Books Read In The Past Several Months

Posted in GWC News, Global Warming And Hurricanes, Hurricane Books at 2:59 pm by gmachos

Good afternoon everyone. Things continue to get going in the tropics, and I have been watching, but I wanted to take some time out to mention to you some of the books that I’ve read over the past several months. I hadn’t had much of a chance to read books in recent years due to my work schedule. However, I made it a point this spring to read several books that I bought.

One of the three books was related to hurricanes while the other two dealt with global warming and the Super Tornado Outbreak of 1974. Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming by Chris Mooney was the hurricane related book I read. It talked about the increased debate on the possible link between global warming and increased tropical activity worldwide. The debate was between two camps. One camp, led by Dr. William Gray and consisted of such proteges as Chris Landsea that developed ideas on hurricanes from empirical evidence while the other camp, led by Kerry Emanuel, Peter Webster, and Judith Curry based their beliefs on hurricanes mostly through computer models.

The book also goes into detail on the backgrounds of both Dr. Gray and Emanuel, and where they developed their schools of thought. Mooney also points out how the folks at the National Hurricane Center stood mostly on the sidelines while the debate was taking place. Storm World looks at how the debate became personal between Dr. Gray and others in the field including one of his prized pupils, Greg Holland, who originally felt that there wasn’t a link between global warming, and hurricanes, but as more and more evidence during the 2004 and 2005 seasons came in, began to change his thinking.

Storm World also looked at how the controversy began to make scientists more aware of how they needed to interact with the media about their studies and papers on the subject of global warming and hurricanes. It changed the way they communicated with the public. Some began to take the debate to message boards and other spots on the internet. After the stormy seasons of 2004 and 2005, the number of papers on the subject of global warming and hurricanes increased dramatically. The book also talked about the controversy between the Bush administration, NOAA, and researchers, who felt that they were being censored on the subject. Mooney does a great job of explaining all of this, and putting it all together to present a clear picture on the debate.

Another book on climate change that I read was by Dr. James Hansen, the director of the NASA Goddad Institute and adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University. His book, Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity, discusses the long fight that he has had to overcome government censorship and apathy to get his message across that the planet is in peril. He discusses the different ways and methods that he used to convey his message to the public. He admits that his communication skills aren’t great, but he tries to improve that by doing such things as improving his vocabulary.

He cares very deeply about the subject, and is suspicious of politicians. He believes that money needs to be taken out of politics, and people, particularly our youth, need to get involved and ask the tough questions to our politicians so that the best possible candidates are elected. Hansen talks about how we need to get off coal completely, and that clean coal is just an oxymoron. He adds that if we are unable to get off of coal, we have no grounds to tell the leading oil producing countries such as Saudi Arabia to stop drilling for oil. Hansen has been taking on his battle since the late 1980s when he first warned Congress about climate change. He believes that the planet is at a critical point, and measures must be taken now in order to prevent the warming of the planet from getting out of control.

If you can get through some of his very scientific and detailed discussions on climate, you can find this book interesting, and feel empathetic towards Hansen. I greatly admired the way he tried so hard to get his message out. He tried publishing papers, talking to leaders in not only the United States, but also Great Britain, Germany, and Japan. Hansen also made public speeches, and talks about climate change. Most notably, he battled censorship from the Bush Administration, and refused to be silent. The final book I read was F5: One Town’s Survival of One of the Most Violent Tornado Outbreak of the Twentieth Century by Mark Levine. The book looked at how Limestone County in Alabama dealt with several deadly tornadoes that were spawned during the Super Tornado Outbreak of 1974.

Levine not only goes into vivid detail about the storms and their effects on the towns in that part of the world, but describes the people affected by the twisters. The book paints a picture of each of the participants before, during, and after the storm. Most importantly, though, not all of these stories have a happy ending, but Levine talks about how these people have endured and moved on since the outbreak. The story of the Super Outbreak of 1974 is given amongst a background of the political scandal that is Watergate, President Nixon’s ultimate resignation, and in the aftermath of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.


