Shoreline Processes and Damage Resulting from the Halloween Eve Storm of 1991 along the North and South Shores of Massachusetts Bay, U.S.A.


  • Duncan M. FitzGerald
  • Sytze van Heteren
  • Todd M. Montello


Astronomical tide, meteorological conditions, structured and unstructured barriers, storm surge


A strong northeast storm that lasted several days and culminated on Halloween Eve 1991 caused extensive erosion and structural damage along Massachusetts' North and South Shores. The passage of Hurricane Bob six weeks earlier had resulted in a significant decrease of the beach/barrier buffer zone which had made the coast extra vulnerable to this new storm. Both erosion and structural damage were controlled primarily by the beach and dune morphology, sediment composition, exposure to waves and wind, and the presence or absence of coastal structures. The most widespread and severe damage to dwellings occurred along the South Shore In areas where storm buffer zones are narrow to nonexistent and where houses were subjected to gravel overwash. Areas heavily impacted by the Halloween Eve storm were the same ones that were most severely damaged during the February Blizzard of 1978.