Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1938: The Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1938 hit Providence Sept. 22, 1938. The state declared Martial Law in Providence at the time of the storm. The hurricane brought wind gusts as high as 100-125 miles per hour and storm surges that left downtown Providence flooded under 13 feet of water. One recorded storm tide peaked at 20 feet high. Ultimately, around 600 people in New England died as a result of the storm, with a majority of those deaths taking place in Rhode Island. The storm cost the state around $100 million and the University $50,000 in damage. Historical photos in this slideshow are taken from Herald archives, and modern-day images are credited to Isobel Heck.
Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1938Due to the impact of the Great Atlantic Hurricane, Caesar Augustus lost his arm during the storm. Moses Brown Ives Goddard gave the statue of Caesar Augustus, shown above, to the University in 1906. The statue is a copy of the Augustus of Prima Porta statue found in the Vatican Museum. At the time, the statue was placed outside of Rhode Island Hall, located between the Main Green and Quiet Green.
Modern day picture of Caesar AugustusThough Brown replaced Caesar Augustus’ arm after the Great Atlantic Hurricane, he lost it again when students stole it during his move from outside of Rhode Island Hall to outside of the Sharpe Refectory in 1952. In 2008, unidentified Brown students created a translucent arm for Caesar Augustus positioned in a “rock on” symbol. Today, Caesar Augustus remains outside of the Sharpe Refectory with only one arm, as pictured above. Students frequently ornament him with new accessories.
Hurricane Carol Hurricane Carol hit Providence on Aug. 31, 1954. The Category 3 hurricane caused major devastation to Rhode Island, bringing winds between 80 and 100 mph and causing all of Rhode Island to lose power. Storm surges of up to 14.4 feet caused downtown Providence to flood beneath up to 6 feet of water, similarly to during the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1938. Floods resulting from the two hurricanes in part helped lead to the construction of the 1966 Fox Point Hurricane Barrier standing in Providence today.
Hurricane Carol“Hurricane Carol bore a gentle name but the resemblance ended there,” The Herald reported at the time. The hurricane, which left downtown Providence under water, was not forecasted in fear of frightening the public, The Herald reported. Just days after Hurricane Carol moved through, Hurricane Edna brought more rain and wind to the state. While it did not have as great an impact, the back to back hurricanes left much destruction in ‘Little Rhody.’
1978 Ice StormJanuary of 1978 brought much snow and ice to Providence, only a precursor to the devastating blizzard of 1978 that would hit campus in early February. Pictured above are the results of an ice storm in January.
Blizzard of 1978The Blizzard of 1978 dumped 29 inches of snow on Brown’s campus and brought hurricane force winds with it. Classes were canceled for four days, between Tuesday Feb. 7 and Friday Feb. 10. Additionally, five dorms were evacuated. The above picture shows a birds eye view of Thayer Street after the blizzard hit Providence.
Thayer StreetThayer on a clear spring day.
1978 HeadlineThe Blizzard of 1978 broke the city’s record for amount of snow from one storm and left a significant mess in need of cleaning up. Many students, along with official workers, helped in efforts to clear the snow. Ultimately the storm cost Brown over $13,000. Unfortunately, public efforts to dig out from the snow resulted in $2,000 worth of damage alone and the destruction of a 140 year-old wall on Brown’s campus.
Blizzard of 1978The blizzard of 1978 shut down Providence for days due to the 29 inches of snow the storm brought. Above, a man is pictured skiing down a street on College Hill post-blizzard.
Hurricane GloriaHurricane Gloria, a Category 3 hurricane at landfall, caused a state of emergency in Rhode Island and the cancellation of Brown classes Friday Sept. 27, 1985. The cancellation was due to an order by then-governor of Rhode Island Edward DiPrete. Pictured above, Scott Buchanan ’87 and David Margulius ’86 await Hurricane Gloria.
Hurricane Gloria continuedThough the eye of Hurricane Gloria missed Brown’s campus by 60 miles, the hurricane still brought winds as high as 70-80 miles per hour. Twenty-five trees fell and 13 windows shattered on campus.
Sayles HallAt the time, then-director of security at told The Herald that students climbed to the roofs of Faunce House, Metcalf Auditorium and some dorm buildings to watch the hurricane move in, saying “there’s a lack of common sense in those kinds of judgments.”
Sayles HallSayles Hall today.
Hurricane BobHurricane Bob moved over Rhode Island in late August 1991. The Category 3 Hurricane brought much damage to New England but left Brown’s campus relatively unharmed. The hurricane caused the loss of 20 mature trees and broke several windows on campus. Despite Brown’s luck, the hurricane brought $200 million worth of damage to the rest of the state.
Picture #16The blizzard of 2005 was the first storm since the Nor’Easter of 1978 to cause a state of emergency in Rhode Island. The storm brought nearly two feet of snow to Providence over the weekend of Jan. 21, 2005. Cleanup cost the University over $60,000. Pictured above, students walk to classes on the second day of classes of the 2005 spring semester.
Modern dayThe Main Green today.
Blizzard of 2006The Blizzard of 2006 covered Brown’s campus in snow on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2006. The University suspended operation of the shuttle service SafeRide but chose not to cancel any university events.
The Main GreenThe same scene today.
Winter of 2011The 2011 winter season brought storm after storm to Providence, causing large amounts of snow on Brown’s campus. One storm brought 16-20 inches of snow to the Providence area Dec. 26, 2010. Just a couple weeks later, on Jan. 12, 2011, a second storm brought between 14 and 20 inches of snow, causing the University to shut down operations. Nearly three times the average amount of snow fell in January 2011 in Providence. Pictured above is Bruno on the main green, standing in a 2011 snow mass.
BrunoPictured above is Bruno on a sunny spring day.
Winter Storm NemoNor’easter Nemo brought about a foot and a half of snow to Providence between Friday Feb. 8, 2012 and Saturday Feb. 9, 2012. Nemo was ranked as a Category 3 storm on the Northeastern Snowfall Impact Scale, bringing winds as strong as 52 miles per hour. Due to the storm, classes were canceled Friday Feb. 8. Pictured above is the statue of Caesar Augustus on Wriston Quad, post-Nemo.
Wriston QuadWriston Quad and Caesar Augustus on a fall evening.
Nemo continuedThe foot and a half of snow and cancellation of classes brought by Winter Storm Nemo attracted many students into the snow to build igloos and sled on stolen dining hall trays. Marisa Quinn, vice president for public affairs and University relations, told The Herald that “a number of trays are missing from the dining hall” at the time of the storm. Ultimately, Nemo caused the spring semester’s reading period to be shortened by one day due the cancellation of classes at the time of the storm. Pictured above, students play in the snow left by Nemo on the main green.