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BOSTON (CBS) — The closest Massachusetts has come to hurricanes in recent years have been Sandy and Irene, which devastated parts of New York and New Jersey.
The last hurricane to make direct landfall in New England was Hurricane Bob, which hit back in 1991. This would lead most to think that destructive tropical events are rare here. Not so. In fact, they can come fast and furious.
Perhaps the most notorious stretch came between 1933 and 1960. This short time brought us Carol, Connie, Diane, Edna, Donna, and Carol again! In fact, Hurricane Carol was the last major hurricane to make landfall in New England. The devastating storm gusted over 135 mph and destroyed nearly 4000 homes.
It also took down the WBZ transmitter and ripped the steeple off of the Old North Church in Boston.
The mid-50s showed us possible worst case scenarios. Boston 1954 and 1955 featured two powerful hurricanes making landfall within two weeks of each other — an incredible feat that’s hard to imagine in this era’s relative calm.
But there’s one storm that, on its own, is the one forecasters fear most. The 1938 hurricane is still the most destructive hurricane to blast New England. The Category 3 storm charged into the region at 70 mph, and with little warning. It produced the strongest wind ever recorded at Blue Hull Observatory, an estimated 186 mph. The storm surge topped 20 feet in some spots and inundated coastal communities.
To this day, the 1938 storm sets the bar for how we should think about tropical events and how we should prepare and build for them to ensure a resilient future.