Hurricane Memories: BOB

The economy of nature, its checks and balances, its measurements of competing life-all this is its great marvel and has an ethnic of its own.  Live in nature, and you will soon see… that nature has its unexpected and unappreciated mercies.  Whatever attitude to human existence you fashion for yourself, know that it is valid only if it be in the shadow of an attitude to nature.
–Henry Beston, The Outermost House

Cape Cod_0044Monday August 19, 1991 a category three hurricane struck the quaint islands of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket.  Weekend news reports informed us of the possibility the Cape would be hit.  CapeCodders are no stranger to hurricanes and other severe weather and actually most natives find the storms enjoyable.  However, strong hurricanes rarely reach as far north as the Cape and when they do they are weak, causing little damage.

Cape Cod_0048This time it was different.  For the first time I made preparations to secure my home, little did I know many others felt it too and were spending their Sunday afternoon securing their homes and boats.  Less than 24-hours later we would all know how different this storm would be.  Very few people had seen such destruction and even fewer remember past storms such as Carol, Edna or the New England hurricane of ‘38.

Ana Perry. Dock and boat damage, Englewood BeachUnfortunately, many did not heed the warnings and paid the price for their indifference to what they believed was yet another false alarm. By 10:30 Monday morning winds picked up. We listened to the radio and the announcer stated, “due to sustained wind speeds of 70-mph officials have closed the Bourne and Sagamore bridges”.  Ferries and air traffic had already been halted.  Traffic at this time was backed up on route 6 from the Cape Cod Canal to the Orleans Rotary, a distance of about 50 miles.  By noon we were without power as was the rest of the Cape.  This would last for up to two weeks.  I would spend the next five hours protecting my home.

Cape Cod_0001The destruction I saw was incredible.  Storm surge flooded coastal homes not protected by seawalls and placed huge sailboats in yards, beaches and roads more than fifty yards from the bay.  Huge trees had been uprooted completely, collapsed building, bridges swept away, and homes washed out to sea.  And we were the lucky ones.  Falmouth and the Buzzards Bay area received the brunt of the storm, flooding most low coastal areas and completely destroying several communities.

Cape Cod_0017The cleanup took two months but before it was finished, before receiving promised federal aid the Cape was hit again this time by a nor’easter named the Perfect Storm which caused almost as much damage.  The Cape would be declared a federal disaster area for the second time this season.

Cape Cod_0045Hurricane Bob is currently ranked the 32nd costliest storm since 1900 with over two billion in costs, which included ten million to crops, 69 million to public facilities such as roads and bridges, and 900 million to insured property.  This does not account for the loss to the tourist industry. The Cape is highly dependent on the tourist industry which is very short; a mere three months. One weekend of lost revenue can devastate a small business.

Cape Cod_0047sepiaThere are many hidden, unquantifiable costs that affect the human-environment relationship, as the vulnerability of Cape Cod rests as much on the socio-psychological effects as well as economic loss.  The culture on Cape Cod is heavily influenced by history, ambiance and the beautiful geography which creates a special relationship between CapeCodders and their landscape. These cannot be quantified.


Geographic Quiz: Week 13

What is the difference between a bay and a gulf?


Lemon Bay, Florida

Gulf of Mexico

Cape Cod Bay

Gulf of Maine

Both are bodies of water partially surrounded by land. A bay is a smaller version of a gulf.

Famous bays: San Francisco Bay, Chesapeake Bay, Patmos Bay (Greece)

Famous gulfs: Gulf of Mexico, Gulf of Maine, Persian Gulf

Where in the World Game – Week 1

The Where in the World game began as an ice breaker in my geography classes. Each morning I’d put up a photo for students to guess where or what it was. I’d put a few of these questions on exams for bonus points so if they didn’t come to class they missed out on the bonus points. I enjoyed their involvement as they tried to guess, talked among themselves or got hints from me.

In this monthly post I’m continuing the spirit of the game with my online community. Each month I’ll post a photograph of someplace not too obvious but not too obscure either. Can you tell me “where in the world” this photo is? You can make a guess or ask for hints. I’ll give the answer in the next edition of the Where in the World Game.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Where in the world is this Sphinx?


