Hurricanes of the Gulf of Mexico

LSU Press
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"The storm has entered the Gulf." For those who live or travel near the Gulf of Mexico, this ominous announcement commands attention, especially given the frequency and force of hurricane strikes in recent years. Since 2004, the shores around the Gulf of Mexico have been in the crosshairs for an increasing number of hurricanes and tropical storms, including Charley and Wilma in southwestern Florida and Ivan, Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Gustav, and Ike along the northern Gulf coast from Panama City to near Galveston. In this definitive guide, climatologists Barry D. Keim and Robert A. Muller examine the big picture of Gulf hurricanes -- from the 1800s to the present and from Key West, Florida, to Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula -- providing an extraordinary compilation and interpretation of the entire region's hurricane and tropical storm history.
Drawing from their own research and from National Hurricane Center records, Keim and Muller examine numerous individual Gulf storms, considering each hurricane's origin, oceanic and atmospheric influences, seasonality, track, intensity, size, point of landfall, storm surge, and impact on life, property, and the environment. They describe the unique features of the Gulf that influence the development of hurricanes, such as the loop current and its eddies, and identify areas of the coastline that are more or less vulnerable because of physical environment, socioeconomic environment, or both. They point out that the increase in population along the Gulf Coast over the past century has led to a rise in hurricane damage as once sparse coastlines are now lined with residents, commerce, and industry. In addition, they assess predicted hurricane activity for coming years in light of competing climate theories as well as cyclical patterns over the past century.
Keim and Muller begin their book by scrutinizing the Gulf's deadliest storm, the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, whose victims received little to no warning of its approach. They then retrace 2005's Hurricane Katrina, the most costly storm, using NHC advisories and reports. Their comparison of these two catastrophic events shows that despite 105 years of tremendous technological advances, hurricanes remain ultimately rather unpredictable and human warning, readiness, and response measures continue to be imperfect. Keim and Muller also detail other memorable Gulf storms -- the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, Audrey, Betsy, Camille, Gilbert, Andrew, Wilma, and more -- and give the hurricane strike records from 1901 to 2005 at thirty locations around the Gulf. They extend the New Orleans hurricane strike record back to the middle of the nineteenth century, providing key insight into comparisons of storm activities during the two centuries.
An epilogue summarizes the destructive 2008 hurricane season, including storms Dolly, Gustav, and Ike. Plentiful maps, charts, tables, graphs, and photos, along with anecdotal observations and an informative text, make Hurricanes of the Gulf of Mexico a captivating and useful volume for Gulf residents, storm trackers, or anyone fascinated by the weather.
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About the author

A native of Chalmette, Louisiana, Barry D. Keim remembers the lasting impression Hurricane Camille made on him as a boy in 1969. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed his childhood home. He is Louisiana State Climatologist, a professor of geography at Louisiana State University, and coauthor of New England Weather, New England Climate and Rainfall Frequency/Magnitude Atlas for the South-Central United States. He lives in Baton Rouge.

A native of northern New Jersey, Robert A. Muller experienced the Great New England Hurricane of 1938. He is a professor emeritus of geography at Louisiana State University, former Louisiana State Climatologist, past director of the NOAA Southern Regional Climate Center at LSU, and the coauthor of Essentials of Physical Geography Today and Physical Geography Today: A Portrait of a Planet. He lives in Baton Rouge.

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Additional Information

Publisher
LSU Press
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Published on
Aug 31, 2009
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Pages
240
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ISBN
9780807136676
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Language
English
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Genres
Nature / Natural Disasters
Nature / Weather
Science / Earth Sciences / Meteorology & Climatology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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The true story behind the events that inspired the major motion picture Only the Brave.

A "unique and bracing" (Booklist) first-person account by the sole survivor of Arizona's disastrous 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire, which took the lives of 19 "hotshots"--firefighters trained specifically to battle wildfires.

Brendan McDonough was on the verge of becoming a hopeless, inveterate heroin addict when he, for the sake of his young daughter, decided to turn his life around. He enlisted in the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a team of elite firefighters based in Prescott, Arizona. Their leader, Eric Marsh, was in a desperate crunch after four hotshots left the unit, and perhaps seeing a glimmer of promise in the skinny would-be recruit, he took a chance on the unlikely McDonough, and the chance paid off. Despite the crew's skepticism, and thanks in large part to Marsh's firm but loving encouragement, McDonough unlocked a latent drive and dedication, going on to successfully battle a number of blazes and eventually win the confidence of the men he came to call his brothers.

