All coastal states from Texas to Maine are at risk from hurricanes and New Hampshire is no exception. The primary threats associated with hurricanes come from flooding due to a coastal storm surge, inland flooding due to heavy precipitation and severe winds. Hurricanes are known for their high winds and the damage they can cause, but about 80 percent of deaths during hurricanes are due to drowning.
The largest recorded hurricane to strike New Hampshire was the Great New England Hurricane of 1938, which caused $22 million (in 1938 dollars) in direct damage and killed 13 people. A repeat of this event today would be devastating. The state's population has more than doubled since 1938 and much of that population growth has been in areas near the coast or inland waterways. There are many more people in harm's way today. New Hampshire also lacks a statewide building code to enforce wind-resistant construction standards.
Hurricane Bob dealt New Hampshire a glancing blow in 1991 yet still was responsible for $2.5 million in damage and three deaths. It is important to note that tropical storms below hurricane intensity have been responsible for some of the worst inland flooding experienced in the Northeast. Moving slowly and carrying lots of moisture, tropical storms can produce rain of several inches per hour. Even though hurricanes tend to lose intensity and their winds diminish as they move north, the heavy rain they bring can still be dangerous.