September 13 - 1938: Unnamed Hurricane hits Cape without warning

Hurricane sweeps coast. 80 die in New England flood
The damage to the railroad tracks in Wareham following the 1938 storm.

1938: Unnamed hurricane rips through New England

On this day in 1938 Cape Cod and New England were hit with the worse hurricane since 1869

It was called the "Labor Day Storm" or "The Yankee Clipper" and hit without  warning due to the lack of today's storm tracking radar. It was soon forgotten because this was the day Germany invaded Czechoslovakia amidst the run-up to World War II.

The story below has the first estimates, but later it was known that the hurricane was estimated to have killed between 682 and 800 people, destroyed almost 60,000 homes and caused property losses estimated at $306 million ($4.7 billion in 2013).

The story in the New York Times this day began:

Hurricane Sweeps Coast; 11 Dead, 71 Missing, 80 Die In New England Flood

Many Are Reported Missing--Floods Threaten Rivers All Over the East

Lashing widespread areas along the Atlantic seaboard that were already suffering flood conditions from days of drenching rain, a tropical hurricane passed along the coast from Cape Hatteras to Nantucket yesterday to cause scores of deaths and incalculable property damage.

The Associated Press reported that at least 100 were dead and more than that number missing. Of the dead eighty were in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire...

Massachusetts State police, from their headquarters in Boston, reported twenty-three persons were missing in the Cape Cod town of Fairhaven, and said they were checking unconfirmed reports three persons had been killed in Easton, one in Mansfield and two in Swansea, Mass...

The entire city of New Bedford was in darkness except for two public buildings and there was no electric power. Damage in the city alone was estimated by some officials at $1,000,000. The militia was called out to protect waterfront homes.

Read the rest of the article in the New YorkTimes here.


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