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PSU Professor Authors Book on 1938 Hurricane

PLYMOUTH — On the morning of September 21, 1938, people throughout the northeastern United States awoke to a dim red sky and high humidity. Weather reports gave no indication of severe weather; there was no such thing as weather satellites, computer modeling or any other modern day forecasting technology. From the bustling streets of Portland, Maine to the bucolic potato fields of Long Island, New York, people began their day with no indication that the most severe weather event in their lifetimes was about too unfold, leaving nearly 700 dead and the equivalent of more than $4.5 billion in damage that would impact the region for decades.

The '38 Hurricane is considered the most powerful and deadliest hurricane in recent New England history, and Plymouth State University Associate Meteorology Professor Dr. Lourdes Avilès has authored a book, Taken by Storm, 1938: A Social and Meteorological History of the Great New England Hurricane, that provides a comprehensive picture of a devastating weather event that impacted millions of lives.

"I'm a teacher, and I am excited to share both the knowledge and the understanding of how this happened and what we've learned," Avilès said.

American Meteorological Society Executive Director Keith Seitter calls the book a 'must-read' for those interested in severe weather and its historical consequences.

"There are important scientific and societal lessons to be learned from The Great New England Hurricane and Lourdes Avilès has captured them in this one-of-a kind reference work about the worst natural disaster ever to strike New England," Seitter said. "What strikes me about Taken By Storm 1938 is how far our community has come in the monitoring and prediction process in the past 75 years; one could never imagine a similar scenario today in terms of the total lack of warning, but we know from Sandy and Hurricane Katrina that even with good warnings these events can be disasters."

Avilès contends the biggest difference between today's forecasting and 1938 is the observation network; knowing where a potentially dangerous storm is and what it is likely to do.

"Our observation capabilities were very different then; computers didn't exist, there were no satellites, most of our information about threatening hurricanes came from people on ships," Avilès said. "So, depending on how many ships at sea happened to find themselves in the path of a hurricane, there could be very little information to communicate to the public. Today, we have a lot of observations, upper air weather observations that tell which way currents are blowing... we also have very sophisticated hurricane forecasting computer models, so not only do you have the current position and current conditions, you also have a very good idea of which way it's going."

Avilès added that the Hurricane of 1938 also prompted changes in warning the public about potentially severe weather.

"Back then, they didn't put out a warning until the hurricane was already starting. Even if they knew a hurricane was coming, they would hold off the warnings until they were absolutely certain and it was already happening. There were no evacuations plans, emergency planning was not well-developed either, so basically people did what they could when the storms came, so it was very different," Avilès said.

"For the first time, a disaster relief effort was overseen by the federal government," she added. "Even today, emergency planning in New England refers to this storm as the 'worst case scenario' and uses it as a test for readiness."

As a cautionary note, Avilès believes another hurricane of 1938-like intensity will someday strike New England.

"A storm like this will happen again, and the damage it causes will probably happen again, but something that will not happen again is having a storm like this come unannounced so the great loss of life is highly unlikely."

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.

In addition to her faculty responsibilities at Plymouth State University, Avilès is a member of the AMS History Committee on the History of Atmospheric Science and the AMS Board on Higher Education.


Last Updated on Thursday, 19 September 2013 09:16

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Jonas Woods concert Saturday at Moultonborough Methodist

MOULTONBOROUGH —  Wake The Lake is a fundraiser concert series presented by the Moultonborough United Methodist Church.
Each month the church features a new artist that donates their time and talents to help the church in the goal of offsetting the financial burden of completing the modernization of the church's Audio/Visual systems. The hope of the church is not just to raise the money but also to reach out to the community.
On Saturday, September 21 featured artist will be Jonas Woods from 6:30- 8 p.m.

Jonas Woods is a singer/songwriter based out of Southern New England. He has shared the stage with artists such as PETRA, FFH, Mercy Me, ThirdDay, Casting Crowns, Jeremy Camp, and more. His new CD project, produced by Paul Colman of the Newsboys, is about to be released. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 September 2013 08:46

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Boys & Girls Club plans Day for Kids

LACONIA — The Boys & Girls Club of the Lakes Region will be participating in the Day for Kids, a celebration held at Boys & Girls Clubs across the country on Saturday, September 21.

In Laconia, the Boys & Girls Club, located at 876 North Main Street, welcomes the public to this free event, designed to celebrate and honor children. The club will be joined this year by Broadway North Dance Studio, Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, Southern Accent Design, Stonybrook Farm, The Boy Scouts of America, and Hands Across the Table chef Lou Gaynor. Additional sponsors include Shaw's, Hannaford, E.M. Heath Supermarket and Dunkin' Donuts.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 September 2013 10:20

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Registration open for Poetry Out Loud program

CONCORD — Registration is open for New Hampshire high schools wishing to participate in the 2013-2014 New Hampshire Poetry Out Loud program. The deadline to register is November 1, 2013 and is limited to 40 high schools. Home-schooled students are also welcome to join through their local school or by creating a regional group.

Poetry Out Loud is a nationwide contest sponsored by the National Endowment of the Arts in partnership with the Poetry Foundation. The program encourages youth to learn about the beauty and power of language through memorization and performance of great poems. Participation in the program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage.

Students in the Poetry Out Loud program are invited to select several poems to memorize and recite from an anthology, compiled by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, that represents the breadth of great poetry. Contestants are judged on several criteria, including physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, level of complexity, evidence of understanding and overall performance.

Poetry Out Loud curriculum materials include the online poetry anthology, a comprehensive teacher's guide, a DVD of national finals performances, lesson plans, and promotional and media guides. Aspects of the program align with the new Common Core educational standards and therefore allow educators to tie into broad educational objectives.

In New Hampshire, the competitions begin at the high school level. Champions represent their high school at regional competitions; those winners participate in the state championship, which will be held in March 2014. The program provides support for the champions from each state travel to Washington, D.C., to compete in the National Finals, where a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends is awarded.

Funds for Poetry Out Loud are provided by the National Endowment for the Arts to state arts agencies around the country. The N.H. State Council on the Arts manages New Hampshire's program in partnership with the New Hampshire Writers' Project. Other partners include the Poetry Society of New Hampshire, the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire and the Frost Place.

For more information or to register, go to: www.nh.gov/nharts and click on the "Poetry Out Loud" button on the right. If you have additional questions, contact Catherine O'Brian at (603) 271-0795, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Jennifer Andrews, Poetry Out Loud executive assistant, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 September 2013 10:17

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