Nov 17 2012
10:46 am

Isaac Cline was a local boy, born and raised on a farm near Madisonville in the mid 1800s, and educated at Hiwassee College. He became what would later be called a meteorologist and was a central figure in the deadliest hurricane ever to hit the U.S.


I have read about 70% of Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson and I recommend it for anybody interested in history.

The storm that struck Galveston in 1900 destroyed far more lives than it might have but for the hubris of Weather Bureau Chief Willis Moore. The Spanish American War had just ended and Chief Moore was tired of seeing warnings from upstart Cuban weather predictors that 'unnecessarily alarmed the citizenry'. Never mind the fact that they were pretty good at their craft. He lobbied Western Union to suppress their telegraphic service to the U.S.

In the first week of September, Moore's Weather Bureau confidently predicted the hurricane that had just crossed Cuba would cross the Florida Peninsula as a tropical storm and head northeast out over the Atlantic. The Cubans were just as confident it would gain strength and head to the northwest toward the coast of Louisiana or Texas. Their warnings went unnoticed.

Isaac Cline and his family lived in a house a couple of blocks from the beach on Galveston Island. On September 7, 1900, they were expecting hot weather with rain showers.

Washington, D.C.
Sept. 9, 1900
To: Manager, Western Union
Houston, Texas

Do you hear anything about Galveston?

Willis L. Moore, Chief,
U.S. Weather Bureau

Min's picture

It's a great book.

That was one of the most memorable parts for me--the incredible arrogance with which the National Weather Bureau dismissed the Cuban meteorologists, despite the fact that they were literally at Ground Zero for hurricane science.

Also, the shocking estimated death toll from that hurricane, which is still considered to be the worst natural disaster in American history, in terms of loss of life.

redmondkr's picture

Dr. Isaac M. Cline

Dr. Isaac Monroe Cline

Workers found the body of his wife Cora Mae almost a month after the storm. She was identified by her wedding ring. Dr. Cline had it enlarged and wore it himself.

bizgrrl's picture

Thanks, k. I'm putting that

Thanks, k. I'm putting that book on my list to read.

redmondkr's picture

I finished it yesterday. Now

I finished it yesterday. Now I'm doing a little bubblegum for the mind, Miss Marple's Last Cases by Agatha Christie.

The Miss Marple my mind sees as I read, by the way, is Margaret Rutherford.

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