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Sandy In Perspective: A History of Long Island Hurricanes

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Long Island, far from the tropical environment of the Caribbean, is generally not known for being hit by tropical systems, especially hurricanes. But when they do come to this island, as evident by Hurricane Sandy, the damage is immense. Over the past hundreds of years, there have been a few notable hurricanes and tropical storms that have had similar effects on Long Island as Hurricane Sandy, which made landfall as a Category 2 storm.

1804: A rare snow hurricane dropped 30 inches of snow on Long Island.

1938: The most powerful storm to hit Long Island in modern history was the Long Island Express Hurricane.  It is also referred to as the New England Hurricane of 1938, and it ran through the northeast with Category 3 force winds, killing 682 people and destroying 57,000 homes.

1960: Hurricane Donna made  landfall as a Category 2 storm. However, due to preparations before the storm, the damage was not too severe and no deaths were reported.

1985: Hurricane Gloria hit Long Island as a Category 2 storm, with wind gusts of 100 mph. While equal in wind strength to Hurricane Sandy, the storm was not as wide or devastating.  It destroyed 48 homes and contributed 300 million dollars of damage in 1985 dollars.

2011: Tropical Storm Irene just missed being classified as a hurricane when it hit southern Long Island, instead meteorologists referred to it as a strong tropical storm. Irene left 350,000 Long Island homes and businesses without power, about a third of the number that Sandy left powerless.  However, Irene was smaller in size compared to Sandy and did not have Sandy’s vicious storm surge, so the actual damage caused was not as severe.

2012: Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey as a Category 1 storm, but combined with another weather system to create a “superstorm” with a diameter of 1,100 miles. Sandy caused an estimated 65 billion dollars in damages, the second most expensive storm, Hurricane Katrina being the first. After the storm dissipated, Sandy caused 253 deaths throughout the U.S and the Caribbean.

Beyond these four storms and Hurricane Sandy, there has been 84 tropical systems to hit Long Island.