31 mph (50 km/h). One ship was reported to have passed through the gale, damage to the vessel is unknown. The system hit near Atlantic City, New Jersey, on October 9, and slowly curved east-northeastward, passing just north of New York City. After briefly passing through Connecticut into Massachusetts, cool air was entrained in the circulation, and it became extratropical. It continued east as it passed through Boston into the Gulf of Maine. It was last mentioned two days later, on October 11, probably over Atlantic Canada. An estimated track of the storm can be viewed here.


Death Tolls by State
Area Deaths
Massachusetts 8
New Hampshire 1
Total 9

The tropical cyclone brought blankets of snow to anywhere between New York and Southern Canada when it became extratropical. The storm brought heavy rain across the Atlantic states and southern New England, until it became extratropical and brought snow instead, in some areas up to two to three feet (610-910  mm). This was the first observation of snow from a landfalling hurricane, but not the last; Hurricane Ginny of 1963 brought up to 18 inches (400 mm) of snow to portions of Maine. In addition to the immense amounts of snow, the Storm of October 1804 toppled fruit orchards everywhere. Thousands of fowl perished, and cattle and sheep died by the hundreds because of the frigid temperature. In total, the extratropical storm killed 9 people and caused at least $100,000 (1804 USD, $1.2 million (2005  USD) in damage.

Southern Mid-Atlantic States

A vessel, the Rising Stakes, passed through the "dreadful squall" off of Cape Henry, but managed to escape without major damage. Many ships in Baltimore were beached after the rise and fall of the tide. In Atlantic City, New Jersey, a ship was driven ashore. In Trenton, a ferry capsized due to the high winds in the area. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania stated that one new ship sunk–quite a loss of money.

New York

New York City received the worst recorded amount of snow from the storm; the pressure dropped from 992.5 mbar to 977.6 mbar over night. Rainfall totals reached 2.77 inches (70 mm). Once the system had become extratropical, New York received large amounts of snow across the whole state. In Bemis, New York, in the western section of New York, snow and rain was reported to have fallen. Farther eastward, 18 inches (460 mm) of snow was received in Catskill Mountains.

Southern New England

In New Haven, Connecticut, a total rainfall accumulation of 3.66 inches (93 mm) was reported. After becoming extratropical, Litchfield reported 3 inches (76 mm) of snow, while Goshen, reported one foot (305 mm). Rhode Island experienced stronger winds than ever remembered in Providence.

In Massachusetts, 5-14 inches (127-356 mm) of snow was the average snowfall from the gale. But the Berkshire of Massachusetts reported two to three feet (610-910 mm) of snow. In Salem, 7 inches (178 mm) of rain was reported, more than ever before in a 24-hour period. The Gale of October 1804 was the worst tropical cyclone to affect Salem; it is not known if that record has been lost. The roof of the South Church in Danvers, Massachusetts was lost. And in Peabody, Massachusetts, over 30,000 unfinished bricks were ruined. Many buildings in Boston, Massachusetts were destroyed, and one person died because of fallen roofs. Several ships in Boston's harbour were wrecked, causing loss of life.

Northern New England

Image of the North End, Boston neighborhood. The Old North Church is at center, a Big Dig vent building is near the bottom, and the green Tobin Bridge over the Mystic River is at the top.
Image of the North End, Boston neighbourhood. The Old North Church is at centre, a Big Dig vent building is near the bottom, and the green Tobin Bridge over the Mystic River is at the top.

In Concord, New Hampshire, two feet (610 mm) of snow was recorded. Western New Hampshire along the Connecticut River was blanketed with 18 inches (457 mm) of snow. As for the damage, Portsmouth only lost trees and fences to the storm. But Rye lost a person to the storm. A dead woman was found on the beach, with her child still in her hands. Whether the child was dead or alive at the time is unknown. The Vermont Journal estimated 36 to 48 inches (914-122 mm) in areas around Windsor, Vermont, and the northern area of Vermont, Lunenburg, Vermont, reported only 20 inches (508 mm). Thomaston, Maine had a sixty  acre (24.28  hectares) lot of trees that was completely flattened by the time the storm had exited the area.


  • The Old North Church in Boston lost its steeple. The replacement steeple — fifteen feet (4.6  m) shorter than the original — eventually fell victim to Hurricane Carol in 1954, 150 years later. The third and current steeple is a replica of the first.

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