On September 21, 1938, one of the most powerful storms of the twentieth century came unannounced into the lives of New Yorkers and New Englanders, leaving utter devastation in its wake. The Great Hurricane, as it came to be known, changed everything, from the landscape and its inhabitants' lives, to Weather Bureau practices, to the measure and kind of relief New Englanders would receive during the Great Depression and the resulting pace of regional economic recovery. The storm formed near the Cape Verde Islands on September 10 but was not spotted until several days later, and was predicted by the understaffed Weather Bureau to head toward Florida. Junior forecaster Charlie Pierce correctly projected the northerly storm track, but senior meteorologists ignored his forecast, a mistake that cost many lives - including those of immigrants who had moved to the Northeast in waves in the preceding decades. Published to commemorate the storm's seventy-fifth anniversary, this compelling history successfully weaves science, historical accounts, and social analyses to create a comprehensive picture of the most powerful and devastating hurricane to hit New England to date.
Lourdes B. Aviles is associate professor at Plymouth State University's Meteorology Program in Plymouth, New Hampshire. She is a member of the AMS History Committee on the History of Atmospheric Science and the AMS Board on Higher Education and a liaison to the AMS Board on Women and Minorities.