Hurricane Of '38: American Experience

Season 6, Episode 4 of 12

In September of 1938, a great storm rose up on the African coast and b egan to cross the Atlantic. The National Weather Bureau predicted it w ould blow itself out at Cape Hatteras, just as such storms usually did . But there was nothing typical about this storm. Without sophisticate d forecasting tools, the East Coast was taken by surprise as the storm suddenly headed north. Within 24 hours of the Weather Bureau's benign forecast, the so-called "Florida cyclone" ripped into the New England coast with a fury that set off seismographs in Alaska. Expecting only heavy rains, people found themselves, virtually without warning, in t he midst of the most devastating storm ever recorded in North America. Traveling at 60 m.p.h., with peak gust winds surging up to three time s that speed, the storm killed some 600 people, destroyed 8,000 homes, and wrecked 6,000 boats. This program follows the lives of fishermen, Shinnecock Indians, and vacationers who were caught up in this incred ible natural disaster.

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