Geoff's Reviews > Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History

Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson
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's review
Aug 25, 2010

it was ok

Uses Isaac Cline, and 'meteorologist' of the newly founded and scandal-ridden US Weather Bureau to tell about the Hurricane that nailed Galveston TX in Sep 0f 1900. Weather system back then was in its nascent stages, and weathermen forecast where based on measurements (temp, barometric pressure) rather than Doppler radar. The weather bureau was struggling with scandals by the weathermen manning the posts and by the head, who embezzled a large sum of $ (250K) around 1880's (I think).

The weather bureau totally failed in predicting the hurricane and warning the Town of Galveston to evacuate. At the time, the common accepted knowledge among weather experts, including Cline, was that a hurricane could not hit the town of Texas, they would always veer up the coast. Also, the arrogant attitude toward the Cuban weather casters by the US Bureau leaders did not help. The Cuban reported the hurricane, but alas, the warnings fell on deaf ears. Ever truculent, the US Weather Bureau also denied that the storm the Cubans reported was the same hurricane that hit Galveston. The called it an act of Divination, something no weatherman could predict.

Isaac Kline was very professional and meticulous man, and one of finest weathermen of the bureau. He manned his post well, but was trapped by the limited scientific knowledge of the time. He advised the town people to stay, but to cover his tail, stated that his warnings saved thousands of town residents. The town was devastated by the storm, and killed around 5,000 people. Bodies piled up in the streets and in the debris and destroyed structures. One tree had 100 bodies in it.

words didn't know:

Susurrus-(sue-sur-us) soft whispering sound, soft murmuring or rustling

aborning-in birth, being born, coming into being, before being carried out

abrades-to wear down by scraping or rubbing

florid-1. ruddy, reddish, rosy. 2. flowery, excessive, ornate, showy. florid writing

tarpaulins-a protective covering of canvas or other material waterproofed by tar, paint or wax. tarps. duh.


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