|Saltaire, Long Island.|
Source: Frank Markus, saltaire.com
The Great New England Hurricane of 1938, also dubbed the Long Island Express because of its high forward speed, originated off the Cape Verde Islands on September 9. It traveled across the Atlantic the next 11 days, becoming a hurricane on September 16. It turned north about 400 miles east of Jacksonville, FL on September 20, It would stay on that due north track, along the 72.5° meridian, until it reached southern Vermont on September 21. The northerly storm track was forced by a cold front that moved off the east coast on September 20.
|Surface map on September 20, 1938. Blue line signifies the approximate position of the cold front|
|Estimated track of the hurricane on September 21, 1938, with hourly positions in local standard time and central pressure in millibars. Source: Jarvinen, B. R., 2006: Storm Tides in 12 Twelve Tropical Cyclones (including Four Intense New England Hurricanes|
|Surface map for 2:00 p.m. September 21, 1938. The hurricane made landfall sometime between 2:15 and 2:45 p.m.|
|Source: Geological Impact of the 1938 Hurricane|
This hurricane occurred well before the age of satellites, and so monitoring of tropical systems could only be done through ship reports and land-based weather observations. Exact positions on this storm could only be estimated depending on the number of ship reports. In this case the estimates were further hindered by the fact that the Jacksonville, FL Weather Bureau office had understandably told mariner's to stay in port, so there were few reports to work with. This was also before tropical storms were named.
The National Weather Service Office in New York City has a great web site on this storm. It includes meteorological analysis and statistics, photos, news clippings, and even some video of film taken during the storm. Check out The Great New England Hurricane of 1938.