Weather: The Perfect Storm?

The Perfect Storm?

It was quite a setup. On October 25, 1991, Hurricane Grace first appeared in the waters southwest of Bermuda. Winds increased to 85 mph, but the hurricane seemed to have a brief history. Within four days, that system was absorbed by a large North Atlantic storm. Those storms are not uncommon, but this one was blocked from its normal west to east course, and it began to drift southwestward off the coast of Nova Scotia. The storm absorbed the circulation of "Grace" while a surge of colder air swept eastward through Canada.

The temperature contrast, tropical energy, and the blocking pattern in the North Atlantic combined to deliver a one-of-a-kind storm. It later took on its own tropical characteristics. It was first called the "Halloween Storm" of 1991, later the "no-name hurricane" of 1991, and later still, the "perfect storm."

Automated buoys showed waves of 100 feet! The fishing boat Andrea Gail with its crew of six sank in the mountainous seas. Although rough surf pounded the east coast of New England, the storm, fortunately, never did come closer than 125 miles of the coast. Most residents within a few miles of the coast had no idea that such a massive storm was spinning offshore. But the storm did become the subject of a best-selling book and movie about an ill-fated journey of a fishing vessel from Gloucester, Massachusetts.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Weather © 2002 by Mel Goldstein, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.