September 3 - 1991: Category Three Hurricane Bob ruins the off-season for Cape Cod

Hurricane Bob reshapes Cape Cod
Bob's aftermath here on Cape Cod. Peter Robbins photo.

1991: The "Shoulder Season" that was reshaped by Hurricane Bob

When travel stories became travel advisories and put an early end to the season

On the week before Labor Day in 1991, potential visitors to Cape Cod were warned about the after effects of Hurricane Bob which hit the area in late August.

The result was a huge drop in visitors during the so-called fall "shoulder season" since the hurricane hit the Cape the week before Labor Day in 1991.

Coastal communities bore the brunt of the storm, with sustained winds between 83 to 107 mph (172 km/h). Peak wind gusts to 125 mph (201 km/h) were recorded on Cape Cod in the towns of Brewster and Truro. The highest sustained wind of 100 mph (160 km/h), was recorded in North Truro.

As Bob became a hurricane, it began to move to the northeast and accelerated. By August 19, the storm was located 30-35 miles (50-55 km) to the east of Cape Hatteras, and was at its peak intensity of 115 mph (185 km/h). As the storm moved quickly northeast, it began to weaken over the colder waters. Hurricane Bob then made landfall twice on Rhode Island: at 1:30 p.m. on Block Island, then at 2 p.m. over Newport. The storm cut a path across southeastern Massachusetts and then into the Gulf of Maine.

Here is the start of a New York Times story that day:

TRAVEL ADVISORY: Hurricane Reshapes Cape Cod

In the aftermath of Hurricane Bob on Cape Cod, visitors who head down the Mid-Cape Highway this fall will be struck by a dramatically altered landscape. An early fall has struck, with shriveled brown leaves beginning to drift from trees and shrubs -- the result of the fierce, salt-drenched winds.

Along Route 6 in Eastham the scale of the forests seems lower. Many of the fast-growing, shallow-rooted locusts planted in groves 60 or 70 years ago have been uprooted while the frail survivors dangle overhead; groves of oak, maple and pine have been "pruned by nature," as the professionals put it. Many Cape Codders are left with unaccustomed sunlight and a decade's worth of firewood.

Read the complete story here. Read about Bob here.


(Bob's path of destruction. Photos by Peter Robbins.)


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