A Fitting Resting Place for a Man of Hurricanes

| December 24, 2007 @ 9:27 pm | 1 Reply

Jose Fernandez Partagas was an amaizng man.

Born in Cuba, he received a degree in meteorology from Havana University and worked for the Cuban National Observatory. He left Cuba in 1961 and worked in the Bahamas before getting his Masters degrees from Florida State University.

Partagas became an associate researcher at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, doing research. He was a frequent visitor to the National Hurricane Center, where his expertise was often put to use and his bilingual skills utilized. He stayed in a small apartment in Coral Gables and was a fixture in the University Library, spending nearly 18 hours a day there.

He subsisted off the gifts and goodness of others. In return, he offered knowledge to students and other researchers.

Partagas spent all his time poring over shipping records and historical newspapers in order to exhume facts about previously unknown hurricanes. Many of the over seventy scientific papers that Partagas wrote were written while he lived in this impoverished state. But he was happy.

His exhaustive work was instrumental in the effort to update NOAA’s official track record of historical hurricanes. Partagas died in August 1997 in his happy place, the University of Miami Library.

He was destined for a pauper’s grave when hurricane researchers and forecasters stepped in. They waited for the right occasion for a proper goodbye. That right time occurred on August 30, 1998 when Hurricane Danielle was about 400 miles east of Miami. Research meteorologist Jim Gross boarded a NOAA P-3 Orion plane on a research mission into Danielle. The crew and six scientists held a brief ceremony as Partagas’ ashes were scattered into the howling winds of the hurricane.

It was a very appropriate final resting place for a man who was so dedicated to these powerful storms.

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Bill Murray is the President of The Weather Factory. He is the site's official weather historian and a weekend forecaster. He also anchors the site's severe weather coverage. Bill Murray is the proud holder of National Weather Association Digital Seal #0001 @wxhistorian

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