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November-December 2015

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November 26–27, 1898: The Portland Gale

In the introduction of his official report of as Chief of the Weather Bureau of the year 1899 (covering the fiscal year ending June 30, 1899), Willis Moore wrote that the “closing months of 1898 were especially stormy on the Great Lakes and the New England coast.” Among the storms that battered these regions that year, Moore claimed that perhaps “the most severe storm within the memory of the living swept along the Massachusetts coast on November 26–27, entailing a loss of at least 200 lives and many vessels. [Later estimates would put the number of lives lost as high as 450.] This appalling loss of life was largely due to the sailing of one vessel, the Portland, with a passenger list of probably 150 souls.”      

Contributing Editor SEAN POTTER is a Certified Consulting Meteorologist (CCM), Certified Broadcast Meteorologist (CBM), and science writer with an interest in weather history.       

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