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The Largest One Day Rain Events in New England History

One of New England's biggest vulnerabilities when it comes to extreme weather events is flooding. This region has seen many large flooding and rainfall events throughout its history. Here's a look at each state's highest 24 hour rain total. (Remember, these are not one storm totals as many of New England's worst flooding storms unfolded over multiple days).

The largest one day total for all of New England occurred in Westfield, Massachusetts during the great flood of 1955. Over a foot and a half of rain, 18.15 inches, fell in a 24 hour period between August 18th and 19th of that year. The town was split into three completely separate sections from the flooding.

Westfield, MA during the 1955 flood. (Photo: The US National Archives)

22 people had to be rescued by helicopter and nearly 100 homes and businesses were condemned due to flood damage. The storm dropped a total of 19.75 inches in the town. This is the highest rain total from a single storm in New England history. (Over 20 inches of rain fell in parts of Connecticut during the entire great flood, but the entire great flood was caused by two separate storms).

The next highest one day total belongs to Maine. In a 24 hour period between October 21st and 22nd, 1996, Portland picked up 13.32 inches. This storm has gotten lost among New England's historic flood events, perhaps due to the fact that the flooding was rather contained, with massive amounts limited to southwest Maine and eastern New Hampshire.

A conveyor belt of moisture from hurricane Lili combined with a very slow moving nor'easter. This combination led to an inundation of rain located over the same general area. The highest total for the entire three day storm was 19.19 inches, just behind the 1955 flood for New England's record.

Westbrook, Maine on October 22, 1996. (Photo: John Patriquin)

The next state with the highest total is Connecticut. This occurred on August 19, 1955 during the great flood of 1955. Despite Massachusetts getting the rainfall record, this event hit Connecticut the hardest. A total of 12.77 inches fell in Burlington.

In Burlington, US marines launched a rescue mission by lowering a rope from a helicopter to hoist survivors standing on the roof of the Burlington Inn. The roof was barely above the floodwaters. A total of 77 people were killed in Connecticut along with hundreds of millions of dollars in damage being done. (Again, a link to read an in depth retrospective of this event can be found above).

New England flooding in 1955. (Photo: National Weather Service)

Rhode Island's 24 hour record is just over a foot, 12.13 inches, falling from September 16th to 17th, 1932 in Westerly. There's not much information or fanfare on this storm as pretty much all storms in the 1930s got completely overshadowed by the 1938 New England Hurricane when it comes to history.

New Hampshire comes in next, with a total of 11.07 inches falling at the summit of Mount Washington from October 20th to 21st, 1996. This was the same event described in Maine's section. Eastern New Hampshire saw many of the same effects that southwest Maine saw, with over a foot of rain falling in places over the course of the three day storm.

Vermont is the final state, with the only 24 hour reading below double digits. A total of 9.92 inches fell at the summit of Mount Mansfield on September 17th, 1999. Like Rhode Island, there is not a whole lot of information about this storm out there.



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