Storm (novel)

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First edition (publ. Random House)

Storm is a novel written by George Rippey Stewart and published in 1941. The book became a best-seller and helped lead to the naming of tropical cyclones worldwide,[1] even though the titular storm is extratropical.[2] The book is divided into twelve chapters: one chapter for each day of the storm's existence.

Plot summary[edit]

In January 1935, a cyclone develops in the Pacific Ocean near Japan, and becomes a significant storm as it moves toward California. The storm, named "Maria" by the (unnamed) Junior Meteorologist at the San Francisco Weather Bureau Office, becomes a blizzard that threatens the Sierra Nevada range with snowfall amounts of 20 feet (6.1 m). The storm's beneficial effects include averting a locust plague and ending a drought. Its harmful effects include flooding a valley near Sacramento, endangering a plane, stalling a train, and leading to the deaths of 16 people. It spawns a new cyclone, which significantly affects New York.[3]


This book was the inspiration for the Lerner and Loewe song "They Call the Wind Maria",[1] performed in the musical Paint Your Wagon. It also prompted the National Weather Service to use personal names to designate storms.[4]

Storm was dramatized as A Storm Called Maria on the November 2, 1959 episode of ABC's Walt Disney Presents. Co-produced by Ken Nelson Productions, it blended newsreel footage of several different storms to represent the mega-storm in the novel and traced the storm from its origins in Japan to the coast of California. The cast included non-actors, among them the dam superintendent George Kritsky, the telephone lineman Walt Bowen, and the highway superintendent Leo Quinn.

American singer, songwriter and producer Mariah Carey was named after this storm.[5][6]

The name Maria would later be put into the name cycle of cyclones, presumably as a tribute. It was retired from the Atlantic hurricane naming list after Hurricane Maria killed 3,057 people in 2017.[7]


Stewart's novel Fire (1948) was a sequel to Storm, again featuring the life of the (former) Junior Meteorologist, who was now a World War Two veteran and had been promoted. Dealing with a California wildfire, it also used the backdrop of an environmental catastrophe to disclose the personal struggles and triumphs of individual human beings.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Heidorn, Keith C. "George Stewart's Storm: Remembering A Classic". The Weather Doctor. Retrieved 2006-12-10.
  2. ^ Dorst, Neal. "Frequently Asked Questions: What fictional books, plays, and movies have been written involving tropical cyclones?". Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Hurricane Research Division. Retrieved 2006-12-10.
  3. ^ Time Magazine. Tainted Air. Retrieved on 2006-12-10.
  4. ^ "Naming Hurricanes" (National Hurricane Center). Retrieved 2007-06-12.
  5. ^ "Celebrity Central / Top 25 Celebs – Mariah Carey". People. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
  6. ^ "Mariah Carey: About This Person". The New York Times. New York. Retrieved March 27, 2011.
  7. ^