Sudden Sea: The Great Hurricane of 1938

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9780316739115: Sudden Sea: The Great Hurricane of 1938

It was the Perfect Storm. But instead of raging far out in the Atlantic, the Great Hurricane of 1938 left a wake of death and destruction across seven states. It battered J. P. Morgan's Long Island estate, wiped out beach communities from Watch Hill to Newport, flooded the Connecticut Valley, and flattened Vermont's prized maples.Traveling at record speeds, the storm raced up the Atlantic Coast, reaching New York and New England ahead of hurricane warnings and striking with such ferocity that seismographs in Alaska picked up the impact. Winds, clocked at 186 mph, stripped cars of their paint. Walls of water 50 feet high swept homes and entire families out to sea. Sandwiched between the Great Depression and World War II, the storm had a profound impact upon a generation. 'The day of the biggest wind has just passed,' the newswires read the next day, 'and a great part of the most picturesque America, as old as the Pilgrims, has gone beyond recall or replacement.' Drawing upon newspaper accounts, the personal testimony of survivors, forecasters, and archival footage, SUDDEN SEA recounts that terrifying day in gripping detail. Scotti describes the unlikely alignment of meteorological conditions that conspired to bring a tropical cyclone to the Northeast. A masterful storyteller, Scotti follows the trajectory of that awful wind-and recovers for posterity the lost stories of those whose lives, families, and communities were destroyed by the Hurricane of 1938.

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About the Author:

R. A. Scotti, a former journalist at the Providence Journal, is the author of numerous thrillers and novels of international espionage. She lives in New York City. This is her second work of nonfiction.

From Publishers Weekly:

Former journalist and mystery novelist Scotti successfully applies her skills in both genres to this detailed retelling of the 1938 hurricane that ripped across seven Northeastern states and killed 682 people, "the most destructive natural disaster in U.S. history-worse than the San Francisco earthquake, the Chicago fire, or any Mississippi flood." Although the enormity of the destruction has been written about before, Scotti focuses on "a few experiences that seem representative of many more" through interviews with hurricane survivors, their families and friends, as well as previously published recollections by survivors, including the late Katharine Hepburn. Scotti's detailed look at the general extent of the hurricane's destruction adds poignancy to individual stories, such as those of Joseph Matoes, who sees his children swept away from their school bus as they are battered by huge waves; Lillian Tetlow and Jack Kinney, two sweethearts who survive a storm that destroys Napatree, R.I., and who later marry; and Charles Pierce, a "green and unsure" junior forecaster for a woefully underprepared U.S. Weather Bureau (now the National Weather Service) who stands against his experienced superiors as the only forecaster to recognize the danger of the hurricane. Scotti also skillfully presents the details of a hurricane, although she reminds us that "after decades of study and with all the technological tools of the trade... we still cannot predict a hurricane more than twenty-four hours in advance."
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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