A Furious Sky

A Furious Sky: The Five Hundred Year History of America’s Hurricanes
© 2020 Eric Jay Dolin
415 pages

A Furious Sky is a history of hurricanes in American history, opening with Columbus’ attempts to warn a rival governor of imminent danger and wrapping up with one of the busiest hurricane seasons on record, in which three major systems crashed into the American mainland in a few months’ time.   Although the author focused on the development and impact of the storms themselves, featuring numerous systems from colonial days until the present,  he also follows the growth of meteorological  forecasting in the United States, culminating in satellite coverage.  Many of the high-dollar storms have occurred in living memory, like Andrew and Katrina, but there are more here from the 18th and 19th centuries that have more generic names (“The Great Storm of 18__”,etc).  I didn’t appreciate how devastated the northeast has been by hurricanes throughout  history, in part because they’re rare enough that locals forget about the threat.  Furious Sky is quite readable, but were it not for the occasional forays into another topic, like the curious tale of how hurricanes came to be named after women,  repetition would be an issue – it’s literally one storm after another,  and the study of hurricane science stops in the early 20th century, with no discussion of oceanic cycles and that sort of thing.  If you enjoy reading about disasters (and I, for some perverse reason, too), this should be a good read — but I’d go slow and take it in sections to keep it from growing stale. If you live in a hurricane-prone area, it’s also a grim antidote to the tendency to forget the dangers posed by Katrinas, Marias, and Zetas in quieter years like 2021.

Coming up this week: The Great Gatsby and wabbit season.

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
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11 Responses to A Furious Sky

  1. mudpuddle says:

    i enjoy disaster books as well… this one looks like it would blow me away! (sorry…)

  2. Cyberkitten says:

    [groan] @ Mudpuddle

    This has been on my Wish List since I read a review on Sarah’s Blog. Thankfully we don’t get them here! At least not YET!!

    • What natural disasters IS Britain exposed to? Snowstorms, I suppose. I’ve never heard of earthquakes affecting Europe in general…looking past on its history, the main ‘disasters’ were fires, disease, and the odd politician. In the US, most of the country has some bit of nature aimed against it — earthquakes and fire in the west, hurricanes and tornadoes around the gulf, tornados in much of the central portion, Andrew Cuomo in New York,,,

      • Cyberkitten says:

        As to natural disasters – rather than the one’s our politicians usually cause – we have the odd nasty winter storm, pretty heavy snow (but not that often these days), being a reasonably small country any farm pest thing – like foot & mouth disease etc – tends to affect everywhere. We do have the occasional earthquake but on the small (Richter) scale often too small to notice if it wasn’t for the news reporting. About the worse thing we get is rain, sometimes LOTS of rain (a months worth in two hours isn’t unheard of these days) but looking on the bright side I doubt if we’ll have many droughts in the future.. Oh, then there’s coastal erosion… that’s ALWAYS happening somewhere!

    • You cannot escape a natural disaster in the US. North- blizzards; South/Southwest -Hurricanes and tornadoes; West-earthquakes. Everywhere: floods.

  3. When my son was in grade school he was fascinated by satellite photos of hurricanes. We made the photos screen savers on our computer. Growing up in Florida, I’ve sat through my share of hurricanes. I think I would find this history a good read.

  4. Cyberkitten says:

    Speaking of European earthquakes…. From the BBC today:

    Scotland has experienced its second earthquake in less than a week after the Highlands was hit by a tremor. The British Geological Survey (BGS) said a 2.2 magnitude earthquake was registered just outside Roybridge, near Spean Bridge, at 09:29 on Friday. The organisation said it had a depth of 7.5km (4.6 miles). The survey said: “A small number of reports have been received by members of the public in Roybridge indicating they felt this event.” Friday’s quake was the latest night-time tremor to hit the country. A 3.3 magnitude earthquake was reported by the BGS, just before 02:00 on Tuesday, with its epicentre at Achnamara, about 11 miles west of Lochgilphead in Argyll and Bute, 88 miles north-west of Glasgow.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the post. My name is Eric Jay Dolin, not Erin Jay Dolin. All the best, Eric

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