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1991 Halloween Nor'easter
Category 1 hurricane (SSHS)

Unnamed Hurricane on November 1 at peak intensity
Formed October 28, 1991 (1991-10-28)
Dissipated November 4, 1991 (1991-11-05)
75 mph (120 km/h) (1-minute sustained)
Lowest pressure 972 mbar (hPa; 28.7 inHg)
Fatalities 12 direct
Damage $208 million (1991 USD)
$333 million (2009 USD)
East Coast of the United States, Atlantic Canada
Part of the
1991 Atlantic hurricane season

The 1991 Perfect Storm, also known as the No-Name Storm, was an unusual nor’easter which was extratropical, absorbed one hurricane, and ultimately evolved into a small hurricane within an extratropical system late in its life cycle. The initial area of low pressure formed across Indiana before moving offshore of Atlantic Canada, where the cyclone reached its peak intensity. The unnamed hurricane of 1991 was the last tropical cyclone of the 1991 Atlantic hurricane season, and its fourth hurricane. By November 2, Atlantic Canada experienced the effects of a landfalling tropical storm. Damage totaled $208 million (1991 USD)[1] and the death toll climbed to 12 people. Most of the damage occurred while the storm was extratropical. The hurricane was the second costliest storm of the season, behind only Hurricane Bob.


Meteorological history

Path of Hurricane 8

A low pressure system that initially formed in Indiana moved east-northeast into Atlantic Canada. By October 28, the system had become a deepening extratropical cyclone east of Nova Scotia. The system moved east-southeast and then curved to the west due to a blocking ridge in the far northern Atlantic. Hurricane Grace was swept aloft by its cold front into the warm conveyor belt circulation of the deep cyclone on October 29.

Beginnings of the oceanic storm

The Halloween Nor'easter reached peak intensity at approximately 12:00 UTC 30 October 1991 with the lowest pressure being 972 millibars. This extratropical cyclone, with its associated high winds from the pressure gradient between the high to its northeast and its low pressure center, created large waves. Canadian buoy 44137 located at 42°16′N 62°00′W / 42.26°N 62.0°W / 42.26; -62.0 reported a wave height of 100.7 feet (30.7 m) at 03:20 UTC on October 30.[2] NOAA buoy 44011 located at 41°06′N 66°36′W / 41.1°N 66.6°W / 41.1; -66.6 reported maximum sustained winds of 49 knots (91 km/h) with gusts to 65 kt (120 km/h) and a significant wave height (average height of the highest waves) of 39 feet (12 m) near 15:00 UTC. Buoy 44008 located at 40°30′N 69°30′W / 40.5°N 69.5°W / 40.5; -69.5 reported maximum sustained winds of 53 kt with gusts to 63 kt (117 km/h) and a significant wave height of 31 ft (9 m) near 00:00 UTC on October 31.[3]

The cyclone becoming subtropical
The tropical storm making landfall west of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

The core of the storm, which moved southward, ended up over warmer Gulf Stream waters and began to develop the convection (thunderstorms, rain, etc.) of a tropical storm early on November 1. It later strengthened into a true hurricane, with minimum pressure of 980 mbar and sustained winds of 75 mph (120 km/h), making it a category 1 hurricane. Because the northeast of the United States had already received a pounding from the main storm, and the hurricane was forecast to remain offshore, it did not receive a name and is known as the Unnamed Hurricane of 1991. The hurricane continued to the northeast and dissipated on November 2 after making landfall between Peggy's Cove and Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada as a tropical storm with 50 (statute) mph (80 km/h) winds. On November 3, the storm's remains along with a gulf low that had a stationary front extending from the Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico caused record snowfall for the east coast, as well as in the Atlantic Canada. It caused record low temperatures before it left on November 4, which allowed the stationary front of the gulf low to start moving again.


The Halloween Storm of 1991 was costly; damage was estimated at $208 million (1991 USD), mostly in Massachusetts and New Jersey.[1] It caused 12 confirmed deaths; including 6 onboard the Andrea Gail and one Air National Guard pararescue jumper, TSgt Arden "Rick" Smith. It lashed northeastern U.S. with a storm tide of more than 13 ft (4 m) above a storm surge of approximately 5 ft (1.5 m), and piled on top of that 30 ft (10 m) waves. The worst of the storm stayed offshore. Duxbury Beach, Massachusetts had gusts up to 85 mph.


The U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NWS Natural Disaster Survey Report called the storm "The Halloween Nor’easter of 1991". The "perfect storm" moniker was coined by author and journalist Sebastian Junger after a conversation with NWS Boston Deputy Meteorologist Robert Case in which Case described the convergence of weather conditions as being "perfect" for the formation of such a storm.[4][5] In New England it is still colloquially referred to as simply "the Halloween Storm" or "the No Name Storm," no name because it was never given a hurricane name. Had it been given a name, it would have been called "Hurricane Henri."


[a] strong disturbance associated with a cold front moved along the U.S.-Canadian border on October 27 and passed through New England pretty much without incident. At the same time, a large high-pressure system was forecast to build over southeast Canada. When a low pressure system along the front moved into the Maritimes southeast of Nova Scotia, it began to intensify due to the cold dry air introduced from the north. [...] These circumstances alone, could have created a strong storm, but then, like throwing gasoline on a fire, a dying Hurricane Grace delivered immeasurable tropical energy to create the perfect storm.

Robert Case, NWS Boston[6]

Notes and references

See also

External links

Tropical cyclones of the 1991 Atlantic hurricane season
Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale
TD TS 1 2 3 4 5


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