Into the Storm: A book review

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:42 PM GMT on February 25, 2011

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"Matt's compact Jeep became impossible to handle. Water rose on the road. We saw a family hiding in the nook of an overpass and decided that joining them was our best chance to escape danger. We parked the car and ran. Then the tornado ground straight in our direction. Thick tree branches snapped like bread sticks and made gunshot-style sounds that pierced the tornado's baritone howl. Mud flew everywhere. Air getting sucked into the tornado rushed through every seam in the overpass."

Meteorologist Reed Timmer, star of Discovery Channel's Storm Chasers, and writer Andrew Tilin have teamed up to write a highly entertaining and solidly educational book that is filled with gripping stories like this, detailing Timmer's amazing career as a storm-chasing meteorologist. Into the Storm begins in 1998, when Timmer enrolled as an undergraduate in the University of Oklahoma's meteorology program. His early chase stories leave one marveling that he is still alive, as his strong obsession to experience and learn about severe storms was not accompanied by much knowledge or common sense. The excerpt above is an account of his chase of the infamous F5 Bridge Creek, Oklahoma tornado of May 3, 1999--the strongest tornado ever measured, with Doppler-estimated winds of 302 mph. Timmer lucked out, as the tornado made a sudden turn and spared him its full fury. He goes on to explain in detail how taking shelter under an overpass in a tornado is a bad idea (the overpass can magnify the winds, you've elevated yourself into a region where surface friction is not slowing down the winds as much, and you're exposed to flying debris.)

Timmer's narrative of his encounter with the Bridge Creek tornado sets the tone for the book--chase stories interwoven with meteorological education. The meteorology is described in a way that a high school-educated person can understand, and is generally accurate and well-done (one exception: he fails to go into enough detail on how hurricanes get their energy, merely saying they get it from warm ocean waters.) Mixed in with the chase stories and meteorology lessons are details of Timmer's personal life, his past, and feelings about his severe weather fascination. These add a very human touch to the book that will make it appealing to a wide audience. A center eight-page section of color photos enhances the presentation, though I would have liked to see more photos illustrating the University of Oklahoma, the Storm Prediction Center, and the locations of the two dramatic hurricane chases told in the book. His chase stories of Hurricane Katrina (where he weathered the storm at the jail house in Slidell after getting arrested as a suspected looter), and Hurricane Floyd (where he spent the storm in a mobile home near the eyewall), are eye-poppingly insane. He also talks a good deal about the dilemma faced by many meteorologists--how to reconcile our passion for storms with the great suffering and destruction they wreak. He opens the book thusly:

"It's an interesting proposition, seeking happiness from tornadoes. For those few of us who are unquestionably mesmerized by them, chasing tornadoes can be the most fantastic experience in the world. Tornado chasing taxes your intellect and puts you at one with incredible, spectacular forces of nature. Chasing is also a fix for any adrenaline junkie and, if you do it often enough, can become your career. But an obsession with stalking tornadoes can kill or maim you too, and even if chasing doesn't leave you with physical scars or a need for crutches, it's hard to escape unscathed. You'll witness death and destruction of property that sickens your stomach and saddens your heart. Your family will worry about you. Significant others will tire of playing second fiddle. Peers will disagree with the way you chase, and you'll lose friends to your obsession."

Timmer achieves some degree of relief from this dilemma by realizing that storm chasers do a public service by calling in reports that lead to more accurate tornado warnings, saving lives. He is also dedicated to collecting data for tornado research using video and instrumented chase vehicles. Still, the dilemma of attempting to gain happiness from tornadoes is one Timmer does not entirely have the answers to, giving this book a human element often lacking in books written by scientists. I recommend Into the Storm to both scientists and non-scientists; the stories are amazing, and the science is presented in a non-obtrusive way that does not slow down the book, but instead enhances it. Teaching meteorology using stories is a great way to educate people, and Timmer has done a great service to the field of meteorology by writing this book. Three and a half out of four stars. Into the Storm is $16.33 (hardback) from amazon.com. The amazon website and Timmer's tornadovideos.net website also have a spectacular 2-minute video clip highlighting some of the chases documented in the book.

