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Subject: J4) What fictional books, plays, poems,
and movies have been written involving tropical cyclones?
Contributed by Neal Dorst
There is an undeniable drama to hurricanes; their massive scale affecting the lives of thousands, the foreshadowing of impending doom, and their ponderous pace as they approach the shore. This has made them ideal plot elements in many fictional works. Below is an admittedly partial list of some novels, plays, poems, and movies which have used hurricanes as a major dramatic element.
- The Tempest (1611) by William Shakespeare
Inspired by a 1609 hurricane which shipwrecked the Sea View on the island of Bermuda, in the opening act Prospero magically conjures up a sea storm to bring a ship to his island exile.
- "Wreck Of The Hesperus" (1839) By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Although the old Sailor "fears a hurricane" the storm in this poem is more likely a nor'easter.
- St. Thomas (A Geographical Survey) (1871) by Bret Harte
In this short poem, the elements object to being surveyed and the
'black-browed Hurricane' conspires with Mountain and Sea to submerge the
island of St. Thomas. In reality, the hapless island had suffered a
devastating hurricane in 1867 followed by an earthquake and tsunami.
Chita : A memory of Last Island (1889) by Lafcadio Hearn
In this novella a young Cajun girl survives the 1856 hurricane that wiped out the resort on Last Island and is raised by a Spanish fisherman on the Louisiana coast.
- The Ballad of the Calliope (1897) by A.B. "Banjo" Paterson
Author of "The Man from Snowy River", 'Banjo' Pateson penned this poem celebrating the HMS Calliope survivng a typhoon during a show-down with German and American ships in a struggle over Samoa.
- Son of the Carolinas (1898) by Elizabeth Carpenter Satterthwait
A story of a hurricane striking the Sea Islands off the Georgia coast. Noted for its use of the native Gulla dialect.
- Wed by Mighty Waves (1901) by Sue Greenleaf
A romantic novel set against the horrors of the Galveston hurricane.
- Typhoon (1903) by Joseph Conrad
In this short story a steamer blunders into the teeth of a typhoon
in the South China Sea.
- Hurricane in Galveston (1913) directed by King Vidor
A Galveston native, King Vidor survived the 1900 hurricane when he was six
years old. His directorial debut was this one reeler when he was nineteen,
recounting the horric storm. He wrote a fictional account of it entitled
"Southern Storm" in the May 1935 issue of Esquire magazine,
four months prior to the Labor Day hurricane. Sim Aberson brought
this to our attention.
- Porgy (1925) by DuBose and Dorothy Heyward
A novel recounting the life of a crippled street beggar in Charleston, SC.
The Heywards produced it as a play in 1927, and collaborated with George
and Ira Gershwin to turn it into the opera "Porgy and Bess" in 1935.
A major turning point in the opera comes when a hurricane pummels Catfish
Row and kills several of the characters, changing everyone's lives.
A movie based on the opera was released in 1959, directed by Otto
Preminger, and a televised version was produced by the BBC in 1993.
- The Cradle of the Deep (1929) by Joan Lowell
At first published as a true life account of Lowell's 16 years aboard a copra
trade ship, complete with her rescuing kittens when the ship burnt up off
the coast of Australia, the book soon came under attack as almost entirely
fiction, especially when the ship turned up safe and sound in Oakland. In
her defense, Lowell made a 1934 movie entitled "Adventure Girl" based on
her book, directed by Herman C. Raymaker, in which she hunts for Mayan
treasure and battles a hurricane off the coast of Guatemala. This convinced
no one. Sim Aberson also dug up this old bone of contention.
- China Seas (1935) directed by Tay Garnett
Based on a novel by Crosbie Garstin. Clark Gable stars as a ship captain
plying the Hong Kong-Singapore trade, torn between Jean Harlow and Rosalind
Russell. In addition to fighting off Malay pirates, he must pilot his ship
through a typhoon. Twenty years later Gable would return to Hong Kong to star
in "Soldier of Fortune" (1955) where he romances Susan Hayward as a typhoon
rakes the city. The storm here is more of a metaphor and appears on screen
like a bad squall line.
