Major hurricane strikes in the northeastern United States are extraordinarily rare, but 80 years ago last Friday, that is exactly what happened. On September 21, 1938, a category 3 hurricane plowed into Long Island before moving into New England at a speed 47 mph. The incredibly fast forward motion of the storm contributed storm surge of 17 feet above high tide in Rhode Island. Winds gusted as high as 186 mph at the Blue Hill Observatory in Massachusetts and 125 mph in Providence, RI. Tragically, the storm is estimated to have taken over 600 lives.
The forests in New England were devastated, with an estimated 3 billion feet of timber blown down by the storm. Property damage was estimated at roughly $300 million in 1938 dollars, which is about $5 billion today adjusted for inflation.