Pat Shingeton: "The Halloween Storm and Donora..."
It was called the Halloween Storm, and the results were devastating. Winds lashed the North Carolina coast at 45 mph for five days. Hurricane-force winds pounded New England with high seas from the Carolinas to Nova Scotia. New Jersey was hit with the highest tides since the Great Atlantic Hurricane of '44. It formed on this date, Oct. 28, 1991, and was the basis for the novel "The Perfect Storm," and the sinking of the sword-fishing boat Andrea Gail. The National Weather Service called it "perfect" because of the set of events that resulted in the horrific storm. An extra-tropical cyclone developed along a cold front that slid off the northeast coast of the United States. With upper air support it deepened as Hurricane Grace made a hairpin turn to the east. What came together was a scary scenario of treacherous sea conditions over the western Atlantic. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported an event that happened on October 39, 1948 in Donora, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh was known as the Steel City and communities surrounding it contributed in the production of steel. On this fateful day, plant emissions and a stagnant air mass allowed pollution levels to rapidly increase. The article noted responses from residents that included the inability to see a football field or not seeing a street curb or the end of your hand. Life magazine ran an article entitled, “Murder From the Mills” with experts noting that if the smog lasted another evening the number of deaths could have topped 1,000. The smog killed 20 as today, the Donora Smog Museum chronicles the event.
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