To watch a popular Hollywood natural disaster movie and review and summarize the scientific merit of it in a report, for my report I chose The Perfect Storm. A movie that is based on the actual storm in late October 1991 later called “The Perfect Storm” (Viets 2000). Also to comment on how realistic the movies’ storyline, effects and scientific merit when compared to the real life disaster which it is trying to recreate. Introduction
In late October in 1991 a nor’easter enveloped a fully formed hurricane known as Hurricane Grace causing huge waves, gale force winds and heavy rain to fall. This storm wreaked havoc along the Eastern coast of the United States and Parts of Canada (Drag 2000). Plot Summary
The movie is based upon a book, which is based on a true story about a ragtag group of fishermen on the ship “Andrea Gail”, who on their previous fishing expeditions have come more than a few pounds short of their bosses expectations. This when the Captain of the “Andrea Gail” Frank W. “Billy” Tyne Jr. decides that he will turn his fortunes around this next trip to sea no matter what.
Shortly after they port after their last extended trip to sea they set sail again trying vainly to find that big score that has eluded them for so long. With no luck at their usual fishing grounds they decide to sail to the Flemish Cap. Here they are rewarded for their gamble with two discoveries, a giant score of fish and a broken icemaker. This means their newly acquired score of fish will go bad if not brought to port as soon as possible. While this is happening, there is a developing storm over on the East coast, and already a threat of a developed hurricane, Hurricane Grace, which looked to be moving in their direction. This is when they are faced with a decision to either wait the storm out, or risk the sail though it and get their fish to port before it rots. Ultimately the crew chooses to try to sail through the storm not knowing how extreme it was going to be in pursuit of a big paycheck, ending in the ships and crews demise. Why did this event occur?
On October 28 1991, a cold front which had developed and moved off the Northeastern coast of the united states met with an extratropical low which was located a few hundred miles of East off the coast of Nova Scotia Canada. While all of this was happening overtop of Eastern Canada there was extremely strong upper air support for, causing the extratropical low to rapidly deepen and become the main weather feature off the Western Atlantic coastline. This became the nor’easter which was to soon envelop the already fully developed Hurricane Grace (Oblack n.d.).
Hurricane Grace had already developed due to a prior subtropical storm and had begun to move East due to a strong Western flow created from the same extratropical low which was becoming the nor’easter over on the East coast of the United States and Canada (Mcleod 2009).
Once Hurricane Grace moved far enough East and collided with the nor’easter, it was absorbed and became what is now known as “The Halloween Nor’easter” or “The Perfect Storm” and lasted for nearly three days. These kinds of meteorological circumstances that led to this “Perfect Storm” only statistically come around every 50-100 years according to meteorologist Bob Case (Oblack n.d.).
Oddly enough, in the very middle of this three pronged storm, a second hurricane actually formed at the very heart of the nor’easter making the storm rage further out of control at its peak. This hurricane was never named for the confusion the current storm was already causing as it had absorbed a hurricane, then out of its remains created a new one (McLeod 2009). Global Significance
The film portrayed the storm in the same area where the actual storm hit. The movie was actually filmed in Gloucester Massachusetts, where the original story originated from (Tucker 2000).
The Atlantic coastal area is known for hurricanes, and has seasons where these hurricanes usually form due to the weather conditions brought on by these seasons (McGuinness 2005).
The most damage caused by the storm was along the coast of the United States, near Massachusetts and New Jersey. The total damage to coastal towns and surrounding area was about 200 million dollars (McLeod 2009). Several Areas along the coast were deemed disaster areas by then President George Bush. Film Errors
In the movie, we are shown events on the boat that happened after the storm ripped of its antenna; this of course was the ships only contact to anyone else. In fact we are shown one of the crew members try in vain to reattach the antenna back to the ship while the storm raged on. Other events that occurred in the movie after the antenna was lost like the decision to turn the boat around in the middle of the storm and try to sail back out the way they came in, or the rogue wave that capsized the boat sinking the ship for good are completely fictional. There are no true records of any of these events happening as the antenna was lost during the storm, there were no survivors and the ship was never found. Therefore, these events are not fact based and purely in the movie for the purpose of Hollywood flair (Mcgahee 2008). Could this disaster of been avoided?