Hurricanes and the Middle Atlantic States By Rick Schwartz A Great Resource

Posted in Commentary, Hurricane Books at 4:38 pm by gmachos

Good afternoon everyone. A while ago, I finally got around to finishing my reading of the book, Hurricanes and the Middle Atlantic States: A Surprising History from Jamestown to the Present by Rick Schwartz. I had made several earlier posts about this book in the blog, and still plan to do a complete review on it as well. A former resident of Edison, New Jersey, who now lives in the Washington, D.C. area, Schwartz does a great job of explaining to those in the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast that these storms can happen here. In addition, he points out that these storms don’t have to be the major hurricane monsters that we see crashing into the shorelines in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, or Texas.

They can be torrential rainmakers like Hurricane Camille (1969) became when it went through Virginia as a tropical storm, or Hurricane Agnes (1972) as it went through Pennsylvania. They can also be tornado spawning storms like Tropical Storm David was in 1979. Time and time again, Schwartz makes the point that these storms still cannot be underestimated, especially when their tremendous winds have died down, and the threats along the coast have diminished. Furthermore, Schwartz points out that people have short memories when it comes to tropical storms and hurricanes, and that they continue to build on flood plains, and relax building code standards.

I found this book to be a tremendous resource in the sense that it provides a whole catalog of storms from the Colonial period of the 17th Century to the present. Many of the pre-modern storms I’ve added to my list of historic hurricanes. There is also a chapter on Nor’easters, which of course, is much more common in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast than Tropical Storms and Hurricanes. This book is just chuck full of information.

On top of all the reports and stories about the storms themselves, there are sections on Hurricane Preparedness and Safety, The National Flood Insurance Program, Weather Watches and Warnings, the Beaufort Wind Scale, Retired Names of Destructive Hurricanes, Location and web site URLs for National Weather Service Forecast Offices in the Mid-Atlantic, Directory of State Climatologists Offices in the Mid-Atlantic, and a Glossary of Terms.

Like the back cover of the book says, it “offers a window to the past, a crystal ball to the future.” On top of all the facts and information, there are incredible accounts of survival and rebuilding discussed along with actual photographs of the damage from these storms. It is a book that makes you think, and discover new facts about certain storms that you never knew before. A classic example is Hurricane Camille, which is better known as the second Category Five Hurricane to come ashore along the United States mainland in Mississippi. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, it was the worst disaster to affect the Central Gulf Coast.

However, did you know that Camille was also Virginia’s deadliest natural disaster? Yes, it was. Although the storm produced a 24 foot plus storm surge at Pass Christian, Mississippi that swept away many. The bulk of the 291 deaths attributed to the storm happened in the Commonwealth of Virginia, where 151 people died including many in Nelson County thanks to the tremendous flooding spawned by Camille’s torrential rains (27 inches in 5 hours on August 19-20th, 1969). Schwartz goes on further to state how the community of Nelson County came together to rebuild, and press onward in the wake of the disaster.

Schwartz gives a similar account when it comes to Hurricane Agnes, which brought similar devastation to Northeastern Pennsylvania. I thoroughly enjoyed this book from cover to cover, and I think you will too, especially if you live anywhere from New Jersey to Virginia. I will have a complete book review on this soon, but get the word out, it is a fine read, and one that I recommend to everyone.


Buy Rick Schwartz’s New Book Online

Posted in Hurricane Books at 10:17 pm by gmachos

Good Tuesday evening to everyone. I’ve been going through some of my e-mails here at home, and reviewed an e-mail I got last week from Rick Schwartz of Mid Atlantic Hurricanes. Last week, if you recall, I wrote a brief introduction to the book that he had published last year on the subject of historic hurricanes that have affected the states of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey as well as Washington, D.C. Well, if you are interested in this book, and based upon what I’ve seen so far, it is a fine one to add to your collection, it can be purchased online at Amazon.com, and Barnes and Noble as well as Schwartz’s own web site.


Rick Schwartz’s Book–Hurricanes And The Middle Atlantic States

Posted in General, Hurricane Books at 11:53 pm by gmachos

Good evening everyone. Over the past few days, I’ve been reading a book that I received from Rick Schwartz of MidAtlanticHurricanes.com about the hurricane history of the Middle Atlantic States called, “Hurricanes and the Middle Atlantic States: A Surprising History From Jamestown to the Present.” So far I’ve read about 40 pages, but already I’m intrigued by this work. Schwartz, a former resident of nearby Edison, New Jersey, began following hurricanes from the age of 12 when Hurricane Doria threated the Garden State during the course of the 1967 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Schwartz sheds light on the fact that although the Mid-Atlantic, which covers, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey, is often overlooked when it comes to hurricanes, and surprisingly, gets its far share of impacts from tropical storms and hurricanes.

