"Great September Gale, 1821" (by HanKFranK)
Late on September 3, 1821, what was probably the strongest hurricane to cross the greater New York City area in centuries sped through, having strongly impacted much of the coastline beginning at Norfolk and along the Jersey shore. Surges in the New England Bays were generally 15-20ft, with 10ft+ surges along much of the northeast coast in general. This storm moved very quickly, much like the 1938 hurricane, having been first noted sweeping into the Caribbean near Guadeloupe on September 1. A modern day hurricane of this type would cause unprecedented destruction in the northeast, as the winds of such a storm would likely create a maelstrom of missile debris blasting out the high-rise architecture of New York, and quite probably drive a surge into low lying parts of the metro area, drowning the subway system and expressway tunnels entering the city, and severely damaging the infrastructure otherwise. Damage in places like coastal Rhode Island and on the south shore of Long Island would likely be worse. Studies of ancient overwash sediments in northeastern marshes suggest that an 1821-type event may occur only once every 300-600 years. Far less likely than a Katrina, in other words, but the recurrence interval of such storms is higher out near the Cape and on Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. Strong hurricanes in the northeast tend to occur every decade or two, though. They are roughly due, with Bob of 1991 being the last significant hurricane to hit the region.