New England Numbers | Hurricane of ’38

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Hurricane of 1938

Flooding from the Hurricane of 1938 in Keene, NH.

Keene Public Library and the Historical Society of Cheshire County

A look at the facts and figures for the Great Hurricane of 1938, the most powerful and deadliest hurricane in recent New England history.


feet: Connecticut River’s height above flood stage at Hartford


feet: high-tide peak from New London (CT) to Cape Cod (MA)


deaths and 1,700 injuries in southern New England


feet: depth of storm tide covering the streets of Providence, RI


cost of storm damage in 1938 dollars


homes destroyed


workers brought to New York and New England by Bell Systems to repair downed phone lines


miles per hour: peak wind-gust speed, strongest ever recorded at Blue Hill Observatory in Milton, MA


estimated cost of storm damage in 2007 dollars


fishing boats destroyed

60 mph

Landspeed of the storm as it moved north across Connecticut, after making landfall 10 miles east of Milford (the rapid speed prevented it from losing strength as most storms do after landfall)

27.94 inches

Barometric pressure at landfall, the lowest of the storm, measured Bellport, New York, on the south side of Long Island


Category of the hurricane at the time of landfall, although it had been a Category 5 at sea

25 foot

Storm surge, a wall of water fueled by high winds and low atmospheric pressure that inundated the coast

30 to 50 foot

Waves, on top of the storm surge, that pounded Long Island’s south shore

3:30 p.m.

Time of landfall on Long Island, just a few hours before high tide which was higher than normal that day due to the coincidence of the Autumnal Equinox and a New Moon


New inlets created by the storm surge, including Shinnecock Inlet on Long Island

50 miles

Width of the eye at landfall

More Information: Read a Yankee Classic about the Hurricane of ’38, “Wind that Shook the World.”

  • Frederick

    I can ewmwmber all the yachts from the clubs along Dorchester Bay being blown ashore and smashing each other into the sands.
    I remember one incident when the owner of a large yacht saw his boat run shore on the beach all by itself. He was hysterical with joy. Then along came a big barge, torn loose from its moorings, and smashed the yacht into the sand.
    I was in high school at the time and remember it well..

  • Although I was only 1 at the time, I can remember the large, fallen trees in my Grandfather’s yard in Seekonk, Ma. These memories were probably a year or so later.


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