Hurricane (1935) by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
The duo that wrote the "Mutiny on the Bounty" trilogy reunited to
bring us this tale of a devastating typhoon in French Polynesia which alters
the lives of the residents of the island of Manukura. This novel was made into
a movie twice, once in 1938 starring Dorothy Lamour and Jon Hall and a remake
in 1979 with Mia Farrow and Dayton Ka'ne. The first effort had a musical hit
with the song "The Moon of Manukura". The 1979 remake inspired the end of
Dayton Ka'ne's movie career.
In order to capitalize on the first film's popularity, Lamour was cast in
"Her Jungle Love", where a typhoon strands Ray Milland on her island, and
then costarred her with Robert Preston in Paramount's "Typhoon" (not based on
the Conrad story) in 1940. In 1951, Jon Hall was back with Marie Windsor
in "Hurricane Island", where a shaman conjures up a hurricane as a revenge on
Juan Ponce de Leon and the gang.
- Hurricane (1935) by Vance Palmer
Australian novelist Vance Palmer, in the wake of a 1934 cyclone
which struck Queensland, uses such a storm as a plot device for the main
character's development. Thanks to Chrystopher Spicer for his insights about
- Their eyes were watching God (1937) by Zora Neale Hurston
The principle characters survive the Lake Okeechobee hurricane of 1928 only to suffer the devastating aftermath. Made into a TV movie in 2005 starring Halle Berry and Michael Ealy.
- The Second Hurricane (1937) music by Aaron Copeland, libretto by Edwin Denby
A two act opera written for high school performers (The Company Music School of the Henry Street Settlements). A group of students is sent to aid in rescue efforts after a hurricane, only to be caught by the storm surge of a second hurricane. The kids have to learn cooperation in order to survive.
- In hazard (1938) by Richard Hughes
Based on the travails of the Archimedes, a cargo ship caught in a
hurricane in the Caribbean Sea.
- Typhoon Treasure (1938) directed by Noel Monkman
The solitary survivor of a pearling ship wrecked by a cyclone seeks to retrieve
the ship's cargo, braving the jungle and headhunters. Shot in Queensland and
along the Great Barrier Reef.
- When Tomorrow Comes (1939) directed by John Stahl
Charles Boyer, a concert pianist, and Irene Dunne, a union organizer, are trapped in a church by the storm surge of the Great New England hurricane, and must come to grips with their relationship. Won an Oscar© for Best Sound, no doubt for the hurricane's wind.
Storm (1941) by George R. Stewart
Actually this novel is not about a hurricane, but an extratropical
cyclone. However, I give it an honorable mention here since it depicts a Junior Meteorologist who has a personal habit of naming storms. This helped to popularize the idea of naming hurricanes. It was made into a
Disney TV movie "A Storm named Maria" in 1958, and inspired the song "They Call the Wind Maria" from 1951's Lerner and Lowe play "Paint Your Wagon".
- Cyclone (1947) by Vance Palmer
The Australian novelist revists tropical cyclones and their impact in
this fictional account of a cyclone similar to the one in 1934,in which he
lost a friend, devastates the Queensland fishing fleet. Thanks to Chrystopher
Spicer for this entry.
- Key Largo (1948) by Richard Brooks Directed by John Huston
This movie starred Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall and was loosely based on a 1939 play by Maxwell Anderson. Mobster Edward G. Robinson holds several people hostage in a Keys' hotel as a hurricane bares down on them.
- Slattery's Hurricane (1949) by Herman Wouk
Set in post-World War 2 Miami, a man seeks redemption by flying a hurricane reconnaissance mission for a Navy buddy. The movie opened in 1949 with Richard Widmark and Veronica Lake. It proved popular enough for Wouk to serialize the script for magazine publication, and in 1951 it was released in paperback.
- The Caine Mutiny (1951) by Herman Wouk
The climactic scene aboard the USS Caine takes places as Halsey's fleet has its fatal run-in with Typhoon Cobra. Wouk adapted his novel in 1953 into a play starring Lloyd Noland and John Hodiak and for the movies in 1954 with Humphrey Bogart and Van Johnson.
- Thunder Bay (1953) directed by Anthony Mann
Jimmy Stewart is an engineer building an oil drilling platform off the Louisiana shore. He rides out a hurricane on his platform to see if it can stand the stress.
