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- The story of the nineteenth-century Cuban Jesuit whose success at predicting the great cyclones was considered almost mystical.
- A new look at Isaac Cline, whose infamous failure to predict the Galveston Hurricane left him obsessed with the devastating effects of storm surge.
- The story of the Hurricane Hunters, including the first man ever to deliberately fly into a hurricane.
- A complete account of how computer modeling has changed hurricane tracking.
- A history of Project Stormfury: the only significant, organized effort to reduce the damaging strength of severe hurricanes.
- A unique firsthand account of Hurricane Andrew by both authors, who were at the National Hurricane Center when Andrew struck.
- A listing of the deadliest storms in history.
Tom shines a large flashlight at the top of the front wall and sees it pulling away from the ceiling. This is a reinforced concrete tie beam connecting the walls to the roof, and these winds are doing their best to lift it right off the house. The family moves closer to the hallway door and starts praying. Suddenly and with a tremendous crash the entire front of their house slams inward, while the front half of the roof is ripped away. A large blunt object strikes Tom in the back, knocking him across the room. Laurie quickly crawls through the debris to the hallway, taking the two terrified children with her. She places Ryan and Caitlyn on shelves in the linen closet off the hall? way and crouches in the open doorway to protect them with her own body.
Where is Tom now? Where is her mother? Are they alive or dead? Laurie has only her fears and her prayers.
• * *
Great tropical cyclones are the largest and most destructive storms on the face of this planet; collective memory never forgets the passage of a powerful deadly storm such as Hurricane Andrew in South Florida in 1992. In the past, these typhoons and hurricanes struck without warning. Today, this never happens. We can forecast the great storms with increasing, often remarkable, accuracy. We can save lives and property--some lives, some property. However, we will never be able to stop these storms. The residents of shorelines of the world exposed to storms from the tropics, and the tourists who flock to these sandy paradises will always prick their ears when they hear the words, "A hurricane watch has been posted for. . ."
|Chapter 1||Early History and Science||3|
|Chapter 2||Nineteenth Century||31|
|Chapter 3||Early 1900s||61|
|Chapter 4||Flying Reconnaissance||96|
|Chapter 5||The 1950s||125|
|Chapter 6||The 1960s||142|
|Chapter 7||Controlling Storms||157|
|Chapter 8||The 1970s and '80s||179|
|Chapter 9||Computer Modeling||203|
|Chapter 10||Hurricane Andrew||222|
|Chapter 11||The Future||265|
|A.||Tropical Cyclone Terminology and Seasons||285|
|B.||Atlantic Basin Hurricane Names||287|
|C.||The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Potential Damage Scale||290|
|E.||The Strongest Hurricanes to Hit the U.S. Gulf and East Coasts 1900-2000||295|
|G.||The Deadliest U.S. Hurricanes 1900-2000||299|
|H.||The Deadliest Hurricanes since 1492||301|
|I.||Damage Cost Compared to Death Rate, 1900-1999||303|
|J.||What Past Hurricanes Would Cost Today||304|
|K.||Forecasting Computer Models Used by the National Hurricane Center||305|
|L.||Preparing for Hurricanes||309|
Posted December 2, 2002
This book chronicles the historical development of scientific knowledge concerning the nature and behavior of hurricanes and the parallel advances made in forecasting and prediction. I was pleased but not surprised to see Ben Franklin credited with the discovery that big storms, such as hurricanes, do not necessarily move in the same direction that the winds are blowing. Franklin was also among the first to chart the Gulf Stream and to understand the relationship between brilliantly-colored sunsets and major volcanic eruptions. The book presents a chronology of hurricanes in the Americas replete with detailed observations about the storms including some that had significant historical outcomes. The painstakingly slow growth in knowledge of hurricanes accelerated greatly in the days after WWI, a pattern that continues to this day. Aircraft equipped to measure atmospheric pressures and wind speeds, radar, satellite technology, fast computers, and courageous pilots have contributed dramatically to understanding hurricanes and to forecasting their paths, arrival times, and wind speeds. The authors should have avoided using relative humidity as a synonym for water vapor. Water vapor, not relative humidity, condenses to rain, and condensation of water vapor is known to be the major internal energy source for these big storms. Andrew, 1992, was very important to the modern study of hurricanes. It forced a thorough reevaluation of hurricane preparedness, hurricane resistant building practices, and of how ground level wind speeds are predicted from measured upper altitude winds speeds. Once a building is breaking apart, all sorts of solid objects become airborne missiles that can inflict additional damage on impact and set additional flying projectiles into motion. Interior water damage and catastrophic structural failures of walls and roof are significantly reduced or eliminated by impact resistant shutters that protect against windows breaking. Given our knowledge of hurricane behavior and forecasting skills, the tragic outcomes inflicted by the Galveston storm of 1900 and Camille should not be repeated. Sophisticated technological skills are the good news. The bad news is that coastal development has placed many more people in the hurricane danger zone and raised the ante on potential property damages. In spite of impressive forecasting abilities, property damage tolls continue to rise. The book should appeal to anyone with a basic curiosity about hurricanes and should be of special interest to coastal planners, officials, and policy makers with responsibility for the safety and well being of the public.
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Posted September 23, 2011
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