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Hurricane Force: Tracking America's Killer Storms

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August 29, 2005

Peering through the latticed brickwork of The New Orleans police headquarters parking garage, New York Times journalist Joseph B. Treaster is watching the devastating power of a hurricane up close. Packing winds of 118 miles per hour, Hurricane Katrina is attacking New Orleans, uprooting trees, tearing down power lines, and flattening homes. Inside headquarters, phones are ringing off the hook as more and more people, trapped by the rising floodwaters, call for ...

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Overview

August 29, 2005

Peering through the latticed brickwork of The New Orleans police headquarters parking garage, New York Times journalist Joseph B. Treaster is watching the devastating power of a hurricane up close. Packing winds of 118 miles per hour, Hurricane Katrina is attacking New Orleans, uprooting trees, tearing down power lines, and flattening homes. Inside headquarters, phones are ringing off the hook as more and more people, trapped by the rising floodwaters, call for help. But rescue workers cannot leave the safety of the building until the hurricane has passed. From this harrowing vantage point, Treaster is poised to report on what may prove to be the most infamous storm in American history.

But as with all hurricanes, the story of this storm began weeks before, off the coast of North Africa. Treaster details the evolution of the storm as it unfolds in the sky above the Caribbean Sea and is anxiously tracked by the National Weather Bureau in Florida before it strikes. This is a complete behind-the-scenes account of one of nature's most terrifying and fascinating disasters.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
VOYA

Treaster's use of personal accounts keeps the reader's attention and ensures that the book will not just be read to fulfill school assignments.

School Library Journal

If you already own such well-researched and attractive titles as Patricia Lauber's Hurricanes(Scholastic, 1996) and/or Seymour Simon's Hurricanes(HarperCollins, 2003), you might think you could do without this. Think again.n

Kirkus Reviews

There are many books on the subject of hurricanes, but the personal experience enriches this one and makes it particularly appealing for middle-school readers.

VOYA - Sarah Cofer
Experts believe that hurricanes have become more frequent and more powerful. Thirteen hurricanes struck in 2005, breaking the 1969 record of twelve. Three of them (Katrina, Rita, and Wilma) were listed as category five hurricanes. Treaster, a New York Times reporter, covered Hurricane Katrina from ground zero. He sought shelter on the ninth floor of City Hall along with members of the emergency operations center. Treaster describes the wind and rain that hammered New Orleans and details several 911 calls describing house fires, building collapses, flooding, and drowning. Although his book largely focuses on Hurricane Katrina, Treaster also includes stories and facts about several other hurricanes including Andrew, Charley, Mitch, Rita, and the Great Hurricane of 1900 in Galveston, Texas. This book is a fast-paced, informative, and highly interesting read. Treaster combines facts, history, and first-person accounts of some of the most powerful hurricanes. The text moves quickly from one storm to the next, describing how hurricanes crush and damage cities. Treaster provides lots of factual information including the weather conditions that form hurricanes, tracking, calculating a storm's intensity, building a hurricane-proof house, and more. Pictures appear on almost every page as well as thermal images, satellite images, and weather maps. Text boxes filled with snippets from previous New York Times articles are included throughout the book. Treaster's use of personal accounts keeps the reader's attention and ensures that the book will not just be read to fulfill school assignments.
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Treaster, a New York Times (NYT) journalist, has been exposed to hurricanes since he was a young boy of five growing up in Florida. He has a healthy respect for and also a fascination with the power, beauty, and destructive force of these incredible storms. His story opens with an account of one of the most recent hurricanes to cause severe damage in the gulf coast region—hurricane Katrina. He was asked to enter the beleaguered city to report on the storm for the newspaper. His account pulls no punches as he describes the work of local authorities, state and federal response, the delays caused by erroneous news coverage, and the lack of preparation in Louisiana as compared to states like Florida. Along with the storm drama, readers learn about the origin of the word hurricane, the way storms form, the system of rating a storm's severity, the functions of the National Hurricane Center, and how storms are named. Some like Katrina which have created severe damage and hardship are given names that are retired forever from the naming list. Throughout the book excerpts from NYT articles are highlighted and further enrich the text. Since Treaster is a journalist, his story is eminently readable and, even though the book is text-dense and the type font is small, I just kept tuning the pages. I was also hooked on learning more about these storms and intrigued by the pictures. Students undertaking research about hurricanes and Hurricane Katrina in particular will find Treaster's book an excellent starting point—he clearly gives the background, sets the stage, and describes what happened in New Orleans. In addition, his extensive listing for further reading is divided into nearly twodozen sub categories, and there is an extensive index to his book. He ends by telling readers "Hurricanes are fascinating. But above all they are dangerous. ….unless I'm reporting on a storm, you won't find me trying to reason with hurricane season." The last part of the book contains a series of short chapters which are more like appendices. There is detailed information about the source of the NYT quotes, a description of a hurricane-proof house, a recap of the twenty-seven major storms since 1900, and a detailed time line of events leading up to and through Katrina.
School Library Journal

