Though rare, New England hurricanes have proven to be destructive, deadly

By Jesse Ferrell,
Tracks of hurricanes that made landfall between 1938 and 1991.

Tracks of hurricanes that made landfall between 1938 and 1991.

As hurricane forecasters await an anticipated northward turn of Hurricane Lee, New England residents continue to watch to see if they might be affected.


New York City, Long Island and New England have been hit by hurricanes over the years but not officially since Hurricane Bob in 1991.

More recently, tropical systems that were not officially hurricanes when they hit the region have done significant damage in New York City and the coast of southern New England, including Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and Tropical Storm Henri and Tropical Rainstorm Ida in 2021.

The most recent hurricane hit in New England was under the unassuming name "Bob."

On Aug. 19, 1991, Category 1 Hurricane Bob made landfall in Rhode Island with 100 mph winds, which killed 17 people and caused $1.5 billion in damage (1991 USD). At the time, because of the heavily-populated area affected, it was one of the costliest hurricanes in the United States.


Hurricane Gloria made landfall on Long Island as a Category 1 storm with 85-mph winds on Sept. 12, 1985, after striking the Outer Banks of North Carolina as a Category 2 storm. Like Hurricane Donna 25 years prior, heavy rain and high winds caused damage across much of the East Coast.

Hurricane Donna slammed into the Florida Keys as a Category 4 storm in September 1960 then made landfall again on the Florida mainland and eastern North Carolina before coming ashore as a Category 2 storm on Long Island on Sept. 12. In total, the storm killed 50 people in the U.S., and damages approached $1 billion (1960 USD).

Flooding and power outages were recorded from Florida to Maine.

Storm surge from Hurricane Carol batters the coast of Connecticut on August 31, 1954. Photo courtesy NOAA

The only year on record to have two hurricanes make landfall in the northeastern U.S. was 1954. On Aug. 31, Hurricane Carol hit the eastern tip of Long Island as a Category 3 hurricane.

Less than two weeks later, on Sept. 11, Hurricane Edna hit Massachusetts as a Category 2 storm.

The worst effects of a hurricane are often seen on its eastern flank. Carol's highest storm surge and winds were mostly east of Long Island.


An unnamed hurricane of 1938 hit farther west on Sept. 21, causing immense damage on Long Island and coastal New England. Colloquially called the Long Island Express, it is considered the worst storm to hit the area and was certainly the deadliest.

The hurricane killed between 600 and 800 people, as it hit with little warning. Scores of trees were felled, with 35 percent of New England's forests were affected. Damage was estimated at $308 million (1938 USD). The storm almost killed actress Katherine Hepburn.

Only one hurricane has ever officially made landfall in the state of Maine. Hurricane Gerda came inland just west of Cross Island on the evening of Sept. 9, 1969. There was minor damage from Massachusetts up the coast, but no injuries or fatalities were reported.

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