As New Englanders brace for Hurricane Sandy—the “Frankenstorm” that is expected to reach full intensity Monday evening and Tuesday—history-minded residents have recalled the area’s last monster storm: a Category 3 behemoth known locally as the Long Island Express.
Though first sighted off Puerto Rico and expected to make landfall in Florida, the powerful Category 3 storm took a sudden sharp turn north and crashed into Long Island with very little warning on Sept. 21, 1938. The storm claimed 600 lives in the New York area, destroying nearly 9,000 homes and caused $306 million in damage, which would be about $18 billion today. Damage to trees and infrastructure could still be seen around Long Island until as late as 1950.
The extent of Sandy’s wrath is still hard to predict. Last year’s Hurricane Irene, which caused a similar spate of panicked preparation, ended up having little impact in New York City, but it did cause massive flooding and up to $15.6 billion of damage in upstate New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire.