Today in History: The Great New England Hurricane of 1938

Today is the 82nd anniversary of the day the “Long Island Express” came ashore on Long Island, New York.  This is the storm that my grandparents’ generation always talked about when they talked about how bad hurricanes in New England could get.

Pretty damn bad.

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The EL Faro disaster and lessons learned

In the April 2018 edition of Vanity Fair, there is an excellent article by William Langewiesche called “THE CLOCK IS TICKING”: INSIDE THE WORST U.S. MARITIME DISASTER IN DECADES.  It is the best article I have yet read about the loss of the SS El Faro on October 1, 2015, after the ship sailed into Hurricane Joaquin.  It was the worst American loss at sea since the 1983 sinking of the SS Marine Electric, which I wrote about here.  Thirty-three people died, including 8 crew members from New England and five Polish shipyard workers.

An identifying video still from the US Navy showing the stern of the El Faro after the wreck was found some three miles underwater.

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Our wacky New England weather

Yesterday it was raining and the temperature actually dropped into the upper 40’s.  In June.  There is actually a slight chance of us having a Nor’Easter on Friday.  Oh, crazy New England weather, don’t ever change.  Honestly, I still prefer you to baking in the humid Southern sun.

And speaking of insanity and bad weather, we are supposed to have a bad hurricane season this year.  That wouldn’t be quite as troubling except that the current occupant of the White House has not yet put anyone in charge of NOAA, FEMA, or the NHC.*  He can, however, find the time to go play a lot of golf and to tweet all sorts of crazy stuff.  Needless to say, people in hurricane-prone places like Florida are starting to notice.

Well, since Trump is also planning to slash FEMA’s budget as well as the NOAA budget and the NASA budget, maybe they think we don’t need to worry about being able to predict the weather.  We should just sit back and not worry about silly things like storm forecasts and we can just go back to the blissful days of yore, when major storms could sneak up on people with little to no warning and do horrendous damage.

Nah, that could never happen again, right?


*It turns out Trump did nominate someone to lead FEMA in late April, but the Senate has not yet voted on the nominee, probably because they are so busy trying to take away everyone’s health insurance.

The science and history of rogue waves, part three

I found another good video on YouTube about rogue waves, and this one actually talks at length about the dangers to offshore platforms and people on shore from rogue waves, using actual recent historical examples.

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Happy 4th of July everyone

Here in Boston we had some scheduling insanity due to the weather predicted for today.  Even though the big Boston Pops fireworks event was moved to Thursday the 3rd from Friday the 4th, the festivities still began early and then ended with a bit of chaos when the bad weather blew in shortly after the fireworks ended.

And wow, did the weather get ugly.

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Tacloban, Samar Island, and two very different storms

After more than a week, many survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines are still struggling to get basics like food, water and shelter.  And places like Samar, Leyte, and Tacloban are now getting mentioned in the news all over the world.  Samar and Leyte seem to have been hit the worst from the typhoon.

I know these place names.  Not because I have ever been there (I haven’t), but because of their famous place in history – specifically, in the fall of 1944, when the Allied invasion of the Japanese-occupied Philippines led to what was the largest naval battle in all of World War Two, and possibly the largest in recorded human history.

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Terrible news from the Philippines

Now that Typhoon Haiyan has passed over the Philippines and headed west towards Vietnam, the people there have had a chance to begin initial assessments of the damage done, and it doesn’t look good.  One observer has described the scene as “apocalyptic”.  Some areas are so devastated that there is no communication from them at all.   Accurate assessments of casualties at this point are impossible, but it looks as if the loss of life will easily be in the hundreds, if not the thousands.

If you have any ability to help at all, here’s some groups that are assisting with relief efforts: the Philippine Red Cross; the World Food Program; Shelter Box; and Americares.


Possibly the strongest typhoon ever recorded

Wow.  Glad we don’t have a storm like this anywhere near us.

Super Typhoon Haiyan is definitely the strongest storm of 2013, and it may just be one of the strongest ones ever recorded, with sustained winds of 195 miles per hour and gusts of up to 230 mph.  Imagine that.  Good God, an EF5 tornado has winds of 200 plus miles an hourAnd this is a tropical cyclone, causing damage over a much wider area.   They probably won’t even know for a while just everything that it has done.  The size and power of it are just mind-boggling.  Hopefully the loss of life in the Philippines and other places in its path will be minimal.  They seem to have been quite prepared, at least.

I will settle for some cooler weather and rain here, thank you very much.


A New Storm Naming System Proposal

I am a bit of a weather geek, and a history geek, and sometimes a weather history geek.  But you knew that already.

So anyway, I heard about this interesting proposal to change the naming system for hurricanes, and I certainly appreciate the sentiment.

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