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Satellite image of Hurricane Esther

Hurricane Esther was the fifth named storm and fifth hurricane of the 1961 Atlantic hurricane season. A long-lived Category 4 Cape Verde-type hurricane, Esther spent its lifetime offshore, before moving up the East Coast of the United States. Esther made two distinct landfalls in New England, passing over Nantucket Island as a rapidly weakening Category 3 hurricane, then coming ashore in Maine while losing its tropical characteristics. These landfalls were separated by a rather unusual anticyclonic loop over the north Atlantic Ocean.

The hurricane caused $6 million (1961 USD, $37.4 million 2005 USD) in damage along the Eastern Seaboard, mostly on Long Island. Seven indirect deaths were also attributed to Esther after a Navy aircraft crashed in the Atlantic Ocean north of Bermuda, one of only a few documented occurrences of a tropical cyclone causing an airplane crash.

Esther was also one of the first storms targeted by a Navy experiment aimed at weakening hurricanes by seeding their eyewalls with silver iodide. Two flights were made into the storm, and the results of this expedition led to the establishment of the ill-fated Project Stormfury in 1962.