Historical Perspective: New England Hurricane of 1938

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Since Hurricane Irene will be striking towards New York City, and then further north into New England, it’s worth taking a look at another notable storm that hit the same area.  Before Hurricanes were given names, a killer storm hit that area in 1938.  Here is some newsreel footage, via the Wall Street Journal…

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Here is another video. It is much longer, with more extensive footage of the disaster. However, the entire second half is a propaganda piece for the New Deal Era WPA.

Obviously there are two significant differences between then and now.  One is that Irene is not as powerful as the 1938 storm.  Also, modern detection and warning systems have allowed us to track Irene from it’s inception as a tropical wave of the coast of Africa.  In fact, Henry Margusity from Accuweather was calling for the possiblibilty of an East Coast storm since the 17th…

The system to watch is the one off Africa. That system will move across the Atlantic and northern Caribbean, and I believe it will become a hurricane. It will be either Irene or Harvey depending on what happens with the first system in the Caribbean.

Now I am going to stick my neck out and say that folks from Florida to New England need to be watching what is going on with this system. The path and upper-level pattern will take the storm, not into the Atlantic but toward the East Coast of the U.S. by late next week. I don’t think it’s a Gulf of Mexico storm, but one that could just plow into the Southeast or even come up the I-95 corridor. Again, I don’t want to hype the situation up, but the pattern is leading to that type of a path for the storm.

Technology is going to allow for a lower loss of life.  We should be thankful for that.

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