This review will appear later this year in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, and is Copyright 2011 American Meteorological Society (AMS). Permission to use figures, tables, and brief excerpts from this work in scientific and educational works is hereby granted provided that the source is acknowledged. Any use of material in this work that is determined to be "fair use" under Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act September 2010 Page 2 or that satisfies the conditions specified in Section 108 of the U.S. Copyright Act (17 USC ?108, as revised by P.L. 94-553) does not require the AMS's permission. Republication, systematic reproduction, posting in electronic form, such as on a web site or in a searchable database, or other uses of this material, except as exempted by the above statement, requires written permission or a license from the AMS. Additional details are provided in the AMS Copyright Policy, available on the AMS Web site located at (http://www.ametsoc.org/) or from the AMS at 617-227-2425 or copyright@ametsoc.org.

Wunderground hiring a climate scientist
Weather Underground, Inc. is seeking a full-time scientist with excellent communication and programming skills to improve our climate change and meteorology education web pages. Initial task: use downscaled climate model output to generate "far-future" forecasts. The position requires an M.S. or Ph.D. in meteorology. Consult our employment web page for a full job description and application info. The increase in significant weather events over the past year has kept me tied up blogging, giving me little time to work on expanding the content of our climate change and weather education web pages. It is time to get some help!

Jeff Masters

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Quoting emguy:
I'm also watching the severe weather. This is really something. Regretful that this is only the beginning of the season!

However, I'm also wathcing the earthquake activity from here in Kentucky. Hmmm, I'm am QUITE a bit speculative on the fracking notion. Fracking isn't a great thing based on studies, but we're not seeing these earthquake swarms happenning in other places where fracking occurs either. Not to mention a 4.7 like that which was felt in numerous states tonight. The area has a geologic history of erthquakes and something natural is happenning there. Fracking, even if it did not help the situation, is not the cause or the blame of this.

WaterWitch11, you did not share the source of your quote. Where did this come from? Would be interested to know more. Mean time, hope all is well.
I have never felt an earthquake. I hope I never do. I am located on the Cumberland Plateau, and the situation here is looking quite serious. I have not even finished picking up debris from last Thursdays storm. And look at this monster from the GEM model about a week out...Link
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21764
604. emguy
I'm also watching the severe weather. This is really something. Regretful that this is only the beginning of the season!

However, I'm also wathcing the earthquake activity from here in Kentucky. Hmmm, I'm am QUITE a bit speculative on the fracking notion. Fracking isn't a great thing based on studies, but we're not seeing these earthquake swarms happenning in other places where fracking occurs either. Not to mention a 4.7 like that which was felt in numerous states tonight. The area has a geologic history of erthquakes and something natural is happenning there. Fracking, even if it did not help the situation, is not the cause or the blame of this.

WaterWitch11, you did not share the source of your quote. Where did this come from? Would be interested to know more. Mean time, hope all is well.
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Quoting WaterWitch11:
talking to myself again, really should learn to get on here earlier.
Hello WaterWitch..I am watching the severe weather that is forecast to hit us soon . Hope you are doing good..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21764
talking to myself again, really should learn to get on here earlier.
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"We have a disposal well here just outside of the city," Martini said. "People are suspecting that to be causing it, even though there isn't any proof of that."

Martini said the earthquakes started increasing in frequency over the past week and that the disposal well has seen an increase in use recently.

Lawrence Bengal, director of the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission, said a six-month moratorium was established in January on new injection wells in the area. He said four companies are operating already-drilled injection wells: SEECO Inc., Chesapeake Operating Inc., Clarita Operating LLC and Deep-Six Water Disposal Services LLC.

