Tornado Alley

Tornado Alley

Monster Storms of the Great Plains

Book - 1999
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Tornadoes are the most violent, magnificent, and utterly unpredictable storms on earth, reaching estimated wind speeds of 300 mph and leaving swaths of destruction in their wake. In Tornado Alley, Howard Bluestein draws on two decades of experience chasing and photographing tornadoes acrossthe Plains to present a fascinating historical account of the study of tornadoes and the great thunderstorms that spawn them. A century ago, tornado warnings were so unreliable that they were usually kept under wraps to avoid causing panic over a storm that might or might not materialize. Despite cutting-edge Doppler radar technology and computer simulation, these storms remain remarkably difficult to study. To date, noinstrument designed to measure wind speed has ever survived a direct hit by a tornado. Leading scientists still conduct much of their research from the front seat of a speeding van and often contend with jammed cameras, flash floods, flying debris, and windshields smashed by hailstones. Using hisown spectacular photographs, Bluestein documents the exhilaration of hair-raising encounters with as many as nine tornadoes in one day, as well as the crushing disappointment of failed expeditions and ruined equipment. Most of all, he recreates the sense of beauty, mystery, and power felt by thescientists who risk their lives to study violent storms. For scientists, amateur weather enthusiasts, or anyone who's ever been intrigued or terrified by a darkening sky, Tornado Alley provides not only a history of tornado research but a vivid look into the origin and effects of nature's most dramatic phenomena.
Publisher: New York : Oxford University Press, 1999
ISBN: 9780195105520
0195105524
Characteristics: xii, 180 p. : ill. (some col.), maps (some col.) ; 29 cm

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Apr 20, 2011

Tornado Alley
Author Howard Bluestein, now into his sixties, has first rate credentials in his chosen avocation. A professor in meteorology at the University of Oklahoma who hold a number of degrees including a doctorate in Meteorology from MIT, he is uniquely qualified to write on this topic from a number of vantage points.
This book is by turns about the workings of tornadoes. This is the science part. Updraughts and vortices and all sorts of abstruse matter that might glaze the eyes of some readers but that will be exactly what the person who wants a greater understanding of what it takes to whelp and maintain one of these storms.
This book is also about the technology, and the history of the development of the technology that allows us the predict and pursue the pre-tornadic weather systems that give birth to these storms.
Finally, Bluestein has spent many years in the field chasing tornadoes. But not just as a vicarious thrill-seeking exercise but as part of the research that attempts to understand and to gather the data about the mechanisms at work in these natural phenomena.
The book attempts to bridge the gap between purely academic and popular. It manages to do this quite well. An additional feature of this volume is a very good collection of tornado photographs, in clour no less, that relate directly to the text. There is also an immense bibliographic listing of references.

If you want to understand tornadoes, this is your book.

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