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Remembering The Great New England Hurricane of 1938

The category 3 storm is still the biggest natural disaster in New England's history.

This week is the anniversary of the Great New England Hurricane of 1938.

Moving at an amazing 50 mph, the storm surprised the region with its ferocity. Sustained winds were measured at 121 mph with gusts reaching 183 mph.

The storm forced Durham Fair officials and to cancel the event, marking the only time the fair has been canceled other than during World War II.

More than 250 New Englanders died as a result of the hurricane. Residents as far away from Long Island Sound as Burlington, VT, could taste the salt water of the ocean in their mouths from the storm.

The barometric pressure in Hartford, CT, reached an all-time low of 28.04 inches of mercury! An enormous fire engulfed the waterfront of New London, destroying four city blocks.

More than 2,000 people were injured. The cost of the storm was estimated to be in the $300 million dollar range (in 1938 dollars.) It was the biggest natural disaster ever for New England.

Jean McKee September 22, 2012 at 08:33 PM
I am one of those who remembers it well. My grandparents were in Cheshire where we lost a marvelous old tree, the tops of all the Locust trees, and my grandmother wore hip boots down to the mailbox, then located at the junction of S. Brooksvale Rd. and Mt. Sanford. My family drove up from NYC for the weekend -- one downed tree in our way -- and on Saturday we counted the rigns on the maple -- got over 300 as I recall. Many more stories from NYC, as penthouse furniture and awnings sailed away! No one knew it was a hurricane until it passed. The boat of one friend planed down Great South Bay on LI - found wedged between trees. And so it went.

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