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Superstorm: Nine Days Inside Hurricane Sandy    by Kathryn Miles order for
by Kathryn Miles
Order:  USA  Can
Dutton, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

'There was no precedent, no authoritative model or soothing data to help make sense of what was happening. The world had simply never witnessed a storm like this one,' writes Kathryn Miles in describing the events leading up to Superstorm Sandy's arrival.

In Superstorm: Nine Days Inside Hurricane Sandy, Miles offers an engrossing account of how a tropical storm morphed into a monstrous hybrid that broke all the rules in 2012 and, as Hurricane Sandy, damaged or destroyed a million homes, left nine million households without power, from South Carolina to Maine, and left 147 people dead, from the Caribbean to Canada, in its aftermath.

Rather than focus on just the widespread destruction Sandy caused, Miles turns her attention to the days during which the storm was tracked and analyzes how various localities prepared for the projected landfall of the hurricane.

As the drama unfolds, the reader will follow hurricane hunters on flights into the eye of the storm, see how vessels at sea decided to deal with the storm's onslaught and how various weather forecasting groups handled this dire situation.

The key cast of characters include staff members of the National Hurricane Center; the crew of a tall-ship who sadly elected to not seek shelter but try to skirt the storm; the flight crew of a Coast Guard rescue helicopter; C-130 Hurricane Hunters who repeatedly checked Sandy's northward progress; and elected officials in New Jersey and New York who either correctly or incorrectly alerted their citizens to the imminent danger of the approaching hurricane.

There were plenty of mistakes made in the days leading up to Sandy's arrival with the accompanying storm surge that devastated coastal communities and New York City. As Miles explains, 'Sandy was the worst-case scenario that was never supposed to happen. New York may have fared better than Haiti, but the storm showed just how vulnerable we all are. Each of us tries to manage risk, to plan for the future, to understand storms. We consult our latest computer models and our most trusted time-tested practices. But sometimes, that's just not enough. Sometimes, nature breaks all the rules. And it always plays to win.'

The lesson here is quite obvious. Even with all our sophisticated science and warning systems we are not as prepared as we think and no matter what it is - an earthquake, volcanic eruption or super storm - we are not really the masters of all we survey!

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