The Great Hurricane Of 1938 Essay

1583 words - 6 pages

The Great Hurricane of 1938, or known to many as the Long Island Express, was known as one of the most disastrous hurricanes to hit New England. It wasn’t the high winds, heavy rain, and high waves/storm surge that gave this hurricane its title in history. The Great Hurricane had a fourth deadly weapon; the element of surprise. It was the beginning of September, a time where many packed up their summer clothes, boarded up their houses, and left to return back to the real world leaving their summer homes behind. When symptoms of a storm approached New England, many locals convinced themselves and others that it was just the normal “line storm” which occasionally comes in September. It wasn’t until Sept 21 that people realized the so-called impossible was actually happening and they weren’t prepared. The misinterpretation by the people and Weather Bureau’s naïve manager’s decisions cost many lives and losses in New England. In this essay I will argue that Washington’s Weather Bureau’s interpretation error gave the New England residents a false sense of security for the hurricane of 1938 by using three class readings and the book Sudden Sea by R.A. Scotti.
In the reading “Genesis” from the book Divine Wind I have learned that most storms need a trigger to develop into a hurricane. An example of a believed trigger is the atmospheric disturbances known as African easterly waves. They develop over the sub-Saharan Africa, thanks to the Sahara Desert’s heat, and move off the west coast. Most will keep traveling west and somewhat northward. The easterly waves may turn into hurricanes when, “especially in late summer and early fall, the amount of convection associated with a particular wave increases, and winds near the surface evolve from the typical wavy pattern of an easterly wave into a closed circulation. A tropical depression is born. If conditions remain favorable, the depression may develop further into a tropical storm and, later, into a full-blown hurricane.” (Genesis, 99). On page 34 of the book, Sudden Sea, the author describes a discovery in the Sahara Desert. Meteorologists noticed a slight shift in the wind; an area of unstable air was passing over northwest Africa. Within a day or two it moved over the Atlantic Ocean to around the Cape Verde Islands. This should have been the first sign to the Weather Bureau to watch this particular storm. Although storms born off of the Sahara Desert were more likely to become nothing, there was still a slight chance it would develop from the unstable air combining with moisture built up from the heat of the equator off of the islands.
The first mistake the Jacksonville’s weather bureau made was to call all extra relief workers and coast guards from New York and New England down to Florida to prepare for the storm. While looking out and protecting Florida, they took many needed hands from the northeast, which was hit harder. Their second mistake, a more important one, was to assume this storm was...

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