The Virginian-Pilot
                             THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT 
              Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc.

DATE: Sunday, July 30, 1995                  TAG: 9507270227
                                             LENGTH: Short :   42 lines


ILLUSTRATION: Photo courtesy of the Outer Banks History Center

Hurricanes and tropical storms take their toll on the Outer Banks,

but the extratropical cyclones - northeasters - of fall, winter and

spring are more numerous and, in the aggregate, more destructive.

Although northeasters are usually identified by month and year,

three have earned names. The Halloween Storm of 1991 was the

aftermath of Hurricane Grace, which passed far out to sea, not a

true northeaster. The Storm of the Century was legitimate and made

its share of mischief in March 1993, but it hardly deserved the

title bestowed by some excitable copy editor. A worse northeaster,

perhaps the worst in living memory, struck 21 years before. Having

beleagured the coast with gales and the interior with heavy snow

through the first week of March 1962, this system threw its knockout

punch early on the morning of the 7th. The storm surge, amplified by

the predicted spring tides and accompanied by winds gusting

unexpectedly to hurricane speed, made a respectable attempt to erase

decades of development from the barrier chains of the Eastern

Seaboard. On the Outer Banks, the combination of wind and water

transformed buildings into boats and vice versa, reopened forgotten

inlets and buried roads under feet of sand and rubble. Pushing

northward, the storm wiped out the chicken farms of Chincoteague,

Va., ripped away part of the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, N.J., and

ravaged Fire Island, N.Y. As the waters receded, Outer Banks

publicist Aycock Brown snapped this unidentified man negotiating the

cluttered remains of what is now N.C. 12 in Kitty Hawk (Bill

Anderson's store is laid open on the right). Brown, an Episcopal lay

reader, recalled that March 7 was the first day of Lent and gave

this superlative northeaster the name that stuck: the Ash Wednesday


by CNB