The Luxor Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada



Geography Quiz #12

What is the largest prehistoric earthwork in North America?


Monk’s Mound is part of the Cahokia Mounds complex in Illinois and is the largest earthen mound in the world. The base of the mound is roughly the size of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. Archaeologists believe the on top of the mound was the home of the society’s royal leaders. Cahokia was occupied from about 900A.D. to 1300A.D.


**To get perspective on the size of Monk’s Mound, notice the car at the base of the mound.

Geography Quiz #11

What was the first national park in the world?

YS_canyon_lower falls7

Lower Yellowstone Falls

Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana was established March 1, 1872. The park gets its name for the yellow rock of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Yellowstone is known for its varied geologic and geographic features, wildlife and has the largest concentration of geothermal features.

Geography Quiz #10

How are hurricanes named?

Hurricane Bob, Lewis Bay, Cape Cod Mass
Hurricane Bob, Lewis Bay, Cape Cod Mass

When wind speeds reach 39 mph the storm is considered a tropical storm and it’s given its very own name. When wind speeds reach 74 mph that same named storm is then categorized as a hurricane. But how do those names get chosen and why? Naming tropical storms makes it easier for meteorologists, responders and individuals because there are often multiple tropical storms at the same time.

Naming storms became official in 1953 using women’s names then in 1978 the list was revised to included alternating men’s names. The World Meteorological Organization develops the alternating list alphabetically from A to W. When there are more storms than we have names for the Greek alphabet is used: alpha, beta, etc. There are separate lists for different oceanic regions.  Once a name is used it cannot be used again for six years except in the case of retired names. A name is retired when the storm creates so much death and destruction that to reuse the name would be insensitive to victims.

Sign warning Charley away, Key West Florida
Sign warning Charley away, Key West Florida


2014 list of hurricane names for the Atlantic Ocean


Bertha Cristobal
















Teddy Vicky



Hurricane Charley, Port Charlotte, Florida


These are some retired hurricane names from my history


Year Category


Donna 1960 5 I was just a baby but I remember stories of being evacuated and our home flooded.
Camille 1969 5 While we weren’t hit directly the effects of flooding were tremendous
Agnes 1972 1 So how could a cat 1 be so bad that it was retired? Agnes caused the worst flooding in the eastern US and is still considered the worst disaster in Pennsylvania. Deaths may have been low but the destruction was massive. I was in this one – several times. After it hit Georgia he thought it would be a good idea to drive over a thousand miles back to Mass. Every night we stopped due to severe flooding and left the next morning and met up with Agnes later in the day. What was he thinking?
Gloria 1985 4 I was living in Texas but knew family and friends back east that were affected.
Hugo 1989 5 I was living in Indiana but had friends in the Carolinas that were affected.
Bob 1991 3 While I was in several hurricanes Bob was the only one to hit my home directly. By the time it reached Cape Cod it was a cat 2 and the lack of rain is the only reason the destruction wasn’t more severe. This was my first storm of such destruction and would not be my last
Andrew 1992 5 Andrew was the most famous and destructive until Katrina
Mitch 1998 5 Mitch was the most costly hurricane in my history with death reaching over 10,000 in Central America alone
Charley 2004 4 This was my last hurricane and by far the worst I’ve seen. The destruction was so bad where we were visiting in Port Charlotte that I decided I was done with hurricane chasing. We were still in Port Charlotte when Frances was announced – we left. I was done with hurricanes. And where do I live now? Florida. There have been no hurricanes since I moved here but I’ve heard this year may be different.
Frances 2004 4  
Ivan 2004 5  
Jean 2004 3  
Katrina 2005 5 The mother of all US hurricanes to hit in my lifetime with economic cost of over 100 billion dollars


Geography Quiz #9

What are tropical cyclones called around the world?

Cape Cod_0047

Hurricane Bob, Lewis Bay in West Yarmouth (Cape Cod) Massachusetts

In the US, actually anywhere in the Atlantic Ocean as well as the eastern Pacific these storms are called hurricanes. But this isn’t the case around the world. In the western Pacific Ocean they are called cyclones and the Indian and southern Pacific they are called typhoons, not to be confused with monsoons, a different type of weather event.   Here in the US we begin our careful watch over the skies. June 1st begins our hurricane season.