20-mile back-up at bridges as tourists flee storm's path
On this day in 1996 Hurricane Edouard moved toward the coast of Massachusetts, cutting short a Labor Day weekend holiday for thousands of visitors who jammed the roads from Cape Cod with a nearly 20-mile traffic backup. Property owners left behind were busily boarding up windows and stocking up on groceries and supplies as the storm, with 90 mph winds, drifted up the East Coast.
Massachusetts Gov. William F. Weld (R) declared a state of emergency, as did several municipalities on Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. Berths on ferries from those popular resort islands were scarce, and some towns declared bans on driving to keep people indoors.
Hurricane Edouard was the strongest hurricane in the 1996 Atlantic hurricane season, reaching winds of 145 mph on its path.
Edouard remained a major hurricane for eight days, an unusually long amount of time. A Cape Verde-type hurricane, the storm formed near the coast of Africa in the middle of August. It moved westward then curved northward, and persisted until early September when it became extratropical to the southeast of New England.
Edouard, originally forecasted to strike the northeast United States, produced hurricane force gusts to portions of southeastern Massachusetts while remaining offshore. The winds caused minor damage totaling to $4.25 million. In addition, the hurricane generated strong waves and rip currents to coastlines, killing two people in New Jersey and causing numerous injuries.