Friday, August 11, 2017


Image result for 1900 galveston hurricane photos

By Juan Montoya,
Various Sources

Previous to Hurricane Franklin coming ashore of the Mexican coast off Veracruz, meteorologists with the Weather Channel and local weather forecasters issued predictions of its landfall using different models.

There were Canadian models, European models, USGFS models, etc., that predicted, with small deviations, where the storm was headed.

But back in 1900, before such models were available, the U.S. government's attitude towards such storms was far more arrogant than it is today.
The U.S. Weather Service did not even like to use the words "hurricane" or "tornado," as Erik Larson details in his book about the disaster, "Isaac's Storm."

"Issac" refers to Issac Cline, the U.S. Weather Service forecaster in Galveston.

Researchers say that officials then did not want to panic anyone, a problem that still exists today in other forms – even though we now name our storms well in advance and spend days warning people to prepare for the worst.

U. S. forecasters were overly confident in their primitive, even though back then there was no satellite or doppler technology. And a deep-seated xenophobic distrust of predictions by Cuban meteorologists blinded them to the fact that they had far more experience assessing the strength and predicting the paths of hurricanes than U.S.-based personnel had.

In fact, they were disdainfully distrustful of Cuban forecasters. Before the 1900 storm, U.S. forecasters had a policy of ignoring or downplaying warnings from Cuba, even though the island generally experiences storms well before the U.S.

Various historians have asserted that in 1900, the Weather Bureau was in its early days, and only recently separated from the Army's Signal Corps. The bureau was rife with internal competition and corruption. It was also engaged in an antagonistic rivalry with the Cuban weather forecasters, who had considerably superior knowledge of Atlantic hurricane patterns. Initially, the Americans were confident that the storm, which had built in the south Atlantic, would move northeast and back out to sea.

The Weather Bureau in Washington projected the storm to travel up the east coast of Florida and then north; the Cubans knew it was going west.

One author states that "Striving to monopolize forecasting, the bureau took its cues from its chief, Willis L. Moore, whose insecurity matched his pomposity. Moore wanted his staff to look confident, soothing and precise; he forbade use of alarming words like 'hurricane' unless authorized from Washington. 

His pettiness trumped his judgment when, at the peak of the 1900 hurricane season, he halted all telegraphed weather communications from Cuba. He would not admit that men he regarded as excitable Latins might have an edge on his Weather Bureau, even though Havana's Belen Observatory had been systematically studying hurricanes for 30 years."

Related imageOne of those recently silenced Cuban meteorologists correctly predicted the hurricane's track to San Antonio and through central Texas, even as Cline and Moore forecast it would move up the Atlantic coast. Paradoxically, few Americans held the weather service accountable for its bureaucratic manslaughter.

The results of the xenophobia of the day that prevented the Cubans' warning of the dangerous Category 4 hurricane to go out to the residents in Galveston? It is estimated that between 8,000 to 10,000 people died in the United States – the worst in U.S. history – and that included 93 children whose bodies were found near St. Mary's Orphanage where they lived.


Anonymous said...

The tendency these days is to point out the risks of storms and highlight the danger to get people to protect themselves. So today the term "hurricane" is used, even if it piddles out. The media warns is to hunker down and then they put themselves in the middle of the storm on TV. If they can be out there in the storm, then why can't we? If we see them out in the storm reporting, then why should we "hunker down"????????????????

Diego Lee Rot said...

Yeah man I always keep a ear pointed towards Cuba

Anonymous said...

"Various sources" lol

Anonymous said...

It was STUPID more than Xenophobic. There was little technology to detect storms off our borders in that time. Even less ability to warn citizens until it was too late. We have all these highly paid meteorologists these days and their predictions for the most part are seldom accurate.