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Storm Warning: The Story of a Killer Tornado Hardcover – March 6, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
On May 3, 1999, a series of 71 tornadoes blasted Oklahoma. The biggest of them all spanned a mile—making it the largest in recorded history—and delivered ground-level winds of over 300 mph. In her exhaustively researched book, journalist Mathis brings the Tornado Alley calamity to life. A native Sooner who spent many hours crouching in fear in her grandmother's root cellar, Mathis has a visceral connection to the region and its heavy weather that she supplements with the expert use of interviews and historical research. Mathis introduces readers to the slow development of weather science, to the families of the victims and to such unique individuals as Tetsuya Fujita and his Fujita Scale for measuring tornado strength. Although her initial, century-spanning onslaught of science and characters can be overwhelming, the story lines eventually coalesce, and by the time the tornadoes touch down on or near Oklahoma City, the reader is engrossed. In an era of Weather Channel "Torn Porn," tornado chasers and even "tornado tours" at $3,000 per person, Mathis has written a book that helps readers locate the story behind the spectacle. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
On May 3, 1999, a staggering number of tornados--almost 70 of them--touched down in Oklahoma, wiping out more than 10,000 homes and causing at least $1 billion in damage. One tornado, a mile wide or more, generated the fastest winds ever recorded on the earth's surface. The author, a native Oklahoman, takes us back to that terrible day, and--through interviews with survivors, meteorologists, and others--makes us feel as though we are right there in the midst of the holocaust. Comparisons to The Perfect Storm are sure to be bandied about, but it's important to remember that while Sebastian Junger relied on invented dialogue and dramatic license, Mathis was able to speak to the people who lived through the disaster, and her re-creations ring more clearly of the unvarnished truth. The current fascination with big-weather events almost guarantees the book a wide audience, and that's fine: it deserves one. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
Nancy Mathis has captured the feeling of the springtime in Oklahoma; the awe, the fear, and the respect with which tornadoes are regarded. The book weaves together many stories of common people from this area, people just like any other central Oklahoman. And she compellingly tells the story of how lives are shattered, molded--simply changed by the power of the tornadoes.
The May 3 tornado (the big one--A9) passed within 15 miles of my house; I had been playing golf that afternoon on a course in Moore that was destroyed--in fact, had we played the back 9, we would have been on the course when the twister hit. But the sky looked ominous, with the clouds at different elevations moving different directions--signaling significant wind shear, a factor in tornado formation that Mathis discusses in this book. It was simple stories like this that Mathis used to create the feel of the book.
Mathis captures the history of tornado forecasting and the personalities involved wonderfully. She tells the story of the meteorologists excellently. I believe this book to be the best available at telling the story of the tornado in totality and of the people it impacts. I have just a few quibbles with this book--the occasional instances of strong language (always in quotes) require editing before youngsters can read it. The book is not particularly scientific, and there are no photos or charts explaining the science. That is not the intent of this book. The story is so gripping (and graphic), that some children could have difficulty stomaching it. But this gripping retelling is what makes the book so good--for the story of the tornadoes is so extraordinarily exciting, and the springtime afternoons in Oklahoma so spellbinding, that only a book written in that way can accurately tell the story of the May 3 tornadoes.
The writing is excellent. I don't like it when people involved in science books, make the science too hard to understand. Usually those people are writing for their peers, and not for general readers. This book taught the science in an interesting manner. It didn't dumb things down, but it also didn't put on 'airs' which I find too often in textbooks.