The moratorium, which is expected to end in July, is intended to allow time to study the relationship – if any – between the injection wells and earthquakes in the area.

The largest quake of the Guy Earthquake Swarm was a magnitude 4.0, which occurred in October, Ausbrooks said. The region could possibly see quakes reaching as high as 5.0, but he said anything above 6.0 is unlikely.

they have nerve to state how high they think it will go. but what if it is cause by the wells and it's reacting differently than other areas due to the location of this one. signs always ignored until after the damage is done.

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Quoting WaterWitch11:
Link

the earthquakes are to the left of the map, right?


Yes...around the Guy, AR and Greenbriar AR towns...about 13 mi nne of Conway
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Link

the earthquakes are to the left of the map, right?
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Quoting WaterWitch11:
MAP 4.7 2011/02/28 05:00:50 35.265 -92.344 3.8 ARKANSAS

they are getting bigger


and not nearly as deep as they were....my goodness
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MAP 4.7 2011/02/28 05:00:50 35.265 -92.344 3.8 ARKANSAS

they are getting bigger
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Quoting Grothar:
Nite everyone. Stay safe and dry. Thanks for the info and the laughs. Got to get some beauty rest. Figure 136 hours will do it. Take care.


Night Grothar...:}
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Thats a 4.7 and a 3.8 in Ark ....18 min apart tonight
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Nite everyone. Stay safe and dry. Thanks for the info and the laughs. Got to get some beauty rest. Figure 136 hours will do it. Take care.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26891
Quoting TomTaylor:

That's too bad, I had a pretty good laugh myself haha


Naw, we have made a career out of teasing each other. He is good guy. I'm sure he got good chuckle out of it. He is probably thinking a good one to get me the next time, the sick little dude that he is. Bet it will be a zinger, too!
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26891
Thanks weatherboy1992 !!! This is best viewed in the dark..with a 200 watt speaker system..awesome !!!


Quoting weatherboy1992:


Yup. Hurricane Felix 2007
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Quoting Grothar:


Guess Geoff didn't think it was funny. Haven't seen him since.

That's too bad, I had a pretty good laugh myself haha
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Quoting Grothar:



Here is a picture of mine and it works just fine. Is yours older?



LOLOL......wish I did have one like that, it would be worth a fortune on Antique Roadshow...
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Quoting EYEStoSEA:
Well, I rebooted....and now all there. Whew....but I really do need another PC...too many problems lately and this one is pretty old.



Here is a picture of mine and it works just fine. Is yours older?

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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


Thank You Keeper....that one is the "Best of the Rest"....and look at that dang squall line
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Well, I rebooted....and now all there. Whew....but I really do need another PC...too many problems lately and this one is pretty old.
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Quoting TomTaylor:


lol


Guess Geoff didn't think it was funny. Haven't seen him since.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26891
Quoting Grothar:


We often confuse the year we graduated high school with the current year, it happens to all of us.


lol
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Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Well...lol...there is not 1 visual on this page..no radar, sattelite,......come tomorrow I will buy me a new computer...tornado season is here! I know those are those Plymouth State Radars that Keeper is posting, but I have red X's.


I don't think it is your computer, just your settings are off. Do you know how to reset them in the "Tools bar"???
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26891
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Quoting Grothar:


What are you having a problem with? Maybe we can help


Well...lol...there is not 1 visual on this page..no radar, sattelite,......come tomorrow I will buy me a new computer...tornado season is here! I know those are those Plymouth State Radars that Keeper is posting, but I have red X's.
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Quoting EYEStoSEA:
I'm upset.....my visuals aren't loading.....just won't have it. Where are the tec people...


What are you having a problem with? Maybe we can help
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26891
"By the 1960s, at least half the states allowed prisoners to be used as medical guinea pigs.



Don Pedro Albizu Campos (June 29, 1893 or September 12, 1891 - April 21, 1965) was a Puerto Rican politician and one of the leading figures in the Puerto Rican independence movement.

