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"Hurricanes: Florida's Nightmare"

A humble release of a thirty-minute documentary talking all about hurricanes and the National Hurricane Center

I don't know what the odds are, but watching this DVD got me thinking: I actually recorded this on KLCS Los Angeles back in February 4, 2007 (I still have the DVD)! Alongside that was Mystery of the Megaflood and World Mysteries: The Bermuda Triangle - Lost at Sea, both of which I will review in the future, let alone obtain their officially released DVDs. Nevertheless, the official release of this DVD seems puzzling, as some sources say 2010 but Amazon.com says April 2011. Having its first(?) worldwide broadcast in 2007, assuming the date of release is correct, what took so long to release this? I'm not sure but I believe educational documentary films like these are made for good reason. As articles on MSN.com and Yahoo! teach folks such as the formations of tornadoes and hurricanes, watching these kinds of films puts you ahead of the pack. I sound like your parents but it's true; this also includes books. There's no shame in learning, unless you refuse to.

The feature film starts with a phone call reporting a developing storm approaching land—Florida. Interspersed with shots of workers at the National Hurricane Center team up to analyze and report the most accurate prediction of the storm's path.

"There really isn't any such thing as a perfect forecast. They all have some degree of error."
- James Franklin, Hurricane Specialist

Being a serious source for the state of Florida, NHC's goal is to protect lives and property of its people. If a wrong call is made, "you'd get a lot of people killed." Almost similar to the weather centers tracking tornadoes in Dallas, Texas, NHC's crew discuss, analyze and view various cyclonic patterns off the Atlantic coast watching its behavior, its track and how rapidly it will develop into a hurricane.

As the actual feature starts, you notice something: the title. Is it Hurricanes: Florida's Nightmare or Anatomy of a Hurricane? This will immediately confuse some. As you can tell, the narrator is Peter Thomas—the same man whose narrative voice can also be heard from Discovery Channel's sadly-defunct series Perfect Disaster. The video itself is a 4:3 letterbox, not an authentic widescreen (16:9). If you're watching this on a widescreen TV, control your blood pressure.

The narrator introduces the 2004 hurricane season, namely on August 13th where Hurricane Charlie struck the southwest coast of Florida. Suddenly on September 4th, several weeks after Charlie, Hurricane Frances approached the Florida land knocking out electricity to over 1 million homes. Making his press report to the people, former president George W. Bush declared the state of Florida "a major disaster area."

"A hurricane is basically a heat engine. It takes energy from the ocean surface—liquid water. That water then rises in the center of the storm and that releases heat. And this release of heat in the core of a storm, tends to lower the pressure, that energy gets converted from heat energy into wind energy. And, the winds increase, and if everything is right, or wrong depending on your point of view, the system can then develop."
- James Franklin, Hurricane Specialist

Next is the introduction of NHC's most important piece of equipment to track any odd weather patterns: the Doppler Radar System. According to Russell Pfost, the radar sustained a lightning hit a week before Frances came on shore. Tracking anything on a 250-mile radius, its wind speed and rainfall, NHC did not equip unprepared: Key West and Melbourne are the NHC's backup radars in case the Doppler ever gets knocked out on the path of the hurricane.

Back to work, and the crew controlling an aircraft release a weather instrument to measure Hurricane Ivan's wind speed and rainfall. We then learn that the "hot seat" is the forecaster's chair, who must make the most reasonable report globally about the hurricane while the others scramble, and the media await for an answer, to accurately conclude the disruptive weather pattern (as mentioned earlier, one wrong guess and people will get killed). While more reports and work are being done on Hurricane Ivan, another cyclonic storm is beginning to brew: Hurricane Jean.

Although some of the workers, having been asked of a worst case scenario, feel they can still operate if the center itself was hit, the NHC is "built like a fortress," says the narrator. Its thick, concrete walls are strong enough to withstand even the most powerful winds. Along with more clips of the folks in NHC working to come up with a logical report, hurricane specialist James Franklin was asked about "the big one." He says that "the big one" will be a big storm striking a major metropolitan area. It is then that Hurricane Jean approaches land and strikes in the same area as Hurricane Frances. The narrator states that hurricane season ends on November 30th.

"Experts say that the hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005 are part of an active weather cycle that may continue to produce above average numbers of tropical storms and destructive hurricanes. Recent events have shaped a new reality in our human experience and a rising awareness of the powerful forces of nature."
- Narrator

That's a great point. If our nation was more aware of the forces of Nature, we'd be better prepared for what's to come, how to act on it and be able to reduce, and likely eliminate, loss of lives. As the narrator states, weather forecasting will never be an exact science. And as more weather 'errors' arise, due to population increase and climate change, the narrator sums up a question we can all ask ourselves: Will the next one be "the big one?" The film ends with credits.

The title of this DVD can throw some off, as it did with me. However, if the title states that the program is "an anatomy of a hurricane," there wasn't enough information to dissect the development of a hurricane, where it develops and breaking down the ingredients for a hurricane, scientifically. It was all discussed very briefly by James Franklin. Secondly, this DVD felt more of a review about the insane 2004 year with the development of three hurricanes striking Florida (that 2004 year was one crazy year, I'll tell you that).