Gr 4-8 - Using books and other resources listed in his source notes, personal experiences growing up in South Florida and as a reporter for the New York Times, and material garnered from the newspaper, Treaster has created a serious scientific and socioeconomic look at one of nature's deadliest forces. From the tragic Galveston storm of 1900 to Katrina and Rita in 2005, he investigates the weather factors necessary to spawn these meteorological monsters, how scientists define their possible paths and potential power, and the drastic effects and aftermaths when they impact coastal areas. His follow-up includes precautions for the future (building more hurricane-proof housing) and a time line for Katrina. Sidebars touch on such topics as global warming and the disaster of the use of the Superdome as a hurricane shelter. For visual stimulation there are a number of colorful maps and diagrams, and photos aplenty (mostly in color). While the focal point is Hurricane Katrina and the lessons to be learned from it, the book contains other valuable data on fierce storms and the social upheaval engendered by them. If you already own such well-researched and attractive titles as Patricia Lauber's Hurricanes(Scholastic, 1996) and/or Seymour Simon's Hurricanes(HarperCollins, 2003), you might think you could do without this. Think again.-Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
The heart of this informative introduction to the deadly potential of hurricanes is New York Times reporter Treaster's own experience covering Katrina in New Orleans in 2005. Opening with a description of the city at the height of the storm, the author then builds a context, using examples from various major hurricanes to describe how they develop, how storm watchers follow them on the ground and in the air and how meteorologists and civic leaders define and prepare for the danger. Then he returns to his own experience and the aftermath of the storm in Louisiana and Mississippi. Full-color photographs accompany and sometimes underlie the clearly written text. Additional information-adaptations of Times articles-is provided in text boxes. Helpful endmatter includes a description of a hurricane-proof house, a map of major storms, a Katrina time line, source notes, suggestions for further reading, Internet resources and index. There are many books on the subject of hurricanes, but the personal experience enriches this one and makes it particularly appealing for middle-school readers. (Nonfiction. 10-16)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780753460863
  • Publisher: Kingfisher
  • Publication date: 4/18/2007
  • Series: New York Times Series
  • Pages: 128
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.16 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Joseph B. Treaster has been a reporter for The New York Times for more than thirty years. When Hurricane Katrina reached New Orleans, he was one of only a handful of journalists inside the city. He has won numerous awards for his international journalism and is also the author of a book for adults. Treaster lives in New York City.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

1,800 people would be dead. New Orleans, a huge swath of southern Louisiana, and the entire Mississippi coast would be in ruins. The damage would run to perhaps $135 billion, and Katrina would be remembered as one of the deadliest and costliest hurricanes in history.

and the wind was clocking more than one hundred miles an hour, chewing at office buildings, homes, the Superdome—everything in the city.

control toboggan. Somewhere, there was the crash of glass—more windows were breaking. The metal garage door clanged against wrought-iron gates. It buckled like a prizefighter taking a punch to the midsection, shuddered, then straightened out, only to be banged and buckled again.

and 1494 and, according to his journal, was determined not to run into one again. "Nothing but the service of God and the extension of the monarchy would induce me to expose myself to such dangers," he wrote.

their rampages woven into the histories of American towns and cities.

story ranch-style houses. And I saw what I've seen many times. Some houses were in ruins, some had lost their roof. But others had barely been touched.

movies, books, poetry, and paintings. Historians say an Atlantic hurricane inspired Shakespeare's The Tempest. In the Divine Comedy, Dante wrote of "the infernal hurricane," and Joseph Conrad wrote about the Pacific version of hurricanes in his book Typhoon. Artists like Winslow Homer and J.M.W.

Turner have captured the power and mystical qualities of hurricanes in paintings. A storm even shared some big scenes with Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson in the classic movie Key Largo. More recently, Carl Hiaasen, the author of Hoot and a slew of other Florida novels, used the chaos of Hurricane Andrew as the setting for a novel called Stormy Weather.

evacuation, the landing of the storm, palm trees flailing, buildings coming apart; then the aftermath: going home, picking up the pieces, rebuilding.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 1, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jennifer Wardrip, aka "The Genius" for TeensReadToo.com

    I've never had to live through a hurricane. Living in the Midwest, I don't see it happening in the near future, and after reading HURRICANE FORCE I can say that I'm glad! If you've ever wondered about the destructive force of these massive storms, this is definitely the book for you. <BR/><BR/>Although a large portion of the book focuses on the August 2005 arrival of Hurricane Katrina to the Gulf Coast, references are also made to hurricanes dating as far back as the early 1900's. Chapters are also spent on the work done by the National Weather Service in tracking, reporting, and identifying hurricanes, as well as how NWS strategies have changed over the years. <BR/><BR/>Maps and photos of actual radar images are prevalent throughout the book, tracking the progress of well-known hurricanes such as Katrina, Rita, and Charley. Photos of horrific damage resulting from these hurricanes, especially that of Katrina, are also shown, making the devastation seem that much more personable. <BR/><BR/>I would recommend HURRICANE FORCE to anyone interested in hurricanes, Katrina in particular, but also to those looking for more insight on how hurricanes form and what causes them to strike where they do. A highly informative book!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2007

    Courtesy of Teens Read Too

    I¿ve never had to live through a hurricane. Living in the Midwest, I don¿t see it happening in the near future, and after reading HURRICANE FORCE I can say that I¿m glad! If you¿ve ever wondered about the destructive force of these massive storms, this is definitely the book for you. Although a large portion of the book focuses on the August 2005 arrival of Hurricane Katrina to the Gulf Coast, references are also made to hurricanes dating as far back as the early 1900¿s. Chapters are also spent on the work done by the National Weather Service in tracking, reporting, and identifying hurricanes, as well as how NWS strategies have changed over the years. Maps and photos of actual radar images are prevalent throughout the book, tracking the progress of well-known hurricanes such as Katrina, Rita, and Charley. Photos of horrific damage resulting from these hurricanes, especially that of Katrina, are also shown, making the devastation seem that much more personable. I would recommend HURRICANE FORCE to anyone interested in hurricanes, Katrina in particular, but also to those looking for more insight on how hurricanes form and what causes them to strike where they do. A highly informative book! **Reviewed by: Jennifer Wardrip, aka 'The Genius'

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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