- Hurricane Road (1954) by Nora K. Smiley and Louise V. White
A Novel of a Railroad that Went to Sea. Fictional account of the building of Henry Flager's railroad to Key West, and the devastating hurricane in 1906 which nearly destroyed it and the Labor Day hurricane in 1935 which did.
- Target Hurricane (1955) directed by Leigh Jason
An episode of Science Fiction Theater starring Marshall Thompson
and Ray Collins. A meteorologist is determined to discover the mysteries
of a hurricane, even if he has to send a submarine to discover why it formed.
Originally broadcast on Oct. 22, 1955.
- Ferry to Hong Kong (1959) directed by Lewis Gilbert
This time it's Orson Welles as the ship captain who battles pirates
and a typhoon in the South China Sea. The question remains, do pirates
cause typhoons or visa versa?
A Journey to Matecumbe (1961) by Robert Lewis Taylor
Tells the tale of two young men traveling the post-bellum South to search for their fortunes in the Florida Keys. Along the way they dodge Klansmen and survive a hurricane. This was adapted by Disney Studios in 1976 into the film "Treasure of Matecumbe" starring Robert Foxworth and Joan Hackett.
Hurricane Hannah (1962) narrated by Bob Cummings
After the success of "A Storm named Maria" in 1958, The Wonderful World
of Disney made another TV episode about a fictional Hurricane Hannah.
They used actual footage shot of Hurricane Carla from civilian Hurricane
Hunter aircraft, as well as footage of the National Hurricane Research
Project and National Hurricane Center. Joel Bader reminded us to include
- Wyatt's Hurricane (1966) by Desmond Bagley
Set on a lush Caribbean island, meteorologist David Wyatt knows that Hurricane Mabel will hit despite what the forecast says. Throw in a political revolution and some romance and you've got a mid-60's suspense novel.
- Castle Ugly: A Love Story (1966) by Mary Ellin Barrett
Irving Berlin's daughter, in her first novel, tells the story of a woman haunted by her childhood home and its associated memmories with the "Long Island Express" of 1938. Thanks to Lourdes Aviles for bringing this to our attention.
Under the Eye of the Storm (1967) by John Hersey
Two couples sail their yawl into the heart of a hurricane and into the
stormy seas of their relationships. Thanks to Joel Bader for mentioning
- A Boatload of Home Folk (1968) by Thea Astley
A tour boat full of conflicted people must come to terms with
their personal problems as a tropical storm bears down on their ship
and the island its anchored at. My gratitude to Chrystopher Spicer for
pointing this one out.
- Hurricane in the Keys (1968) by Henry Hayes Stansbury
This self-published novel tells of a Category Five hurricane threatening the Florida Keys and the President of the United States' decision to order the seeding of the storm.
- Devil Walks on Water (1969) by John F. Murray
A novel based on accounts of survival from the 1938 New England hurricane.
- On the Wings of the Storm (1969) by Richard Newhafer
A heist caper set in Palm Beach as Hurricane Margo threatens. Thanks to Christine McGehee for bringing this gem to our attention.
- Marooned (1969) directed by John Sturges
Three Apollo astronauts are trapped in their orbiting capsule when the re-entry rockets fail, so Gregory Peck (NASA) must launch David Jansen's rescue rocket in the eye of a hurricane. Lampooned by Mystery Science Theater 3000. "I love the Weather Channel."
- Hurricane Alert (1970) by Walter T. Donovan
A Florida county Civil Defense director must battle political corruption as Hurricane Hanna looms in this 'gut grabber'.
- Hurricane Hunters (1972) by William C. Anderson
This novel concentrates on the lives and loves of Air Force Hurricane Hunter pilots. It was adapted into a made-for-TV movie in 1974 called "Hurricane" starring Martin Milner and Frank Sutton.
- The Eye of the Storm (1973) by Patrick White
White won the Nobel Prize for Literature for this novel in which an
aged, controlling matriarch recalls her life from her deathbed, including a
life changing encounter with a cyclone. This novel was adapted in 2011 into
an Australian film directed by Fred Schepisi and starring Geoffery Rush and
Charlotte Rampling. Thanks to Chrystopher Spicer for bringing this one to our
- Condominium (1977) by John MacDonald
Residents of a condo in southwest Florida are beset by unscrupulous real estate developers, faulty construction, and a Gulf hurricane. This was adapted into a 1980 TV movie starring Barbara Eden and Steve Forrest
- Cat Five (1977) by Robert P. Davis.
