Super Storm: Nine Days Inside Hurricane Sandy
by Kathryn Miles
Dutton, New York, NY
368 pages, hardcover
Super Storm is the first book that clearly recounts the story behind the storm that battered the Caribbean and then the U.S. East Coast two years ago. Organizing an incredible amount of information, Kathryn Miles takes us into the inner sanctums of the National Hurricane Center and its sometime-partner and competitor the National Weather Service. She sketches the complicated, ossified bureaucracy of these two organizations, a bureaucracy that prevented clear communications about the danger of Sandy. Although there was much communication about the storm, the public didn’t understand that even though it wasn’t a hurricane and was just an “extra-tropical storm” that Sandy was potentially lethal. It was a communication failure predicated on outmoded protocol.
According to Super Storm, the NHC and the NWS battled over who had the authority to give out information. As much as we rely on these organizations to provide us with weather data, they are bound by tradition and protocol that, at least in this case, prevented the public from understanding the seriousness of the storm until it was too late. Miles also takes us aboard cruise lines ships, the doomed tall ship HMS Bounty, and the Coast Guard rescue crews that rescued all but two of Bounty’s crew and did so at great risk to their lives. She also takes us into the homes of innocent victims who thought they would be able to ride out the storm.
This is a must-read for mariners and landsmen alike. Everyone who needs to pay attention to the weather will learn something from this book.