Halloween Storm, the “perfect storm” most feared by sailors

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The perfect storm of 1991 – Image source: https://www.boston.com/

Everyone has seen Wolfgang Petersen’s film, “The Perfect Storm” starring George Clooney as the protagonist and captain of a fishing boat, the Andrea Gail, at least once. Not everyone knows, however, that this is a true story from late October 28 years ago, when the perfect storm suddenly “appeared” in the Atlantic Ocean, north of the city of Boston.

The “perfect storm” of 1991

The Halloween storm and the Andrea Gail

It is Halloween day 28 years ago. The Andrea Gail meanwhile had been at sea for several days. A dry spell had given way to good fishing, and on Oct. 27 Captain Frank Billy Tine Jr. had started heading home with his crew consisting of Michael Moran, Dale Murphy, Alfred Pierre, Robert Shatford and David Sullivan. In the Atlantic Ocean, this is the time when storms called “Nor’easters” (nor’easters) can be encountered, which in history have sowed panic among those who have encountered them.

Three of the six crew members of the Andrea Gail

The 1991 one, however, is considered by many to be one of the worst. A cold front from the east coast of the United States created a wave of low pressure, which met a high-pressure ridge from Canada into the Atlantic. The meeting of the two fronts originated a swirling mass of wind as the air moved between areas of high and low pressure. Another unusual element made this storm so terrible. The short-lived “aftermath” of Hurricane Grace was still in the area. The warm air left behind by the hurricane was sucked into the cyclone, creating what came to be called “The Perfect Storm” because of the rare combination of circumstances that made the storm incredibly powerful with winds up to over 185 kilometers per hour and waves of over 10 meters.

The cast of the film “The Perfect Storm” inspired by the Andrea Gail

The captain of a Maine fishing boat, Linda Greenlaw, was the last person to speak with Andrea Gail. On October 30, Andrea Gail is missing. The Coast Guard began a massive search for the crew of the Andrea Gail on Oct. 31. Only a few remains of the vessel were found on Nov. 5 on the shores of Sable Island, a small Canadian island 300 kilometers from Halifax. None of the crew was ever found.

 

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