Taken by Storm, 1938: A Social and Meteorological History of the Great New England Hurricane, 2nd Ed.

Author: Lourdes B. Avilés, Ph.D.

Publication: 2018
Publisher: American Meteorological Society
Distributor: University of Chicago Press

ISBN-10 978-1-944970-24-6
Softcover, 265 pages, 46 figures

On September 21, 1938 one of the most powerful storms of the twentieth century came unannounced into the lives of New Yorkers and New Englanders, leaving utter devastation in its wake. The Great Hurricane, as it came to be known, changed everything, from the landscape and its inhabitants' lives, to Weather Bureau practices, to the measure and kind of relief New Englanders would receive during the Great Depression and the resulting pace of regional economic recovery.

The storm formed near the Cape Verde Islands on September 10 but was not spotted until several days later, and was predicted by the understaffed Weather Bureau to head toward Florida. Junior forecaster Charlie Pierce correctly projected the northerly storm track, but senior meteorologists ignored his forecast, a mistake that cost many lives. To be published on the storm's 75th anniversary, this compelling history successfully weaves science, historical accounts, and social analyses to create a comprehensive picture of the most powerful and devastating hurricane to hit New England to date.

Differences Between the First Edition and the new 80th Anniversary Edition
Most of the interior of the book is exactly the same as in the first edition. The main differences are at the beginning and the end. The entire Preface to the 80th Edition is, of course new, as is Chapter 10. In order to accommodate these two additions, the Prologue was repaginated (and we took advantage of the opportunity to make a few small wording adjustments) and the table of contents is updated. The last page of Chapter 9 is also updated and contains the text in the original Epilogue. The original appendix is now only online (in the supplements tab), which gives us the opportunity to show the original report in all its glory, including photos of the original and all its attachments. Chapter 10 now bridges the original last chapter and the book Notes. The book cover is also new. 

Hardly any errors have surfaced since the publication of the first edition of this book, and they are rather trivial: a spurious quotation mark, a leftover set of three asterisks, an undesirable comma. Chapter 6 (page 103, line 2) however, contains an unintended content error in one of the most advanced concepts explained in the book. The words “right” and “left” are switched when describing the location of areas of air convergence and divergence associated with a jet streak (a wind speed maximum in the jet stream) that provides favorable conditions that allow the conversion of the energy available for intensification (the so called “right entrance” and “left exit” regions, or as meteorologists sometimes prefer to describe them, the “equatorward-entrance” and “poleward-exit” regions of the jet streak). The words “top” and “bottom,” also used in the sentence are somewhat ambiguous, since they might be understood as “above” and “below” instead of the intended “north” and “south.” The text in the parenthetical explanation should be replaced with “(In this case the southern-right and northern-left quadrants of the wind maximum that can be observed in the jet stream).”