As a Category Five hurricane menaces ritzy Palm Beach, hurricane researchers are torn apart by a blistering love triangle. OK, this one made me laugh.
- Storm Center (1983) by Elizabeth Verner Hamilton
Novel based on her family's accounts of surviving the Great Hurricane of 1893 hitting Charleston, SC.
- Prospero Drill (1984) by Carl A. Posey
A former NOAA Public Affairs Officer, Posey penned this roman
à clef about hurricane researchers seeding a hurricane off Cuba, and
Castro's huffy response. Thanks to Jack Parrish and Paul Flaherty for
pointing this one out. A classic.
- Cyclone Tracy (1986) directed by Donald Crombie and Kathy Mueller
A three-part Australian TV mini-series that deals with Cyclone Tracy
and its effects on Darwin residents after its landfall on Christmas Eve of
1974. Noted for the special effects of the storm during part two. Thanks to
Chrystopher Spicer for mentioning this to us.
- Mother of Storms (1994) by John Barnes
When someone sets off a series of underwater explosions it releases large quantities of methane from melting methal hydrates, which in turn triggers global warming and hyper-hurricanes. The only hope lies with an astronaut with a brain the size of a small planet, who shields the Earth from the sun until things cool down.
- Stormy Weather (1996) by Carl Hiassen
In this novel inspired by Hurricane Andrew, people's lives in the wake of a devastating hurricane are further stressed by con men, shady contractors, and a former Lt. Governor.
- One August Day (1998) by Charlotte Morgan
Revisits Hurricane Camille in 1969 and its impact on the lives of the people of the Gulf Coast.
- Gingerbread Man (1998) directed by Robert Altman
A group of people in Savannah are trapped by a hurricane as an asylum escapee, Robert Duval, threatens to have his revenge on them.
- Virus (1999) directed John Bruno
A tugboat crew seeks refuge during a typhoon onboard a Russian research ship only to find it occupied by aliens who view humanity as a virus that they try to exterminate. Stars Jamie Lee Curtis and William Baldwin in the title roles. Another gem found by Sim Aberson.
Storm Tracker (1999) directed Harris Done
This made-for-TV movie stars Martin Sheen as a renegade Air Force general, and Luke Perry as a University of Miami meteorology professor who gets involved in the general's project to control hurricanes.
- Second Wind (1999) by Dick Francis
Francis takes a break from the horsey set to spin a yarn about a BBC TV meteorologist who goes on a hurricane hunting joy ride.
- Windows on Heaven (2000) by Ron Rozelle
A novel based on accounts from the 1900 Galveston hurricane
in which over 8000 people perished.
- Gale Force (2002) directed by Jim Wynorski
The safety of contestants in a TV reality show on a tropical
islands are threatened by both the producer and a Category 5 hurricane.
Thanks to Sim Aberson for finding this one.
- Zero Hour (2003) by Benjamin E. Miller
Antarctica is melting and its suddenly warm waters thereaten to spawn a super hurricane. A world famous MIT professor is consulted about his theory on hypercanes, and somethings up with those wacky penguins.
- Shutter Island (2003) by Dennis Lehane
In 1954, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels investigates an inmate's disappearance
from a hospital for the criminally insane on the title island when his
pursuit of the truth is disrupted by Hurricane Carol. This novel was
made into a 2010 movie directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo
DiCaprio and Ben Kingsley.
- Hurricane : Of the 1900 Galveston Hurricane (2004) by Janice
An inspirational novel about the people of Galveston surviving the hurricane of 1900 and rebuilding their city.
- Hurricane 38 (2004) by Gaylord Meech
Based on news accounts and family letters, this novel is about people trapped by the Great New England hurricane of 1938.
