Groundhog Day 45 Years Ago: Bangor Flooded By Massive Storm Surge
The City of Bangor is no stranger to wild storms on Groundhog Day. This storm in particular flooded much of Downtown Bangor.
As Mainers dig out from strong Nor'easter that brought snow and ice to much of the state, Bangor residents can be thankful this isn't the clean up they're experiencing today. What became known as "The Groundhog Day Gale" swept a huge storm surge up the Penobscot River in 1976. The day featured mild temps, heavy rain, and winds that topped 80 MPH.
Around 11 in the morning, the water levels on the river began rising quickly. Because of the funneling effects from the river, the surge grew fast. After about 15 minutes the water had risen 12 feet, or about 10 inches per-minute.
According to a detailed account of the storm by Hybridstorm's Weather Blog, quite a few meteorological events perfectly aligned to create such a punishing weather event.
First, the sun, moon, and earth were generally in alignment, causing a very high astronomical tide. Second, the extremely intense low pressure center that tracked west of the Penobscot River caused the very strong southerly winds to develop over the Penobscot Bay. Third, the wind driven storm surge occurred near the time of high tide. And fourth, the funneling effects of the Penobscot Bay and River allowed the surge to move up the river and grow as it headed toward the city of Bangor.
The flash flooding submerged cars, and damaged buildings. No one was injured.