Hurricane Roger roared in over the Atlantic seaboard at high noon, shattering a calm morning marred only by light showers. From the Florida Keys to Plymouth Rock, citizens had gone about their business as usual.
At one p.m., a 120-knot gale ripped its way across the beaches, toppling telephone poles and radio towers and crippling communications. At 1:30, a ten foot tidal wave swept inland, trapping hundreds of householders in unprepared dwellings and whole classes of schoolchildren at their lessons.
Within minutes, whole flotillas of fishing boats swamped in bays, and countless small craft were swept under at their fragile buoys. While major Atlantic fleet warships were able to ride out the gale with only topside damage, destroyers dragged anchor and grounded, landing craft capsized, and boats were sunk.
Merchant shipping, caught in the open sea with deck loads or with open hatches at piers, took an awesome beating. At civilian and military air fields, grounded aircraft snapped hastily-rigged lashings and were smashed to wreckage, and control towers tried in vain to “raise” planes in flight.