The nor’easter that absorbed Hurricane Grace that ultimately sunk the ship of Andrea Gail was something that was brought on purely fate and weather conditions that could not of been avoided. But the actual sinking of the Andrea Gail was something that could have easily been avoided. The crew members decided to put themselves in danger by attempting to sail through the storm. They may of not of been fully aware of how dangerous the storm would become, but a single rational thought going through the Captains head would of saved all of the lives on board. They decided to hold money to a higher standard than each of their lives. Effects and damage
In seven different states in the United States, the damage was recorded to be over 200 million dollars. This damage came from the flooding of business and homes inland, mainly due to the flooding of the rivers Hudson, Hackensack, and Passaic rivers (Mcgahee 2008). Along the coast line nearly everything was completely destroyed due to strong winds which reached speeds of over 80 kilometers per hour which knocked over power lines, destroyed seaside homes while huge waves crashing on the shore did further damage to the properties (Oblack 2000).
During the three day span while the “Perfect Storm” raged on, power outages swept along the coast and partially inland due to the strong winds which blew over power lines and caused general disruption everywhere the storm touched (Mcgahee 2008).
There were twelve confirmed deaths, six of which came from the Andrea Gail which was lost in the storm which the movie is based around (McLeod 2009).
There was recorded wind speed and wave height recorded for the area, it was measured by buoys off the coast of Massachusetts including a wave that reached as high as 101 feet in height recorded by a buoy south of Nova Scotia Canada (McGuinness 2005). In the movie, what finally ended the Andrea Gail’s quest back to safety was a rogue wave, although this was unverified there were rogue waves observed during the real storm as high as 100 feet. These waves are the result of two waves crashing together from different directions, or if waves interact with the currents such as the Gulf Stream which `experts believed to cause most of the rogue waves observed during the 1991 nor’easter (Viets 2000). Summary
The movie The Perfect Storm did a fairly good job in capturing the essence of the Halloween Nor’easter of 1991. The special effects and sound were all very realistic as well as the details of the actual storm, which terrorized the East coast of the United States and Canada for three days. The creation of the storm was well documented in the movie and followed nearly the exact same timeframe. The film went further into recreating realism by actually rebuilding the Andrea Gail in the very same town of which it was originally from, Gloucester Massachusetts, which the movie was also filmed in (Tucker 2000).
Overall the movie followed facts and kept the entire production of the disaster extremely similar to the real Perfect Storm of 1991.
Drag, Walter. (July 14 2000). A comparative retrospective on the Perfect Storm. In The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved March 14 2012. http://www.erh.noaa.gov/box/PS.htm Mcgahee, Alvin. (August 20 2008). The Perfect Storm October 1991. In NOAA Satellite and Information Service. Retrieved March 28 2012. http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/satellite/ satelliteseye/cyclones/pfctstorm91/pfctstorm.html
McGuinness, Tim. (June 1 2005). 1991 Unnamed Hurricane “The Perfect Storm”. In Deadly Storms. http://www.deadlystorms.com/storms/1991/1991%20Perfect%20Storm/index.htm
McLeod, Jamie. (October 20 2009). Remembering the Perfect Storm. In Farmers Almanac. Retrieved March 14 2012. http://www.farmersalmanac.com/weather/2009/10/20/ remembering-the-perfect-storm/ Oblack, Rachelle. (n.d.). The Perfect Storm – Nor’easters. In About Weather. Retrieved March 28 2012. http://weather.about.com/od/winterweather/p/perfect_storm.htm
Tucker, Beth. (June 2000). On the Set of “The Perfect Storm”. In New England Film. Retrieved March 28 2012. http://newenglandfilm.com/news/archives/00june/perfectstorm .htm
Viets, Patricia. (June 29 2000). NOAA Meteorologists Recall Drama of Forecasting “The Perfect Storm”. In NOAA News. Retrieved March 14 2012. http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/ stories/s451.htm No Author. (May 5 2010). What is a Nor’easter? In Weather Questions. Retrieved April 2 2012. http://www.weatherquestions.com/What_is_a_noreaster.htm
No Author. (June 30 2000). The actual ‘Perfect Storm’: A perfectly dreadful combination of nature’s forces. Retrieved March 12 2012. http://articles.cnn.com/2000-06-30/nature/perfect.storm _1_hurricane-three-weather-systems-swordfish-boat?_s=PM:NATURE