PLYMOUTH, N.H. (AP) — It slammed into land and rapidly moved north, destroying buildings, altering coastlines, ripping apart forests and shocking a population that had never experienced a hurricane.
About 700 people died 75 years ago when the storm known variously as the Great New England Hurricane of 1938 or the Long Island Express began plowing up the Northeast coastline at 2:45 p.m. on Sept. 21, 1938.
A weather station in Massachusetts recorded sustained winds of 121 mph and gusts as high as 186 mph — a major storm by modern standards that dwarfs the land wind speeds recorded in storms Irene and Sandy, which also devastated parts of the Northeast in recent years.
"It was the strongest, the most devastating, the deadliest and the costliest for the region and still is," says Lourdes Aviles, a Plymouth State University meteorology professor in Plymouth, N.H., who this month published the book "Taken by Storm, 1938: A Social and Meteorological History of the Great New England Hurricane."
The hurricane was the death knell for many mills and factories that had barely survived the Great Depression. It stripped 4 million bushels of apples from orchards, killed livestock and felled millions of trees, according to Aviles' research. Bridges and dams were destroyed, and rail travel was halted for weeks. ...more