The FBI files state that while in prison Albizu Campos' health deteriorated.[14] In 1956, he suffered a stroke in prison and was transferred to San Juan's Presbyterian Hospital under police guard.

He alleged that he was the subject of human radiation experiments in prison and stated that he could see colored rays bombarding him.
Officials suggested that Albizu was insane, although many doctors were able to examine Albizu and test for signs of radiation. The President of the Cuban Cancer Association, Dr. Orlando Damuy, traveled to PR to examine him. The burns on his body were reported by Dr. Damuy, where he diagnosed that they were the cause of intense radiation. It is said when they placed a metal paper clip with a film on Albizu's skin, the clip was radiated into the film. It is also said he did not receive any medical attention for five days and instead suffered. On November 15, 1964, Albizu was again pardoned by Munoz Marin. He died on April 21, 1965.


In 1994, under the administration of President Bill Clinton, the United States Department of Energy disclosed that human radiation "experiments" had in fact been conducted without consent on prisoners during the 1950s and 1970s. It has been alleged that Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos was among the subjects of such experimentation.[16]
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Quoting Grothar:


I have 12 great-great nieces and nephews, but I have only one great-great-great niece born today, or should I say yesterday.


Congratulations are in order :}....sorry I'm so wrapped up in my own issues ( red x's everywhere )
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I'm upset.....my visuals aren't loading.....just won't have it. Where are the tec people...
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Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Well kind sir, I dont have great, great, gggggreat nephews.....but I could have.....


I have 12 great-great nieces and nephews, but I have only one great-great-great niece born today, or should I say yesterday.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26891
Does anyone have link for video of the Hurricane Hunters Flying into to eye of the storm...It is set to the song - RIDERS ON THE STORM - probably '07 or '08
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Quoting Grothar:



....a coming????? Just how old are you. LOL


Well kind sir, I dont have great, great, gggggreat nephews.....but I could have.....
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Quoting EYEStoSEA:
This darn computer ! My visual comments all have big red X's on them.....and a "storms a coming"



....a coming????? Just how old are you. LOL
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26891
This darn computer ! My visual comments all have big red X's on them.....and a "storms a coming"
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Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26891
AP IMPACT: Past medical testing on humans revealed
By MIKE STOBBE, AP Medical Writer Mike Stobbe, Ap Medical Writer Sun Feb 27, 6:46 pm ET

Link


ATLANTA - Shocking as it may seem, U.S. government doctors once thought it was fine to experiment on disabled people and prison inmates. Such experiments included giving hepatitis to mental patients in Connecticut, squirting a pandemic flu virus up the noses of prisoners in Maryland, and injecting cancer cells into chronically ill people at a New York hospital.

Much of this horrific history is 40 to 80 years old, but it is the backdrop for a meeting in Washington this week by a presidential bioethics commission. The meeting was triggered by the government's apology last fall for federal doctors infecting prisoners and mental patients in Guatemala with syphilis 65 years ago.
U.S. officials also acknowledged there had been dozens of similar experiments in the United States studies that often involved making healthy people sick.
An exhaustive review by The Associated Press of medical journal reports and decades-old press clippings found more than 40 such studies. At best, these were a search for lifesaving treatments; at worst, some amounted to curiosity-satisfying experiments that hurt people but provided no useful results...


Who can guarantee this is not happening right now???
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563. Skyepony (Mod)
Another side of the fracking debate that is just now coming out..

Regulation Lax as Gas Wells’ Tainted Water Hits Rivers
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


I got 1939 and 2011 mixed up again.


We often confuse the year we graduated high school with the current year, it happens to all of us.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Gone With The Wind wins Best Picture!


I got 1939 and 2011 mixed up again.
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Australian Weather Radar

Link

Link

Link

Link
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Gone With The Wind wins Best Picture!
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11432
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9874

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.