- Cat 5 (2004) by R. D. Dilday
Global warming has forced the U.S. Government to form the Department
of Weather and make a ruthless TV weatherman its new Secretary. Meanwhile,
a disgraced former Director of NHC investigates paleotempestology which
may or may not have a bearing on coffee futures. Then a Cat 5 hurricane
takes aim at Catalina Island. Yeah, the one in California.
Category 6: Day of Destruction (2004) Directed by Matt Dorff
This CBS made-for-TV movie starring Thomas Gibson and Nancy McKeon was originally supposed to be about a big power blackout crippling Chicago (original title "Overload"), but after the active 2004 hurricane season, they threw in a hurricane (Cat 6 over Lake Michigan), tornadoes, and Randy Quaid as a tornado chaser. A laugh riot.
- Storm Chasers (2004) by Paul Quarrington
A professional storm chaser flies into Dampier Cay to videograph an on-coming hurricane, where he crosses paths with various losers seeking refuge in the storm from their sorry lives.
- Whirlwind (2004) by Michael Grant Jaffe
A North Carolina TV weatherman finds fame and fortune after he pulls a
'Dan Rather' during Hurricane Isabel, and tries to pull his life out
of the toilet.
- Category Five (2005) by Philip S. Donlay
A mystery man founds a scientific organization called Eco-Watch.
When he flies its jet into a hurricane with 300 mph winds and gets trapped
in the eye he must come clean about his past in order to save the day.
- 14 Hours (2005) directed by Greff Chanpion
A made-for-TV movie based very loosely on the evacuation of patients from
a Houston hospital as Tropical Storm Allison threatens to inundate the
area. Sim Aberson brought this one to our attention.
Category 7: The End of the World (2005) Directed by Dick Lowry
CBS must've felt "Category 6" wasn't bad enough, so they made this sequel. Randy Quaid's "Tornado Tommy" is the only character brought back for the follow-up, which is ironic since his was the only main character in the original to die. Falling chunks of the mesosphere combine with urban heat islands to spawn global spanning superstorms (huh???). The best part of this pre-Katrina film is the ending when Gina Gershon assures the public that FEMA will be there to help them when disaster strikes.
- Invasion (2005-6) Directed by Thomas Schlamme
The ABC television series is set in Homestead, FL following a devastating
hurricane, which has released a race of alien, glow-in-the-dark squid
creatures that turn Air Force Hurricane Hunters into superhuman hybrids.
The series was cancelled after its initial season, with no resolution
to the question, "Does global warming cause more squid people?"
Thanks to Sim Aberson for reminding us to include this one.
- Der Untergang der Pamir (2006) Directed by Kaspar Heidelbach
"The Loss of the Pamir" is a fictional account of the sinking of the
German sailing ship Pamir in Hurricane Carrie in 1957. Danke Herr
Docktor Aberson fur diesen Eintritt.
- Katrina's Wake (2006) Directed by Kathilynn Phillips
A fictional account of a family trapped in their attic by the flood
waters following Katrina in New Orlean's Ninth Ward.
Again, thanks to Sim Aberson for pointing this one out.
- Honeymoon Hurricane (2006) by Pamela Rowan
Several people, including a honeymoon couple, head to Sanibel Island for
vacation only to be trapped there durring a hurricane.
- Hurricane (2006) by Karen Harper
Two single parents desperately try to find their children as a hurricane
swerves to menace their southwest Florida community.
- Hurricane Hannah (2006) by Sue Civil-Brown
A female jet pilot named Hannah makes an emergency landing on a small
tropical island, and must wait out the passage of Hurricane Hannah
while becoming familiar with the excentric locals.
- The Mote in Andrea's Eye (2006) by David Niall Wilson
Storm seeders battle a monster hurricane, but it disappears into the Bermuda
Triangle, along with the seeding plane.
- Superstorm (2007) Directed by Julian Simpson
A made-for-BBC movie, starring Tom Sizemore and Nicola Stephenson.
In the future, global warming has spawned larger, more devastating
hurricanes. Project StormShield is formed to, once again, investigate
modifying hurricanes. However, someone seems determined to use their
technology even if the scientists have moral quandries. The special
effects make the hurricanes look like really nasty low-precip supercells.
Originally a three parter on the BBC, it was trimmed to two hours when
rebroadcast in the US by the Discovery Channel. Thanks to Julian Heming
for notifying us about this.
