Not to be confused with the current spy thriller by R. Joseph Garber (p. 647). This Whirlwind from Jaffe (Skateaway, 1999, etc.) really is about meteorology, not spies.
In North Carolina’s Bentleyville, Lucas Prouty, a meteorology freak since childhood, works for the local TV station as weatherman, or beachfront weather journalist. But at 35 and at his fourth small TV station, he feels he should be working for a major market, not making bad jokes on air about his fellow nerds. Poor Lucas’s recent marriage, marred by the stillbirth of the couple’s only child, dissolved after 17 months. His wife couldn’t stand his obsessive habits, among them working his way through a dinner plate by food groups. He’s now single—and irons his boxer shorts. Will Lucas ever make out with Kiki, the strip-club bartender with lemon-colored hair, now working for her MA in social studies at the University of North Carolina? Well, yes, but not until something supremely fantastic happens to him, and that’s Isabel, a Category 5 hurricane, one of the three strongest storms to hit the US in the past century. The station goes nationwide as Lucas films from the beach, roofs lifting off, his cameraman suddenly cut in two, the top half sailing skyward as the nation watches Lucas himself swallowed up by Isabel. Famous, he’s found by rescue workers nine days later, buried in a restaurant’s cellar. Lucas and Bentleyville become the center of a media maelstrom. Whenever he turns on the hospital television, there the media is, gathered out front. Then the boss of a network offers him a contract in New York. Marvin Kellogg has him on his late-night TV show. He and Kiki make out, almost. All of this happens with Lucas half-dazed, if not stupefied. There’s a movie deal afloat. Hey, what a whirlwind.
Much like Preston Sturges’s Hail the Conquering Hero for the new century.