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Satellite Image Courtesy of NCDC US Gov't
Satellite Image Courtesy of NCDC US Gov't

In late October of 1991, three unique storm fronts converged off the coast of Nova Scotia, creating a ferocious hurricane, 100 foot waves, and 'once in a century' conditions that would reverse the jet stream, cost millions in damage and leave six men dead. Four years later, this 'perfect storm' became the subject of a runaway best seller by the same name, and now, inevitably, the public gets to relive in film, the final moments of those who died on the "Andrea Gail".

Dozens of web sites have been launched about the subject. Their authors seek answers (yes, but what 'really' happened to the Andrea Gail?); or sell T-shirts and limited edition prints. Some follow the quest of storm chasers who are elevated to hero status. Others review the book ("a riveting recreation") or the Warner Bros. movie ("typical disaster film with mediocre effects"). The story has inspired several songwriters, and a rock musical is forthcoming. Like the fanfare that followed the release of "Titanic", the aftershock mania of the 'unnamed storm' is swelling.

Wait a minute; the 'unnamed storm' or the 'perfect storm'? Which hurricane was it anyway? No, it wasn't Hazel or Opal or even Hurricane Bob. This unusual storm moved within such unprecedented weather conditions that there was little opportunity for official naming formalities before she spun away from the Atlantic coast and headed out to sea.

Now made famous as the 'Perfect Storm' to identify the singular weather conditions, or the 'Hallowe'en Storm' in honor of its 5 day reign from October 28 to November 1, this killer hurricane had been most commonly called the 'unnamed storm' by meteorologists who are still analyzing its pattern and devastating effects. According to Environment Canada, "the Canadian Hurricane Center and the US National Hurricane Centre [felt] that naming or renaming this storm would cause major confusion on the part of the media and the public". Well that works. An unnamed storm with three names really clarifies things.

At any rate, here's what happened. On October 28, 1991. A strong extratropical storm that formed about 600 kilometres south of Halifax made a counter clockwise loop, moving in a northeastward direction through Nova Scotia. At the same time, out in the Atlantic, a smaller storm spun off the waning Hurricane Grace and encountered a cold front moving in from the Canadian North. This created an extratropical low pressure which mixed with moisture from Hurricane Grace, caused the highest waves ever measured on the Scotian Shelf.

The 'Andrea Gail', a longliner belonging to a sword fishing fleet out of Gloucester, Massachusetts, didn't make it home. During the search, some wreckage from the Andrea Gail was found on nearby Sable Island, known for its shipwrecks throughout marine history. Very little else of the ill-fated boat has been found.

As to the surge of fans, all the world loves a mystery, and a good sea mystery is second to none. Shipwrecks, ghost ships and treasure lost at sea is part of Nova Scotian lore.

While Halifax is usually out of harm's way of these killer cyclones, it doesn't hurt to keep a wary eye on the weather, even if you're only planning a clam bake on the beach. Here's a list of resources for the weather wise, storm trackers and fans of the "Perfect Storm", released on June 30th, 2000.

Current forecasts and weather links for the Halifax area
The Nova Scotian/Gloucester Connection - Lost At Sea
Titanic and Other Shipwrecks
Sable Island Then and Now
Tall Ships

Support the Perfect Storm Foundation
How to Prepare for a Hurricane
The Unnamed Storm - full details from Environment Canada
The Storm's Path - A map showing the storm's loop
View From Space
Glossary of Hurricane Terms
Down to Sea in Ships - Atlantic Canada
The Andrea Gail - Search and Rescue History
The Gloucester Times Perfect Storm Pages
The Perfect Storm - The Official Movie Site Download the Movie Trailer
Release Countdown
The Soundtrack (with John Mellencamp)
The Perfect Storm Fan Site (Warner Bros)

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All contents © 1995 - 2017 Highway7.com unless otherwise attributed
Highway7 E-zine, a publication of Hatch Media, is an electronic journal with a focus on commercial, historical, cultural and ecological issues concerning the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia in Canada. Topics include a growing resource of currently more than 300 articles. More articles and image galleries are added frequently as new material is brought to our attention. With Highway7.com, our primary aim is to serve, inform and reflect the rural communities on the Atlantic Coast of Nova Scotia, as well as to acquaint new residents, visitors, tourists, and investors with the special beauty and enormous potential of our region.
Last Change: 01-Feb-2017