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PSU professor’s book about Hurricane of 1938 wins prestigious history award

PLYMOUTH — An international atmospheric research group has recognized Plymouth State University Meteorology Professor Lourdes Avilés with their 2013 Choice History Award for her book about the Great Hurricane of 1938, Taken by Storm, 1938: A Social and Meteorological History of the Great New England Hurricane. The Atmospheric Science Librarians International (ASLI) presented their award to Avilés at the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Meeting February 5 in Atlanta, Georgia.

"I am honored and incredibly excited to receive this recognition," said Avilés. "I am lucky to work at such a supportive University that not only allows me the freedom to pursue my scholarly passions but also celebrates them. Receiving an international award from the Atmospheric Science Librarians association means a great deal to me."

In writing the book, Avilés described the meteorological conditions that led to the storm, New England's worst natural catastrophe, as well as comparing the forecasting and warning methods used in 1938 to modern day technology such as weather observation networks based on satellites, sophisticated hurricane forecasting computer models and mass media communication warning about potentially severe weather.

The book focuses on what actually occurred seventy-five years ago as the powerful storm shot north toward a densely populated area that was unprepared. As a result of what became known as the Great New England Hurricane, weather forecasting, meteorology, and storm preparation, already in transition, were radically transformed.

"Students were fortunate to work with Professor Aviles as she produced this landmark study of a storm that people across New England still discuss," said PSU President Sara Jayne Steen. "The book offers an insightful analysis of the science and also of the human side of what occurred, as resilient New Englanders endured disaster and met challenges with courage."

Taken by Storm, 1938: A Social and Meteorological History of the Great New England Hurricane is published by the American Meteorological Society and is available at bookstores and online. Avilés is a member of the AMS History Committee on the History of Atmospheric Science and the AMS Board on Higher Education.

 
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