Killer Hurricanes

Experts reconstruct the Great Hurricane of 1780 to help predict the risk of future storms. Airing November 1, 2017 at 9 pm on PBS Aired November 1, 2017 on PBS

Program Description

Devastating hurricanes struck the U.S. mainland and Caribbean islands in 2017. But they weren’t the first. The Great Hurricane of 1780 took nine days to blast its way across the Caribbean, killing at least 20,000—the highest known death toll of any single weather event in history. What made this superstorm so deadly? To reconstruct its epic scale and investigate what made it so devastating, NOVA joins historians and storm sleuths as they track down clues in eyewitness chronicles, old ruins, and computer simulations. Their evidence points to a truly terrifying, 300-mile-wide storm—with wind speeds probably exceeding 230 miles an hour and 25-feet storm surges that demolished everything in their path. But just how unusual was the Great Hurricane? Diving into sinkholes off Barbados and squirming into caves in the Yucatan, NOVA’s experts recover traces of tempests stretching back over more than 1,000 years. The picture they paint is disturbing: mega-hurricanes were not only more frequent in the past but are likely to strike again in our near future, as climate change warms the oceans and fuels more intense hurricanes.

 

Broadcast Credits

SERIES PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY
Oliver Twinch
FILMED AND DIRECTED BY
Paul Williams
EDITED BY
Ben Lavington Martin
NARRATED BY
Craig Sechler
MUSIC BY
Stephen Baystead
ANIMATION
Moonraker VFX
ASSISTANT PRODUCER
Lina Zilinskaite
PRODUCTION MANAGER
Jackie Chivers
PRODUCTION COORDINATOR
Sarah Janalli
AERIAL FILMING
Christopher Haddad
SOUND RECORDISTS
Hani Hechme
Delroy Johnson
ADDITIONAL MUSIC
Audio Network
ONLINE EDITOR
Tristan Lancey
COLORIST
Adam Dolniak
AUDIO MIX
Joe Cochrane
RESEARCH
Heather Cruickshank
Laura Mayne
Paul Satchell
ARCHIVAL MATERIAL
ALAMY
AP Archive
Axiom Images
BBC Motion Gallery/Getty Images
Biopixel Pty Ltd
Critical Past
Earth Uncut
Getty Images
Hurricane Activity Data: Kathryn Denommee
John Mattiuzzi
John Sochacki
Live Storms Media
Mackanaky Steevens Magloire
Marc Castells
Médecins Sans Frontières
MOLA
NASA
National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida
NOAA
Plan International
POND5
RT Doc
----
Sea Surface Temperature Data: Michael E. Mann
Shutterstock
State Archives of Florida
The Antiqua and Barbuda Tourism Authority
The National Archives
The U.S. National Archives
Ultimate Chase
SPECIAL THANKS
Dr. Lisa Baldini
Jeffrey P. Donnelly
Gregory J Holland
Phil Klotzbach
Thomas Knutson
Jim Kossin
——
FOR BLINK FILMS
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Dan Chambers
DIRECTOR OF PRODUCTION
Sarah Sapper
NOVA SERIES GRAPHICS
yU + co.
NOVA THEME MUSIC
Walter Werzowa
John Luker
Musikvergnuegen, Inc.
ADDITIONAL NOVA THEME MUSIC
Ray Loring
Rob Morsberger
CLOSED CAPTIONING
The Caption Center
POST PRODUCTION ONLINE EDITOR
Jim Ferguson
DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Jennifer Welsh
PUBLICITY
Eileen Campion
Eddie Ward
ASSOCIATE RESEARCHER
Brian Kantor
SENIOR SCIENCE RESEARCHER
Caitlin Saks
PRODUCTION COORDINATOR
Linda Callahan
DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL AUDIENCE RESEARCH
Cory Allen
PARALEGAL
Sarah Erlandson
TALENT RELATIONS
Janice Flood
LEGAL COUNSEL
Susan Rosen
DIGITAL MANAGING PRODUCER
Kristine Allington
SENIOR DIGITAL EDITOR
Tim De Chant
RIGHTS MANAGER
Lauren Miller
SUPERVISING PRODUCER
Kevin Young
SENIOR PROMOTIONS PRODUCER AND EDITOR
Michael H. Amundson
BROADCAST MANAGER
Nathan Gunner
BUSINESS MANAGER
Ariam McCrary
DEVELOPMENT PRODUCER
David Condon
PROJECT DIRECTOR
Pamela Rosenstein
COORDINATING PRODUCER
Elizabeth Benjes
SENIOR SCIENCE EDITOR
Evan Hadingham
SENIOR PRODUCER
Chris Schmidt
SENIOR SERIES PRODUCER
Melanie Wallace
DIRECTOR, BUSINESS OPERATIONS & FINANCE
Laurie Cahalane
DEPUTY EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Julia Cort
SENIOR EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Paula S. Apsell

A NOVA Production by Blink Entertainment Ltd. for WGBH Boston in association Channel 4 and SBS-TV Australia with the support of Creative Europe – MEDIA Programme of the European Union

© 2017 Blink Entertainment Ltd

All rights reserved

Additional Material © 2017 WGBH Educational Foundation

All rights reserved

Original funding for this program was provided by Draper, 23andMe, the David H. Koch Fund for Science and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

IMAGE:

Image credit (hurricane storm surge)
Courtesy NOAA, Jim Edds/Extremestorms.com

Participants

Mike Chenoweth
Climate Historian
Jeff Donnelly
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Kerry Emanuel
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Amy Frappier
Skidmore College 
Jeff Masters
Weather Underground
Reg Murphy
International Association for Caribbean Archaeology
Wayne Neely
Nassau Department of Meteorology
Marshall Shepherd
University of Georgia

Preview | 0:30

Full Program | 53:04

Full program available for streaming through

Watch Online
Full program available
Soon