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Daryl Ritchison, WDAY, Published July 30 2013

Weather Talk: 1788 mid-Atlantic storm ‘blew a perfect hurricane’

On July 23-24, 1788, a hurricane moved through the mid-Atlantic states. That storm is often referenced as the George Washington Hurricane as it was mentioned in his diary.

As the storm approached Virginia from the east, the wind began to pick up considerably from the northeast on July 23. Then, in the very early hours of July 24, the wind quickly and suddenly shifted to the south and “blew a perfect hurricane, tearing down chimneys and fences.”

The shifting wind from the northeast to the south indicates that the eye of the hurricane passed right over Mount Vernon. The storm caused extensive flooding with many drowning victims reported. Also, extensive crop damage was reported with several ships driven on shore. Washington wrote in his diary that a small ship, the Federalist, sank during the storm. From the descriptions of others who also wrote of this storm in their diaries, Mount Vernon fared better than others. James Madison, father of the future president, said the damage was “beyond description” in Alexandria, Va.

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