A Brief NYC Hurricane History

Posted on: November 2nd, 2012 at 12:00 pm by


Chiming in on Sandy here. This is less about my take and more about a need to show you that we will get through this; we have done so before.

For pre-20th century (I’m talking back to 1693) hurricanes and others not listed below,  read about “Large ships driven into Governour’s Island,” “Hog Island (near Rockaways) swept away forever” and “The Battery washed away” at Weather2000.com

Here’s a few from the 20th century forward:

Verbiage directly from www.NYC.gov with pictures pulled by yours truly:


The most powerful hurricane known to have made landfall nearby — a category 3 hurricane — occurred in 1938. Its eye crossed over Long Island and into New England, killing nearly 200 people. The storm killed 10 people in New York City and caused millions of dollars in damage. Its floods knocked out electrical power in all areas above 59th Street in Manhattan and in all of the Bronx, the new IND subway line lost power, and 100 large trees in Central Park were destroyed.

Fortunately, New York City experienced the weaker “left side” of the 1938 hurricane — the City was 75 miles from the eye when it passed over Long Island. The hurricane could have caused far more deaths and damage if it passed closer to the five boroughs.


Rockefeller Plaza, Sept. 15, 1944, New York. (AP Photo/ John Lent)

CAROL (first named hurricane)

In 1954, Hurricane Carol made landfall in Eastern Long Island and Southeastern Connecticut. With sustained winds over 100 mph and gusts of 115 to 125 mph, it was the most destructive hurricane to hit the Northeast coast since the Long Island Express in 1938. Fortunately for City residents, the storm’s track was forty miles further east, and spared it a direct hit, but did result in major flooding throughout the City


On the heels of Carol- and not named on NYC.gov’s website- comes Hurricane Edna, September 11, 1954.

Here are eerily similar pictures of LaGuardia Airport then and now:

LaGuardia in 1954 via Associated Press

LaGuardia in 2012


In 1960, Hurricane Donna created an 11-foot storm tide in the New York Harbor that caused extensive pier damage.

WEST AND CORTLANDT streets: New York Times Archives


Leftover rains from hurricanes Diane and Connie caused significant flooding in the City in August 1955, even though the eye of those storms did not cross directly over any of the five boroughs. Diane caused more than 200 deaths in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. Connie dropped more than 12 inches of rain at LaGuardia Airport.

AP Photo/John Lent


In June 1972, Tropical Storm Agnes fused with another storm system in the northeastern U.S., flooding areas from North Carolina to New York State, causing 122 deaths and more than $6 billion dollars in damage (when adjusted for inflation).


The US Army Corps of Engineers has said that 1985’s Hurricane Gloria could have been catastrophic if it arrived at high tide and just a little closer to the City.

AP Photo/Jeffrey Klein: Fifth Avenue

There are hundreds more: Dean, David, Belle, Bertha, Felix, Edouard, Doria, Isabel, Allison, Bonnie, Alex…


In August 2011, Hurricane Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm right before it made landfall in New York City. In preparation the City issued the first-ever mandatory evacuation of coastal areas on August 26, 2011. The evacuation encompassed 370,00 residents living in evacuation zone A, the entire Rockaway Peninsula, and 34 health care facilities located in evacuation zone B. The city sheltered 10,000 evacuees at 81 shelters. The rest stayed with family and friends outside the evacuation zones. Irene dropped up to seven inches of rain across the city and brought winds of 65 mph. The storm cost the city an estimated $100 million in damages. More than 8,000 residents were approved for $13.6 million in federal disaster assistance to help with the recovery.

Because many people felt Irene didn’t “live up to the hype,” we were clearly not as ready for Sandy as we could have been.

SANDY, October 28, 2012.

No need for images. We’re living it.

We are bent, not broken.


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