80 Years Ago: Great New England Hurricane of 1938 Ravaged Region

National Weather Service photo:

HYANNIS – It was 80 years ago Friday that New England was struck by one of the most destructive storms in the region’s history.

The Great New England Hurricane of 1938 blasted the coastline and interior areas with winds well over 100 mph, killing at least 700 people.

According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm developed over the Cape Verde Islands on September 9, tracking west and then north for two weeks.

The storm came shore over Long Island and the Connecticut coast, moving with a forward speed of an incredible 47 mph.

Sustained hurricane force winds were felt across central and eastern Long Island and southeastern Connecticut.

The effects were felt as well on Cape Cod and the Islands.

View Newsreel footage of the storm below:

The hurricane produced a destructive storm surge that destroyed buildings dumped up to 7 inches of rain.

A maximum sustained wind of 121 mph was recorded at the Blue Hill Observatory. A maximum wind gust of 186 mph was also recorded there.

The peak storm surge happened in Rhode Island at 17 feet above normal high tide. Peak waves of 50 feet were measured off Glouster.

About 63,000 people were left homless, 8,900 buildings were destroyed and 2 billion trees were lost.

The damage in 1938 dollars was $620 million, equivalent to $41 billion in 2010 dollars.


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