75th Anniversary of The Great New England Hurricane of 1938


Seventy-five years ago today, The Great New England Hurricane of 1938 struck, killing 564 people and injuring another 1,700.

One of the most destructive and powerful hurricanes in recorded history made landfall at Bellport, Long Island on September 21st, 1938, hitting at high tide, and traveling at speeds of 47 mph across the Island and through New England, tracking across the Atlantic and up the Eastern Seaboard.

It was a Category 3 with sustained winds of 121 mph and wind gusts up to 186 mph, the strongest winds ever recorded in Southern New England.

On Long Island, it formed ten new inlets. Only one inlet was kept – Shinnecock Inlet.  Montauk became an Island temporarily. Storm surges of up to 17 feet put Southampton and other towns under water.

In New York City, water rose 7 feet in 30 minutes.

In Connecticut, hundreds of lives were lost and the highest tides they ever recorded still stand.

Providence was submerged under 20 feet of water; Falmouth and New Bedford residents saw 8 feet of water inundate their towns.

People describing it said the sky turned suddenly very dark quickly in early afternoon as if night had suddenly fallen.

Jon Stanat, a trustee of the Westhampton Beach Historical Society, who lived through the ’38 Hurricane, said that the Express – as the storm was called – ‘makes Sandy look like a light breeze.’


video of 1938 hurricane

More on the 1938 Hurricane at weather.com