Tornado Alley

Tornado Alley : Monster Storms of the Great Plains

4.15 (33 ratings by Goodreads)
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This book documents the violent weather-tornadoes-spawned by severe thunderstorms that strike the Great Plains of the United States. Written by an internationally recognized research scientist, the book presents a historical account of the study of the nature of tornadoes and their origin, describing the first scientifically motivated storm chases in the Great Plains, the use of meteorological Doppler radars and other instrumentation, simulation of storms on computers, and the documentation of weather phenomena during storm chases. Interwoven are stories of serendipitous discoveries, the intense excitement of close encounters with tornadoes, and the agonizing disappointments of unsuccessful chases and equipment failure. Most of all, the book conveys the sense of beauty, elegance, and mystery of the violent weather pursued by the author and his fellow students and scientists. Profusely illustrated with spectacular colour and black-and-white photographs, the book will appeal to the layperson or amateur weather enthusiasts as well as the professional scientist: for the latter, appendices with more detailed discussion of severe weather phenomena are more

Product details

  • Hardback | 192 pages
  • 222.5 x 288 x 19.6mm | 1,104.77g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 67 four-colour illustrations, 94 halftones, line drawings
  • 0195105524
  • 9780195105520

Table of contents

1. The Frontier Overhead; 2. Catching Real and Virtual Storms; 3. Numerical Simulations Come of Age; 4. Storm Chasing and Doppler Radar in Major Field Programs; 5. The Importance of Portability; 6. The State of the Art; 7. Where We Are Headed; References; Appendix A: The Dynamic Pressure; Appendix B: The Effects of Momentum Transport by an Updraft in a Sheared Environment; Appendix C: Other Resourcesshow more

Review quote

'... a tour de force with fantastic photographs of tornadoes and storm clouds from his own collection intermingled with an accessible description of tornado science... It is a fine example of how the public understanding of science can be achieved without any 'dumbing down... a gem of a book.' The Times Higher Education Supplement 29/10/99show more

Review Text

Radical-event meteorologist Bluestein (Univ. of Oklahoma) depicts with paint-by-number clarity (albeit with a more delicately shaded and elegant end product) the lives and quirky personalities of severe storms, particularly tornadoes. Tornadoes are one of the last frontiers of atmospheric science because, being on the ferocious and elusive side they don't exactly lend themselves to intimate study. And it doesn't help that these most violent of storms come in multiple personalities: Sometimes they're accompanied by powerful thunderstorms and mega-hail, sometimes not; they spin counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, clockwise in the Southern, and sometimes the reverse; they are oriented vertically, or not; they occur at all times of day, be it cold or hot; they proceed along a course, unless they decide to turn around. Bluestein shuffles between explaining what has been learned of severe-storm physics (and the wealth of instruments deployed to measure wind, temperature, pressure, and electrical behavior) and yarn-spinning his and his fellow storm-chasers' antics. It's a tribute to Bluestein that he can keep the attention of those who are less than weather junkies, even when he must get across to readers that "air being squirted in the main updraft at the tropopause level has enough kinetic energy to flow back against the upper level winds." The descriptions of the storms themselves are nothing less than awesome. In one, a man peers into the heart of a tornado as it slowly jumps over him, revealing its half-mile-high walls of rotating, debris-strewn air, an infernal chamber backlit by a spectacular electrical light show. This fusion of the terrible and the sublime has spawned an artful lexicon: updrafts and downshears, splashing cirrus and overshooting tops (not to mention the less poetically named mountainadoes and gustanadoes). An entrancing summary of what is known and conjectured about tornadoes, from a man who has been running alter them for over 20 years. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

About Howard Bluestein

Howard Bluestein is Professor of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma and is frequently a visiting scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. He is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, and his cloud photographs have appeared worldwide in magazines, books, calendars, and museums. He lives in Norman, Oklahoma and Boulder, more

Rating details

33 ratings
4.15 out of 5 stars
5 48% (16)
4 21% (7)
3 27% (9)
2 3% (1)
1 0% (0)
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