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The Nova Scotia Hurricane of 1873, also known as the Great Nova Scotia Cyclone, was a hurricane that caused heavy damage and killed 500 people in Nova Scotia and 100 in Newfoundland in August of the 1873 Atlantic hurricane season. The hurricane actually remained offshore of Nova Scotia and made landfall in Newfoundland.

Meteorological history

On August 13, the second tropical storm of the 1873 hurricane season formed from a tropical wave in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. The storm's westerly path across the tropical Atlantic was typical of a Cape Verde-type hurricane. On August 17, the storm reached hurricane strength and turned more to the north, likely in response to a break in the subtropical ridge. It passed to the north of the Lesser Antilles and continued on a northwest track while steadily strengthening.

The hurricane reached Category 2 strength (on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale) southwest of Bermuda on August 21. It passed safely west of the island on August 22. The hurricane reached Category 3 strength with maximum winds of 115 mph on August 23 (the intensity is estimated because no satellite images, reconnaissance aircraft, or reliable reports from ships in the open ocean were available).

The hurricane turned to the northeast, retaining its intensity over the warm Gulf Stream waters. While the hurricane was recurving (traveling to the north and northeast), a hurricane warning was issued for Cape May, New Jersey to New London, Connecticut. This was the first hurricane warning ever issued.Template:Fact However, hurricane-force winds were not experienced in the warning area. Conditions then deteriorated and the hurricane weakened to Category 2 strength on August 24 while south of Nova Scotia. It paralleled the Nova Scotian coastline offshore, bringing heavy winds and rain to the province. The hurricane continued to lose intensity, weakening to Category 1 on August 25 while south of Newfoundland. It slowed, drifted northward and struck the island on August 26. While slowly crossing the island on August 27, the hurricane became extratropical, lasting one more day before losing its identity south of Greenland.


Despite its relatively low maximum winds, the Nova Scotia Cyclone was a deadly storm. It destroyed 1200 boats and 900 buildings in Nova Scotia, and killed 500 people, mostly sailors who were lost at sea. The hurricane caused $3.5 million in damage (1873 US dollars, or $53.9 million in 2005 dollars).

Newfoundland also experienced the effects of the hurricane, with an additional 100 people killed from the storm's winds and flooding.

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