- Windstorm and Flood: a novel (2007) by Rosalind Brackenbury
Set in Key West, where weather and Cuban politics mix.
- Rebel Island (2007) by Rick Riordan
Yet another honeymoon couple are trapped on an island as a monster
hurricane looms. This time they must solve a murder mystery and
confront their past before the storm strikes. And you thought buying
plywood before a hurricane was tough.
- Category 7 (2007) by Bill Evans and Marianna Jameson
An ex-CIA meteorologist carries out clandestine weather modification
experiments while his old organization tries to track down the eco-terrorist
manipulating hurricanes. In retribution for past budget cuts, the ex-CIA
man sends a Cat 5 hurricane toward New York City (it would've been a Cat
7, but the Saffir-Simpson scale doesn't go that high.) And the USAF
53rd WRS upgrades to P-3s. Thanks to Paul Flaherty for finding this one.
- Acts of Nature (2007) by Jonathon King
A PI and his police girlfriend find their vacation at a Florida fishcamp
interuppted by a hurricane, scavengers, and gunmen.
- Blown Away! (2007) by Joan Hiatt Harlow
A boy growing up in the Florida Keys befriends a local fisherman and
courts the new girl in town, until the Labor Day Hurricane blows his
- Elevator (2008) by Angela Hunt
A trio of women (the wife, the mistress, and the cleaning woman) are trapped
in an elevator as Hurricane Felix menaces Tampa, Florida.
- Hurricane: a novel (2008) by Terry Trueman
Based on the devastation Hurricane Mitch wrought on Honduras as seen
through the eyes of a young man.
- Babylon Rolling : a novel (2008) by Amanda Boyden
New Orleans neighbors must confront their prejudices as Hurricane Ivan
threatens the city.
- Carpentaria (2008) by Alexis Wright
A blend of myth and reality, life on the coast of the Gulf of
Carpentaria in northern Australia is told from the persective of the
Aboriginal inhabitants. The town of Desperance is ravaged by two
cyclones, which alter people's lives as much as they do the scenery.
Our gratitude goes to Chrystopher Spicer for alerting us to this quirky
- City of Refuge : a novel (2008) by Tom Piazza
New Orleans families must make fatefull decisions as Hurricane Katrina
threatens the city.
- The Devil's Eye (2008) by Ian Townsend
From Down Under, a novel about Cyclone Mahina, which smashed the perling
fleet anchored in Bathurst Bay in Queensland in 1899.
- The Killing Storm (2010) by Kathryn Casey
A Sarah Armstorng Mystery - A Texas Ranger hunts for a missing boy and a
cattle rustler as a hurricanes closes in on Houston.
- Hurricanes in Paradise (2010) by Denise Hildreth
The director of guest relations at a posh Bahamian hotel begins a journey
of healing with friends when a hurricane heads for the island.
- The House on Salt Hay Road (2010) by Carin Clevidence
The explosion of a fireworks factory on Long Island sets in motion turmoil
in an extended family that then has to deal with the 1938 hurricane and
looming World War. Thanks to Lourdes Aviles for mentioning this one.
- Eyewall : A novel (2011) by H. W. "Buzz" Bernard
A former Weather Channel meteorologist penned this tome about a hurricane
threatening the Georgia coast that unexpectedly revs up to Cat 5 strength
while a USAF recon plane is trapped in its eye. A network TV weathercaster
is fired before he can warn the residents of St. Simons Island. A
- Daniel fights a hurricane : a novel (2011) by Shane Jones
A man retreats to the forrest to face his boyhood fear of hurricanes, but they
follow him there.
- Hurakan (2012) by Michael F. Stewart
A woman attempts to save her daughter from being sacrificed to an ancient Mayan
god while surviving in the jungles of Belize during a hurricane.
- Fly on the Wall (2012) by Mike Hirsh
A Fly Moscone Mystery- A murderer may have used Hurricane Charley to cover
their tracks in an art heist gone bad. Set in Punta Gorda, someone else is
taking pot shots at the insurance adjusters swarming over the town in the
wake of the Cat Four storm. Thanks to Max Mayfield for finding this one.
Last Revised: Sept. 27, 2013
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