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Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather Hardcover – May 1, 2010
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About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
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.
This year when tornadoes hit Kentucky and five people died, we didn't stop to think that before our modern warning systems the death toll would probably have been 100; we don't remember that we would lose one or two airliners full of passengers each year in wind shear crashes on takeoff or landing - we've only had one in the last 20 years because the meteorologists we are so quick to castigate figured out what a downburst was, how intensely powerful it could be and how to accurately forecast one and get a warning out so that airplanes stayed away from them. We also don't know how stupidly resistant the Federal Aviation Administration was to allowing such warnings to be transmitted or to sharing severe weather information it had with the non-aviation community. Mike Smith tells these stories in a riveting fashion.
Mike Smith had personal involvement in the rapidly developing world of saving lives by forecasting severe weather and warning people where it was going to hit. He writes about it in a style that is exciting; I found myself rescheduling appointments because I wasn't willing to stop reading. When I was done, I was convinced there should be a Nobel Prize for weather analysis and forecasting because it's saved so many lives.
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.
'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.
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...