Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Halloween Storm of 1991

Twenty years ago, the interaction of three meteorological events produced an extreme nor'easter that became known as the Halloween Storm of 1991. The subject of much media attention at the time, interest in the storm was renewed after the 1997 publication of of Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm. The book tells the story of the Andrea Gail, a swordfish boat that was lost at sea attempting to return to Gloucester in the midst of the storm. While the exact fate of the three men aboard is unknown, their story was later dramatized in the 2000 film adaptation of Junger's work.

Through the collections at the State Library of Massachusetts, one can revisit the history of this devastating storm from multiple perspectives. In addition to Junger's book, library patrons can also explore newspaper articles that report on the storm's destruction and process of recovery in coastal communities. Proquest is an excellent electronic resource for accessing full text articles from the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald is available via the Library's microfilm holdings. At the time, news reports drew the comparison between the Halloween Storm and the Blizzard of '78, an issue examined in a 1994 report by the Army Corps of Engineers. The report, titled Coastal Storm Evaluation Halloween Storm of 1991 offers a wealth of information about the storm itself, as well as the significant impact that it had from Nantucket to Portland, Maine. The damage experienced by each community is described in detail and illustrated in striking color photographs.

Combined, these State Library resources offer a depth of information on an event that touched the lives of many Massachusetts residents. Please contact the Library if you are interested in viewing these items or learning about what else the collection has to offer.

-Libby Johnson, Reference & Outreach Intern