- North Carolina’s Hurricane History by Jay Barnes
Jay Barnes. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC, 2013. Fourth Edition, Updated with a Decade of New Storms from Isabel to Sandy. 344 pp. 167 illus., 4 figs., 51 maps, 2 tables, index. $35.00 cloth. (ISBN 978-1-4696-0652-1)
North Carolina’s Hurricane History is a comprehensive book depicting the history of North Carolina’s hurricanes with detailed descriptions, valuable photographs, and abundant thought-provoking destruction and survival stories. As the author states in the introduction, a thorough review of consecutive hurricanes not only teaches us valuable lessons, but also helps “broaden our understanding of our persistent vulnerability to hurricanes” (p. 3).
The book is organized into nine parts that can be read sequentially or separately. In the first chapter, the reader is introduced to hurricanes, including the meteorological causes, category classification standards, and the naming rules. The meat of the book is the chapters that deal with the detailed histories of specific hurricanes (chapter 2–7). Chapter 8 reviews the survival histories of nonhumans, which constitute a special hurricane phenomenon. The last chapter compares the similarities and variations among past hurricanes and discusses necessary preparations for the next big storm.
As a history of a natural phenomenon, this book keeps to the point and describes various aspects of past hurricanes from the early colonial period to the new millennium. As technologies advance, more warning systems and recording devices are available so that people have more chances to prepare for evacuations. Further, valuable records on the characteristics of hurricanes are being kept for future study. For each archived hurricane, a description of the impacted areas, the category, date and time, the wind power across diverse impacted areas, and maps showing hurricane paths are provided. For those hurricanes influencing a broader area and with more severe destruction, such as Floyd and Isabel, more comprehensive descriptions of the flooded land, downed trees, damaged homes and cars, and enormous economic loss are offered.
Abundant valuable photographs illustrating the devastated places struck by hurricanes remind people of the awesome destructive power of nature. The stories from local communities affected [End Page 377] by hurricanes can be horrifying. The last chapter compares the most influential hurricanes, Fran, Floyd, Isabel, Irene, and Sandy, regarding wind speed or orientation, size, strength, category, and degree of destruction. The conclusion, however, is that no two hurricanes are exactly the same. Taking all the criteria into account, the challenges for forecasters, local officers, and local residents all differ from one hurricane to another. For instance, Floyd was weakened when it edged northward to only a category of 2 but turned out to be the greatest disaster in North Carolina’s history; and Sandy passed North Carolina as a category 1 but brought epic disaster to populated New York City and the surrounding areas. From the lessons of past hurricanes, we are told that there is so much uncertainty and variability associated with hurricane occurrence.
North Carolina’s Hurricane History is a great reference book that offers a variety of valuable resources related to hurricanes, which makes it a worthwhile book for researchers and college students. The abundant stories and photographs enrich the content of the book and make it an interesting book for North Carolina residents. As a documentation of hurricanes, there is no distinct shortcoming because it is well organized and written, the facts are accurate, and records are comprehensive.