As a matter of fact, Schwartz indicates in his book’s preface that there have been a total of 60 named storms that either were tropical storms or hurricanes that trekked to within a 100 miles of the Mid-Atlantic coast of the United States since 1954. During the long period from 1886 to 2003, there have been a total of 75 hurricanes, or what was left of them, passed through, or close to Maryland. Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania each had similar numbers while Virginia has had more such impacts. Some notable storms have passed through this area of the United States coastline: Camille (1969), Agnes (1972), Belle (1976), David (1979), Gloria (1985), Hugo (1989), Bertha (1986), Fran (1986), Floyd (1999), and Isabel (2003). Schwartz also noted thanks to his discussion with Herbert Saffir, one of the co-authors of the Saffir-Simpson Scale, who passed away last November, that if a powerful hurricane along the lines of Andrew or Katrina came ashore in the Mid-Atlantic, there would be tremendous devastation since the building of homes in this region aren’t held to the same standards as they are in Florida, or along the Gulf Coast.

Now, in just the short time I’ve been reading this, I’ve already found this to be a great resource of information. Some of you may know about the historic hurricanes page that I maintain on the site. Well, every season, I’m looking to add to it not only with entries for powerful storms from a particular year that I’m covering such as 2005, but also passed storms from long ago. This book makes reference to a number of such storms. Books like these always has some tidbit of information that I never knew before. Take for instance the Hurricane of 1609, which had an impact of sorts on the fledgling colony of Jamestown, Virginia, the first colony established in North America. This maelstrom scattered many of the ships that left Great Britain for the outpost in the New World back in June of that year. This would become the basis for the legendary British playwright and poet, William Shakespeare’s play, “The Tempest”. Shakespeare, who had been an investor in the Virginia Company, which supported the Jamestown colony, had heard of the plight of the ships affected by the hurricane.

I’m looking forward to reading more of the book, and intend to have a full book review of it. So, keep your eyes peeled for it.


Hurricaneville’s Sneak Peek At The Destruction Diary of Hurricane Bob

Posted in General, Hurricane Books at 10:55 am by gmachos

Good morning everyone. Well, there is a lull in the tropics right now, but it may not last for long as there are three areas of disturbed weather including a tropical wave about 1200 miles east of the Windward Islands that may become a tropical depression. You can at least say goodbye to Gabrielle, which is still a depression as it heads out to sea away from the Northeastern Coast of the United States. Gabrielle had come ashore along the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Sunday with maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour, gusts up to 65 miles per hour, and a minimum central pressure of 29.68 inches of Hg, or 1005 millibars.

With those preliminaries out of the way, I wanted to shift focus briefly to another book that has recently come into my possession. About a week or so ago, I was contacted by Jeff Lyon with regard to his book, The Destruction Diary of Hurricane Bob. If you recall, I had written an article on the 15th anniversary of the storm last summer. Hurricane Bob was a Category Two Hurricane that came up the East Coast of the United States, and hammered New England with winds as high as 100 miles per hour in August 1991. It even wreaked havoc on then President George H.W. Bush’s vacation at his family retreat in Kennebunkport, Maine. Returning to our story, Mr. Lyon sent me a copy of the book to read, and I received it on Monday. I just glanced at the book, and there are a lot of nice articles and stories about the storm as well as a myriad of photos of the destruction left behind by the storm.

I do recall Hurricane Bob coming up the East Coast. The storm moved well east of the Jersey Shore as it just brushed the tip of Long Island. While there were some clouds, showers, and gusty winds, by no means was it a bad storm for the Garden State, but it certainly was for New England. The region has seen its share of storms over the years including the Great Hurricane of 1821, the Long Island Express of 1938, the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944, storms of the 1950s (Carol is one example), Hurricane Donna (1960), Hurricane Belle (1976), and Hurricane Gloria (1985). I look forward to reading this book more in depth over the coming days. In the meantime, I invite you to get a copy of the book for yourself. Jeff Lyon is selling a limited number of copies on the Craigslist web site.