Real-time Earth and Moon phase

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Fatal forecast -- eye on the storm.

It has been, and continues to be, reasonably quiet on the freaque waves news front this summer so far. So I was a little surprised to see these two headlines come through Google News at the same time: “Storm-battered fishermen fight for their lives” and “Eye on the storm.”

Actually it’s still nice and quiet out there, at least nothing is happening that has attracted media’s attention yet. It turns out both of the news items are reporting on a fabulous new book “FATAL FORECAST: An Incredible True Tale of Disaster and Survival at Sea” written by the New England author Michael J. Tougias.

Here's how the author's own web site introduced the story:

On a cold November day, two fishing vessels, the Fair Wind and the Sea fever, set out from Cape Cod to catch offshore lobsters at Georges Bank. Soon after the boats reached the fishing ground, they were hit with hurricane force winds and massive sixty-foot waves that battered the boats for hours. The captain and crews struggled heroically to keep their vessels afloat in the unrelenting storm. One monstrous wave of 90 to 100-feet soon capsized the Fair wind, trapping the crew inside. Meanwhile, on the Sea Fever, Captain Peter Brown (whose father owned the Andrea Gail of the Perfect Storm fame) did his best to ride out of the storm, but a giant wave blew out of one side of the pilothouse sending a crew member into the churning ocean.

It is a real life story, not a fiction, but it happened in November 22, 1980 over a decade before Sebastian Junger's Perfect storm. As reported in the article of the Daily News Tribune, the author first read about the case in a Coast Guard Marine Casualty Report which described a tale about how one man fought his life off the coast of Cape Cod, enduring 100-foot waves that crashed down upon his boat and four men from the boat perished in the storm. The author managed to tracked down the man now in California and learned all about the story. The author certainly deserves a lot of credit to bring to light this overlooked untold story of struggle and survival against a deadly storm. The book title alluded to the forecast. I did not read the book yet and I hope the author does not infer that it's all the fault of forecast. Because I don't think there is such thing as "fatal forecast" and the forecast is in no way can guarantee accuracy. Yes, I remember there was that lawsuit against the National Weather Service. My sympathy was with the families that lost love ones. But the law suit was frivolous, as was the initial judgment that was rightfully overturned. No one should just blindly listen to the forecast -- better remembering to glance out of the window from time to time to see what is really happening out there!

There are certainly a lot more of this kind of stories remain overlooked. Just because there is no news on the freaque wave front does not mean freaque waves are not happening. We just have to be thankful that no fishing vessel or cruise ship or any other sea going ventures encountering them. May the ever active freaque waves never ever come across your travel route -- as the slogan of AAA says: Bring them back alive!

No comments: