The Delmarva Peninsula is made up of most of DELaware, the Eastern Shore of MARland and the Eastern Shore of VirginiA. While somewhat wider than the barrier islands along the East Coast – from New York to Florida – the Delmarva Peninsula is a barrier as well – protecting the mainland of Maryland and Virginia from storms.
Ocean City, MD began as a tiny fishing hamlet. Slowly it grew until a railroad bridge was constructed in 1876 which gave visitors a somewhat easier way to reach the beach. In August 1933 a hurricane created what is now the Ocean City inlet – cutting a channel between Ocean City and Assateague Island and creating a very different Ocean City.
The Eastern Shore News - September 1, 1933:
Also 200 feet of the railroad bridge leading into Ocean City was destroyed. The hurricanes closest point was approximately 50 miles to the south and west with 70 to 75mph winds.
"Many families were driven from their homes. Some escaped in boats, others swam to safety while others floated on wreckage until rescued. Homes were flooded by salt water and the damage to furniture and household goods will run into many thousands of dollars. In many homes, windows and doors were battered down by the pounding waves. High winds did tremendous damage, felling trees, de-roofing buildings, and destroying crops.
Thousands of chickens and many horses, cows, sheep, dogs, and other animals were drowned.”
The inlet brought a new industry to Ocean City – sport fishing. The inlet channel and inland harbor provided fishermen an easy access to the ocean. They no longer had to launch boats through the surf or limit themselves to bay fishing..And in 1934 the first white marlin was caught offshore.
The Delmarva Peninsula has seen its share of hurricanes and tropical storms that have passed by the coast or traveled to the west of the resort areas.
While hurricanes and topical storms are the big news makers, they are short-lived and usually don’t cause too awfully much damage as the area has never taken a direct hit from one (knock wood). The stoms that cause the most damage here are the Nor’Easters we see during the off-season. These storms take several days to run their course and can cause extensive flooding and wind damage, or bring us substantial snow or ice.
Hurricane Barbara - August 1953 - skirted past Delmarva after coming onshore at the Outer Banks
- Hurricane Connie - August 1955 – caused extensive flooding in the Mid-Atlantic. Connie went up the Chesapeake Bay and then inland
- Hurricane Donna - September 1960 - with winds of 83mph before the anemometer was broken! Donna had a very large eye up to 100 miles wide.
- Hurricane Doria – September 1967 - skirted coast of Delmarva and came at the coast from the East and headed south towards VA & NC
- Hurricane Gloria – August 1985 - passed about 60 miles offshore with 100mph winds and causing minor damage
- Halloween Nor'Easter 1991 – (aka the “Perfect Storm”) In Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, the highest water levels were comparable to those of the nor'easter of March, 1962. A record high tide of 7.8 feet occurred at Ocean City on the 30th, which eclipsed the old record of 7.5 feet recorded during the March 1962 storm. Actually called Hurricane 8, it caused nearly $1 billion in damages and killed 12 people, and was closely tied to tropical activity, as it was fueled by the remnants of Hurricane Grace
- Hurricane Fran – September 1996 – was a tropical depression by the time she reached Western Maryland where she caused extensive flooding
- Hurricane Floyd – September 1999 - produced torrential rains and high winds throughout the Mid-Atlantic as far north as New York City and Long Island. In Delaware two people died. The name Floyd has been retired
- Hurricane Charley – August 2004 - skirted coast of Delmarva – name Charley has been retiired
Once a tiny fishing village that spanned only a handful of acreage, Ocean City – and the rest of the Delmarva Peninsula has grown immensely.