The Great Hurricane: 1938

Cherie Burns

If Category 5 hurricanes scare you now, just imagine what it was like in the days before radar, meteorology, the National Weather Service and The Weather Channel. Recounting how Long Island, Connecticut and Rhode Island were devastated seven decades ago by a massive hurricane that took them unawares, Cherie Burns’ recent book, The Great Hurricane: 1938, couldn’t be more timely. The conventional wisdom of the time had it that hurricanes didn’t strike so far north; without knowledge of the jet stream and a way to map it, residents had no way of preparing. Burns introduces us to a number of people going about their business on that late summer day and then shows us what happens when humans are blindsided by the weather. Not that we really need any reminders.