Hurricanes of the Apocalypse

DATELINE: Raindrops on Your Head! 


This series on unpleasant natural phenomena now adds big wind and rain to the mix of devastation. Apocalypse Earth is offering no relief from the Weather Channel.

If you want to see the most disappointing of the Apocalypse Earth specials, welcome to hurricane city. It’s nowheresville done up big.

As one of the longer entries in the series, we thought we might receive slightly more indepth scenes of rushing water than News at 11. Don’t count on it.

Human folly is the theme of this episode:  experts told that the New Orleans levee system can withstand a category 3 hurricane seemed to think that it would hold up against a Category 5. Hunh? We learn the system of water dispersal in the city actually encourages storm surge right into the downtown area. What?

If you want a catalog of follies, here is the episode you have been waiting for:  since the 1990s Florida has had a boom of population from the Midwest, people who never experienced a bad hurricane and had no idea what might happen.

As per usual in a crisis, you have drunken young men having a party. Some stand out in the 150mph wind to test their mettle, and some die. Par for the course, as we have learned in a pandemic.

A meteorologist in a cinder block house never thought he’d lose his roof. The show is rife with bad decisions, and there are names of infamy like Katrina and Andrew.  We learn the obvious: Florida is the most likely hit by hurricane state.

Hurricanes are the most predictable of major disasters, but that doesn’t mean much when complacency and apathy are the hallmarks of an uneducated public.

One of the storm chasers is a callow youth when we realize he was interviewed in 2005. We do not see his viewpoint recently, and again this is a pastiche show of long-ago footage, including interviews.

One of the most interesting segments was on the great hurricane of 1938 that hit New England. Color newsreel helps to bring it to life, and there is also evidence shown of the hurricane of 1893 that devastated Far Rockaway, New York.










Earthquakes on Apocalypse Earth

DATELINE: Movers & Shakers

 1994, California.

The apocalyptic hits just keep coming. This week we find ourselves horrified and terrified by the notion that if volcanoes and tornadoes don’t get us, we will sink into the Earth during a quake on the doomsday series from History called Apocalypse Earth.

In fact, this is the best episode so far of the series, featuring only earthquakes in the United States. It is a catalogue of rare photos and film, going back to the earliest recorded damages. California is the main hotspot, with documented deaths and damage from the 1850s. The more famous events in San Francisco, are actually secondary to the continuing quakes in Los Angeles.

The 1933 event and 1971 event are compared to the 1994 Northridge shaker that brought down famously overpasses, crushing occupants in their basement garages or highways.

With about 100 quakes every day, most unfelt, the dangers of living along the California coast may be a warning from this program. However, like those millions living in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius, the Los Angelenos are impervious and likely believe it will hold off for another generation.

Scientists intersperse the scenes with basic explanations of why buildings collapse and the underground topography.

We expected to see massive destruction at the old ball game in 1989, but when the reports came to New York and Boston, we took personal notice. In 1757 even Boston had a major earthquake.

After leading viewers to believe the special was about the US, you had scenes (horrific) of Haiti in 2010 and Mexico where primitive building codes never considered plate tectonics.

The climax is the New Madrid earthquake of 1811, the longest running, largest quake ever in the United States, lasting over a month with at least three major shocks and a thousand minor ones. With no cameras, only a few handwritten accounts survived. However, Memphis and St. Louis may be the heirs to a future bleak shock.

Staggering stuff, but there was no discussion of Alaskan quakes, and that was a great omission.

Apocalypse Earth on Tornadoes

DATELINE:  Terrible Winds


If you thought you had learned all you needed to know from watching the Wizard of Oz, you may find yourself well-informed on the subject of tornadoes after watching the second episode of the new History series on Apocalypse Earth.

You might find more than a witch on a bicycle being thrown skyward in one of the big tornadoes that hits the American Midwest.

The second episode of the Apocalypse series on History contains many facts and is quite informative. The United States, for example, has more tornadoes than any country on Earth. And these monsters can spin at 250 or 300 mph, doomsday in five minutes or an hour. Most tornadoes last about two minutes. Alas, the series continues to be repetitive and disjointed.

There are segments now and then called “Survivor Stories” but there is no difference with the rest of show. In fact, sometimes the heading is totally arbitrary and you hear from experts, not survivors.

We did learn about family outbursts (dozens of tornadoes coming out of one big system)  and that supercells and the F-category rating are fairly recent from the 1970s.

The worst place to be is Oklahoma, not Kansas, Dorothy.

There are rare historical photos from the 1967 outbreak in Oklahoma, or another bad one in 1974. They even go back to 1925 when the Tri-State tornadoes were the deadliest, but there is no chronology to these insights. Next, you will be hearing about St. Louis in 1896. Yet the info is compelling.

You can find yourself lifted up in a bathtub like one woman and tossed 300 feet. A piece of paper with identification was found 300 miles from where it was scooped up by winds of terror.

We did find this episode worth the time commitment of two hours.