Then, on June 30, 2013, while McDonough--"Donut" as he'd been dubbed by his team--served as lookout, they confronted a freak, 3,000-degree inferno in nearby Yarnell, Arizona. The relentless firestorm ultimately trapped his hotshot brothers, tragically killing all 19 of them within minutes. Nationwide, it was the greatest loss of firefighter lives since the 9/11 attacks.

Granite Mountain is a gripping memoir that traces McDonough's story of finding his way out of the dead end of drugs, finding his purpose among the Granite Mountain Hotshots, and the minute-by-minute account of the fateful day he lost the very men who had saved him. A harrowing and redemptive tale of resilience in the face of tragedy, Granite Mountain is also a powerful reminder of the heroism of the people who put themselves in harm's way to protect us every day.
At the dawn of the twentieth century, a great confidence suffused America. Isaac Cline was one of the era's new men, a scientist who believed he knew all there was to know about the motion of clouds and the behavior of storms. The idea that a hurricane could damage the city of Galveston, Texas, where he was based, was to him preposterous, "an absurd delusion." It was 1900, a year when America felt bigger and stronger than ever before. Nothing in nature could hobble the gleaming city of Galveston, then a magical place that seemed destined to become the New York of the Gulf.

That August, a strange, prolonged heat wave gripped the nation and killed scores of people in New York and Chicago. Odd things seemed to happen everywhere: A plague of crickets engulfed Waco. The Bering Glacier began to shrink. Rain fell on Galveston with greater intensity than anyone could remember. Far away, in Africa, immense thunderstorms blossomed over the city of Dakar, and great currents of wind converged. A wave of atmospheric turbulence slipped from the coast of western Africa. Most such waves faded quickly. This one did not.

In Cuba, America's overconfidence was made all too obvious by the Weather Bureau's obsession with controlling hurricane forecasts, even though Cuba's indigenous weathermen had pioneered hurricane science. As the bureau's forecasters assured the nation that all was calm in the Caribbean, Cuba's own weathermen fretted about ominous signs in the sky. A curious stillness gripped Antigua. Only a few unlucky sea captains discovered that the storm had achieved an intensity no man alive had ever experienced.

In Galveston, reassured by Cline's belief that no hurricane could seriously damage the city, there was celebration. Children played in the rising water. Hundreds of people gathered at the beach to marvel at the fantastically tall waves and gorgeous pink sky, until the surf began ripping the city's beloved beachfront apart. Within the next few hours Galveston would endure a hurricane that to this day remains the nation's deadliest natural disaster. In Galveston alone at least 6,000 people, possibly as many as 10,000, would lose their lives, a number far greater than the combined death toll of the Johnstown Flood and 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.

And Isaac Cline would experience his own unbearable loss.

Meticulously researched and vividly written, Isaac's Storm is based on Cline's own letters, telegrams, and reports, the testimony of scores of survivors, and our latest understanding of the hows and whys of great storms. Ultimately, however, it is the story of what can happen when human arrogance meets nature's last great uncontrollable force. As such, Isaac's Storm carries a warning for our time.


From the Hardcover edition.
For some time now, there has been a great deal of concerned reflection on the ways in which the tropical lowlands of the Americas have been perceived and exploited. This book addresses this concern. It is also something of an appreciation of tropical lowlands, as they emerge along one particular road, gathered from the accounts of early nineteenth-century observers.

Aerial reconnaissance has shown that many wetlands in the lowlands which these travellers crossed are patterned with the remains of prehispanic platforms and canals, an old and effective system for the cultivation of wetlands. These show particularly clearly in the pastures of modern ranches -- a very different land use, and yet perhaps governed by similar constraints. The pastures are dotted with palms which eloquently indicate repeated burning and long use and scored by drainage ditches cut according to contemporary practice, thus giving evidence of both ancient and modern use. The travellers' accounts throw light on this juxtaposition.

Early nineteenth-century visitors to Mexico usually entered the country at Veracruz and proceeded inland along the Jalapa road. Their impressions of the surrounding landscape have long been relied upon for a contemporary interpretation of this region. They produced a rich literature which reveals a great deal about what the European and North American travellers thought about the tropics.

The reader is taken along the Veracruz-Jalapa road up to the summit of the pass and on to the central tableland and allowed to see the coastal landscape take shape from the commentary, step by step -- detailed and coloured by predisposition, the 'objective' landscape often aggrandized and misperceived. The accounts are not benign; they are tinged with an evaluation of tropical lowlands that unfortunately persisted and proved prejudicial to actual development here and elsewhere.