Even though I have already watched, and recorded, this back in 2007, it never stuck with the title of the documentary film nor did I learn much (other than knowing more about the NHC itself). Those wanting to plunge in the world of meteorology may find this a worthy purchase, if and only if they've got previous knowledge of the subject. As for those starting out, there's very little you might gain. However, if working for big weather agencies and centers fascinate any of you, you will come away with how much work, yet pressure, there is at the National Hurricane Center. Other than that, it feels more of a review than an anatomy. We never learned the different categories of a hurricane, how they name the hurricane and where the storm often begins (occasionally on the coasts of West Africa).

Yeah, I remembered watching and recording this on a cozy, rainy night that February 4th in 2007. Because my fascination with meteorology was at its highest, I wished there was more on this great film (I wanted to learn the whys and hows of natural disasters back then). Included are some 3D graphical diagrams of the hurricanes, raw footage of strong winds, heavy rainfall and the aftermath of the hurricane's damages caused. As for the DVD, there's only one menu option: PLAY MOVIE. That's it, nothing else; No pictures, no additional information, not a darn thing. The narration, the editing, the cinematography, the chroma key and the audio were all done wonderfully. I really enjoyed this documentary film, however, more could've been said and introduced about the hurricane itself, as well as educating those new to the subject.





  • Great documentary, shown exactly as is on public TV.
  • Exclusive look-ins at the National Hurricane Center.
  • More contents could've been added.
  • Documentary was more about the National Hurricane Center as opposed to hurricanes themselves.
  • This is the only feature presentation on the DVD.
  • Letterboxed, instead of widescreen.
75% (C)
Fan Rating
Title Hurricanes "Florida's Nightmare"
Description An inside look at the battle of Man vs. Nature


"Florida's Nightmare"

When massive hurricanes like Ivan and Katrina threaten the United States, it is up to the experts at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami to tell us when and where they will make landfall. And predicting a storm of this magnitude is a tricky and stressful thing. One wrong calculation could leave millions of unsuspecting people directly in a storm's deadly path.

Meet the experts from the NHC and work alongside them in their Miami fortress as they provide life-saving information to the population in Hurricanes: Florida's Nightmare, which previously aired on public television. Learn what it takes for a hurricane to develop, and find out how today's advanced technology can both help and hurt predictions. Then go behind the scenes and relive one of the most active hurricane seasons the Atlantic has ever seen!

[From inner cover]

Hurricane Ivan

The 2004 Atlantic hurricane season has been one of the deadliest and most costly within the last decade. At the center of it all, was Texas-sized Hurricane Ivan, which threatened residents of the northern gulf coast with its highest winds sustaining 165 mph. Watch from the expert point-of-view as the storm develops and find out how too much technology nearly sent predictions off course!

Inside the NHC

From the beginning of June to the end of November, Florida's pleasant tropical climate is at risk from some of the most powerful weather forces in Earth. Meet the meteorological forecasters on the front lines of these storms in Hurricanes: Florida's Nightmare. Step inside the National Hurricane Center in Miami with some of the country's most important minds, and spend one very stressful hurricane season in their shoes.


Hurricanes: Florida's Nightmare is part of TOPIC Entertainment's exclusive DVD Excellence series featuring programs previously enjoyed on public television. The world-class presentations in this series have sold more than a million copies.

• OVER® America
• OVER® Florida
• OVER® Alaska
• OVER® Calfornia

• Wild Florida
• Florida's State Parks
• Texas Rangers
• Icy Killers
ISBN / Bar Code number (978-)1-60077-875-5 / 7 81735 60549 3
Video Format 1.33:1 (4:3) / Letterboxed
Audio Format Dolby Digital
Disc Count One (1)
Language(s) English
Genre Documentary
Subtitles None
Rated G - General Audiences
Region Region 1 - NTSC
Specification Color
Features [MAIN MENU]: (1. Play Movie)
Production TOPICS Entertainment® (www.topics-ent.com)
Company TOPICS Entertainment® (www.topics-ent.com)
Item / Product Number #60549
Closed Captioning Yes
DVD Release April 11, 2011 (????)
Run Time Approx. 25 minutes (Intro - 00:23, Title Screen - 01:27, Feature - 24:02. Total DVD time: 25:52.)
Copyright Box art and title ©2011 TOPICS Entertainment, Inc., Renton, WA. ©2005 Community Television Foundation of South Florida, Inc. All names are the registered trademarks of their respective owners. All Rights Reserved. Look for other great selections from TOPICS Entertainment in leading retailers and at www.topics-ent.com.
Other Formats ????
Quoted Reviews --
Other This box is made of recyclable material.

TOPICS Entertainment uses recycled paper whenever possible.

TOPICS Entertainment donates 5% of its pre-tax profits to education and conservation groups.
Anatomy of a Hurricane

Written and Produced by
Mark Baker

Sean Hickey

Narrated by
Peter Thomas

Mark Baker
Allan Farrell
Robert Makovicka
Jeremy Nickolson

Sound Recordist
Joe Eknaian

Associate Editor
Bared Maronian

Ray Ratliffe

Production Assistants
Angela Chambers
Lowell Halpern
Akshara Sanwal

Production Coordinators
Frances Hernandez
Norma Quintero

Post Production Engineers
Jose Jimenez
Gene Telley

Jonathan Dinerstein

Hurricane Images and Animations

Photographs Courtesy of
The Palm Beach Post

Special Thanks
Gloria Aversano
Mary Kate Leming
Frank Lepore
NOAA National Hurricane
Center Library
Tradewinds Video

Director of Programming
Neal Hecker

Executive Producer
Jack Gibson

Copyright 2005 WPBT
Community Television Foundation
of South Florida


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