What I'm Reading Today

I called my mom yesterday on the phone before I went to have lunch with my dad. Mom and I talked about what was going on in the news, and I mentioned Super Typhoon Ioke hitting Wake Island with 155-mile per hour winds, and waves/storm surge that were predicted to be a cumulative 50 feet high, washing over an island whose highest elevation is only 18 feet.

Mom then recommended a book to me about the Galveston hurricane of 1900, Isaac's Storm. She seemed a bit surprised that I hadn't read it, although I had read some articles on the web about that hurricane a few years back. I told her I'd check the library on the way to lunch to see if they had a copy.

Well, they had two, one in hardback and one in paperback. I checked out the hardback, and I'm about halfway through it. It has a lot of interesting information about the physics of hurricanes, as well as the human drama of what happens when a catastrophic hurricane strikes a vulnerable city.

I was especially fascinated by the fact that the story's protagonist, Isaac Cline, who ran the Weather Bureau office in Galveston, had previously been stationed in west Texas and had gone through Abilene (my hometown) in 1885. The description of the town at that time, on page 59, was quite evocative. I also lived for a while in La Marque, Texas, which is not far at all from Galveston. Indeed, we used to go to the beach at Galveston when I was a little boy and walk along the huge seawall which now protects the city from disastrous storm surges like the one that killed so many people in 1900.

I haven't finished the book yet, but I'd recommend it for anyone who lives in a hurricane-prone area, and even for those who don't live along the coast but who still like a good non-fiction yarn.