In this book, Alfred Siemens brings together a wide array of commentary to coalesce as though it were a piece of landscape theatre, always with the recognition that the fascinating and at times entertaining observations carry venom.

A land where some streams ran with gold. A landscape nearly empty of inhabitants in the wake of Apache raids from the north. And a former desert transformed by irrigation into vast fields of wheat and cotton. This was and is the state of Sonora in northwest Mexico.

In this cultural historical geography, Robert C. West explores the dual geographic "personality" of this part of Mexico's northern frontier. Utilizing the idea of "old" and "new" landscapes, he describes two Sonoras—to the east, a semiarid to subhumid mountainous region that reached its peak of development in the colonial era and still lives largely in its colonial past; and, to the west, a desert region that in the twentieth century has become a major agricultural producer and the modern center of economic and cultural activity.

After a description of the physical and biotic aspects of Sonora, West describes the aboriginal farming cultures that inhabited eastern Sonora before the Spanish conquest. Following the conquest, he traces the spread of Jesuit missions and Spanish mining and ranching communities into this land where gold, silver, and copper ores were easily extracted by surface mining. He charts the decline of eastern Sonora with the coming of Apache and Seri raids during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. And he shows how western Sonora has become one of Mexico's most powerful political and economic entities in the twentieth century.

For geographers, historians, anthropologists, and economists, as well as travelers to Sonora and its coastal resorts, this lively and interesting book will be important reading.

A study of how encounters between forestry bureaucrats and indigenous forest managers in Mexico produced official knowledge about forests and the state.

Greater knowledge and transparency are often promoted as the keys to solving a wide array of governance problems. In Instituting Nature, Andrew Mathews describes Mexico's efforts over the past hundred years to manage its forests through forestry science and biodiversity conservation. He shows that transparent knowledge was produced not by official declarations or scientists' expertise but by encounters between the relatively weak forestry bureaucracy and the indigenous people who manage and own the pine forests of Mexico. Mathews charts the performances, collusions, complicities, and evasions that characterize the forestry bureaucracy. He shows that the authority of forestry officials is undermined by the tension between local realities and national policy; officials must juggle sweeping knowledge claims and mundane concealments, ambitious regulations and routine rule breaking. Moving from government offices in Mexico City to forests in the state of Oaxaca, Mathews describes how the science of forestry and bureaucratic practices came to Oaxaca in the 1930s and how local environmental and political contexts set the stage for local resistance. He tells how the indigenous Zapotec people learned the theory and practice of industrial forestry as employees and then put these skills to use when they become the owners and managers of the area's pine forests—eventually incorporating forestry into their successful claims for autonomy from the state. Despite the apparently small scale and local contexts of this balancing act between the power of forestry regulations and the resistance of indigenous communities, Mathews shows that it has large implications—for how we understand the modern state, scientific knowledge, and power and for the global carbon markets for which Mexican forests might become valuable.

From the mountainous area bordering Arizona and New Mexico, the western range of the Sierra Madres reaches south into Mexico to the state of Jalisco. The eastern range stretches from the Texas border down to Morelia and the Valley of Mexico. Ben Tinker spent years exploring this rugged wilderness and the vast deserts of Sonora and Baja California. Mexican Wilderness and Wildlife condenses a lifetime of outdoor lore and learning.

Tinker provides detailed life sketches of Mexico's Desert Bighorn Sheep, Pronghorn Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Peccary, Grizzly and Black Bears, Wild Turkey, Jaguar, Mountain Lion, Timber Wolf, Coyote, and Bobcat. Each is illustrated by wildlife artist Doris Tischler, and Tinker describes their habitats, habits, reproduction, and peculiarities. Information is supplied on the physical measurements of several species of major wildlife. Tinker's observations are laced with anecdotes about his experiences in Mexico's remote backcountry—encounters with bandits, survival in the desert mountains, and the chance discovery of archaeological ruins.

The book describes the terrain and flora of the four life zones inhabited by major game and predatory animals. The section on desert water is a fascinating account of how animals thrive among cacti, thorn trees, and creosote bush remote from streams and waterholes. There is also a brief discussion of conservation efforts in Mexico, chapters on trout fishing in the Sierra Madre Occidental and Baja California, and a guide to big game habitats. This volume will be valuable to hunters, conservationists, naturalists, and others interested in the wilderness and wildlife of Mexico.

Ben Tinker collected much of the material for this book during the years he roamed northern Mexico as Federal Game Guardian. Though an American, Tinker had long been familiar with Mexican wildlife through his Sonoran ranching operation and was known for his interest in conservation when he was appointed by Alvaro Obregón in 1922.

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