How hurricanes have indelibly shaped America's land and society.
Drawing on abundant sources, including material from the National Hurricane Center, National Weather Service, and Hurricane Research Division, and with an academic background in environmental policy, Dolin, who has a doctorate in environmental policy, offers an authoritative and lively history of hurricanes, beginning with 15th-century storms and ending with major hurricanes of 2017 and a brief account of Hurricane Dorian of last year. Besides chronicling the tense period leading up to landfall, the violent impact, the immediate responses, and the long-term recoveries, the author offers a fascinating history of weather forecasting, which was revolutionized by the telegraph in the mid-19th century. The Smithsonian Institution became the first repository of meteorological information when telegraph operators were instructed to send a message each morning describing the weather: cloudy, fair, or rainy. Soon, they added readings from meteorological instruments, making their forecasts more useful. In 1870, the U.S. Army Signal Corps took over weather forecasting, creating maps that could “predict the progression of weather over time.” But accuracy eluded forecasters until airplanes, satellites, radar, and computers came into play—and even then, controversy sometimes erupted about the intensity and course of a storm. Dolin traces many major events: “a storm surge of biblical proportions” in Galveston, Texas, in 1900; the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926; the Labor Day Hurricane that swept through the Florida Keys in 1935; the “sudden, jarring, widespread, and devastating” Great Hurricane of 1938; Hurricane Andrew in 1992, Katrina in 2005, and Sandy, which besieged New York City in 2012. Efforts to control hurricanes, such as seeding clouds with dry ice or silver iodide, failed. Other proposals, such as towing icebergs from the Arctic to cool the ocean and diminish a storm’s energy, were “outlandish and totally impractical.” Dolin underscores the threat of global warming to worsen hurricanes and urges society to act quickly and boldly “to counter this threat in any way we can.”
A sweeping, absorbing history of nature's power.(118 illustrations)