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Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather Hardcover – May 1, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A well-known meteorologist and founder of WeatherData, Smith takes readers on a fast-paced account of the biggest storms in recent years and how weather forecasting has developed into a true science since the 1950s. Part memoir, part science account, Smith's tale begins in the late 1940s, when weathermen were actually forbidden to broadcast tornado warnings. The U.S. Weather Bureau blocked storm forecasting for fear of getting it wrong, just as today, according to Smith, the FAA has banned weather radios from airport control towers. He delivers a moment-by-moment account of the monster tornado that leveled Greensburg, Kans., in 2007 as well as a damning account of governmental incompetence in the leadup to Hurricane Katrina. But as Smith shows, scientists themselves can be close-minded and prevent their field from progressing: Smith recounts the struggle by Theodore Fujita, creator of the tornado severity scale, to see his findings on microbursts—which have killed hundreds of people in airline crashes—accepted by other scientists. This account of people who do something about the weather should appeal to just about anyone who enjoys talking about it. Photos. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Mike Smith is one of the world's experts in the application of weather science. Meteorologist, entrepreneur, and inventor (recipient of 18 U.S. and foreign patents), Mike works with some of North America's most important companies to save lives and property and creates technology to warn the general public of dangerous weather. Warnings is Mike's first book. He tells, from a first-hand perspective, the story of the creation of the storm warning system that saves so many lives.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press; 1st edition (May 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608320340
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608320349
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #394,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
When cutting edge technology works and lives are saved it rapidly becomes ho-hum; violent death that did not happen doesn't make the television news or newspaper headlines. How many recall that a three-day storm over the Great Lakes in the 1800s would routinely kill 500 people, a hurricane in Galveston in 1900 killed more than 6,000, or that before 1960 a strong cold front spawning tornadoes could kill or mutilate a few thousand as it raced across the country? We have a short national memory, which is probably why weather scientists have not been heaped with more medals than they could carry for the lives they've saved in the last sixty years.

Mike Smith grew up at precisely the right time to become an intimate part of the revolution in weather analysis and forecasting that, outside the public eye, surged through this country. He writes of the efforts of weather scientists who not only did the research that allowed accurate forecasts of severe weather but took the steps to create a warning system that meant scores of Americans didn't die in their beds each year as their houses blew up around them in tornadoes. It is a story of creativity and determination fighting bureaucracy and of humanity at its best as ad hoc teams formed between meteorologists who had learned to forecast severe storms and TV and radio broadcasters who had enough foresight and willingness to come up with new and faster ways to get word to the people that bad things were about to happen in their world and how to protect themselves.
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Format: Hardcover
Amazing. This isn't just the true story of how science changed the weather, it's the true story of how weather science SAVED LIVES! Growing up in Kansas and going though two separate tornadoes, I truly appreciate the humble beginnings of weather forecasting and the dedicated men & women who grew the science.
And not only tornado forecasting, these men & women have made the skies safer for airline passengers and developed better warning and tracking systems for hurricanes. This book is a wonderful, informative and at times, jaw-dropping read. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
As an Emergency Manager I give dozens of storm spotter classes every year, and coordinate the activities when our spotters and chasers are in the field, so I was especially intrigued to read how storm chasing came to be. But beyond that, everyone, regardless of vocation, has an interest in the weather, even if they only pay attention when it starts to turn nasty. Well even the occasional weather fan will be fascniated by the evolution of the warning system. Can you imagine if our weathermen were forbidden from telling us about an approaching tornado? You can if you read this book, because such was the case just a few decades ago. And for anyone more closely related to the field, especially those who responded to Katrina or Greensburg, Mike's stories will give you an even greater appreciation for the futility and heroism that were displayed.

'Warnings' is higly educational, but it reads nothing like a textbook. The writing is engaging and entertaining from cover to cover. Even if you're not yet convinced to buy it for yourself, if you know anyone with an interest in the weather, get it for them as a gift. If you're lucky, they'll let you read it when they're done.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
TL;DR review: Exciting, engaging, informative, couldn't put it down, you should buy this book

I initially purchased this book to get over a fear of tornadoes, thinking that the more you know about a subject, the better you are able to deal with it. I got more than I bargained for in the best way.

First of all, the author Mike Smith is a great writer. He weaves intricate stories with complex scientific ideas, multiple characters, and different places- all without being confusing or overly-technical. As someone without a strong scientific or meteorological knowledge base, I understood what was happening, why it was happening and what it meant both historically and to the people experiencing it.

The stories/chapters were well laid out and ordered so that each story built on what you had learned from the previous ones. Watching the evolution of technology, knowledge of the weather, and the people who did something with them was more interesting than any history class I've attended.

The stories about the towns, cities and people affected by the weather were straightforward without being heartless and touching without being saccharine. It imparted lessons without preaching. And it made me curious. I was constantly looking things up because I wanted to know more- about the storms, about the aftermath, about the technology and about the people.

To be quite honest it is the best book I've read in years. I couldn't put it down and read the whole thing in a day and a half. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an exciting book where you can learn something too.

And people say that weather is boring...
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