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 twincomanche:


Nice job of name calling.


Thank you. In the words of a very wise American:

"Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions."

--Thomas Jefferson

Speaking of ridicule: I see that Fox News' Roger Ailes may just be indicted this week.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13474
Wow it's suppose to be 70 degress on Monday,but of course when it's unusually warm for a certain part of the year,a price comes.We'll be get our fair share of server weather here.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16456
we got 3 sunspots heading our way. 1164 looks a bit on the large side.
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I miss eating seafood....
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I've been outta the loop lately. What happened to JB?
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 553
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Quoting hydrus:
"I guess I better have another cup of Coffee", and see what happens next............More rain?...Water-proof sand paper and varnish?..no?...maybe?..Morning Pott..:)
That area of low pressure to the very top right of the screen looks interesting.Could it become subtropical in nature?.We'll see.I'll be keeping an eye on it.
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"By day three (01 March), geomagnetic activity is expected to increase to quiet to unsettled levels due to the onset of a recurrent coronal hole high speed stream."

Well that cant be good.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
www.solarcycle24.com


Sunspot Regions and Magnetic Loops by SDO (Saturday)





Prepared jointly by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA,
Space Weather Prediction Center and the U.S. Air Force.
Updated 2011 Feb 26 2200 UTC

Joint USAF/NOAA Report of Solar and Geophysical Activity
SDF Number 057 Issued at 2200Z on 26 Feb 2011

IA. Analysis of Solar Active Regions and Activity from 25/2100Z
to 26/2100Z: Solar activity was low due to a single C1 x-ray event
from Region 1164 (N28E60) observed at 26/0813Z. The region continues
to rotate onto the disk and is currently classified as a D-type spot
group with a complicated beta-gamma magnetic configuration. Region
1163 (N18E46) exhibited little change during the period producing
several moderate to high-level B-class events. New Region 1165
(S22E43) emerged on the disk as a simple bi-polar spot group and was
quiet and stable.

IB. Solar Activity Forecast: Solar activity is expected to be at
low levels for the next three days (27 - 28 February and 01 March).
A chance for M-class activity exists all three days from both
Regions 1163 and 1164.

IIA. Geophysical Activity Summary 25/2100Z to 26/2100Z:
The geomagnetic field was at quiet levels.

IIB. Geophysical Activity Forecast: The geomagnetic field is
expected to be at predominately quiet levels for days one and two of
the forecast period (27 - 28 February). By day three (01 March),
geomagnetic activity is expected to increase to quiet to unsettled
levels due to the onset of a recurrent coronal hole high speed
stream.

III. Event Probabilities 27 Feb-01 Mar
Class M 35/35/35
Class X 01/01/01
Proton 01/01/01
PCAF Green

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
looks like some more action movin across our sun
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Quoting Patrap:
At the same time many sections of the bill actually forbid government agencies from even studying climate change - a leading contributor to Louisiana's coastal crises. Once again this isn't saving money; it's just another nod to industries that don't want to clean up their acts.

Leaders of the most prominent sportsmen's conservation groups were disbelieving when they read the final version of the bill. After all, many of these Republicans claim to be friends of sportsmen. Yet this bill not only attempts to blindfold and gag government agencies designed to protect fish, wildlife and us, it swings an axe at industries that actually are net gains for the treasury.




Well,,America got what it wanted last November..

Congrats.

WUnderful.

Maybe Dr. Jeff Masters and some others in the Bizz will bark maybe a tad over this Bill.

Maybe.

Dunno.

We shall see.

We need voices of reason to stop this insane Bill.



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Quoting overwash12:
If all the ice in the Antarctic were to melt they say it would raise the ocean by approx. 197 feet.   


Not really likely to happen though thank goodness. Sea ice may break records this summer though :o
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If all the ice in the Antarctic were to melt they say it would raise the ocean by approx. 197 feet.   
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Complete Update





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Further evidence of a warming planet (as if any more is needed by scientists, or as if any amount will convince those silly anti-science denialists): Antarctica's Wilkins runway--carved out of solid ice just three years ago by Australia at a cost of $46 million--has melted so much from above-average temperatures this summer that it's now unusable until the southern hemisphere winter and will need to be abandoned in favor of a new runway (costing even more) being planned for farther south.

A runway. Out of solid ice. In Antarctica. Melting.

Incredible.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13474
Quoting Patrap:
Many sections of the bill forbid government agencies from studying climate change - a leading contributor to Louisiana's coastal crises. Above, wetlands just south of New Orleans on Oct. 4.

House Republicans are cutting a lot more than the deficit
Published: Sunday, February 27, 2011, 4:44 AM


Last November Americans demanded that Congress take immediate action to shrink fish and wildlife populations, speed the end of duck hunting, reduce the safety of our drinking water, destroy more wetlands, dirty the air we breathe, increase the rate of sea level rise swamping our coast- and protect profits for oil companies.

Didn't know that?

Then you haven't been listening to Republicans like our own Steve Scalise (R-Jefferson) and Tea Partiers who now control the House of Representatives. All those changes are included in the budget resolution they sent to the Senate last week.

I know, I know. They say it's all about Americans' No. 1 concern - cutting the deficit. And we all have to suffer to achieve that goal.

Two problems with those claims.

First, polls taken during and after that election show voters' top concern was job creation, not the deficit. And, as you'll see, these cuts will cost jobs and the treasury money.

Second, the pain isn't spread evenly. The public properties that support hunting, fishing and public health are being clubbed while the industries that profit from those resources are getting not just a free pass - they're being given an open door to do as they please. Many provisions in the bill don't cut funds, just order federal agencies not to do their jobs.

This isn't just about the deficit. It's about using the back door to push an anti-environment, pro-business agenda most Americans don't support. And sportsmen will pay the biggest price.

At the risk of ruining your Sunday, I urge you to read the entire list.

Here are just a few samples:

The entire $47.6 million budget for the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund would be cut. This program has protected and preserved more than 25 million acres of waterfowl habitat over the last 30 years, leveraging over $2 billion in matching contributions from some 4,000 partners.

At the same time, Sec. 1747 of the bill states: "None of the funds made available by this division or any other Act may be used by the Environmental Protection Agency to implement, administer, or enforce a change to a rule or guidance document pertaining to the definition of waters under the jurisdiction of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et 18 seq)."

That section has nothing to do with saving money. It's simply rolling back wetlands protections at the behest of several industries that support your congressmen.

Dale Hall, head of Ducks Unlimited, says those provisions could deal a death blow to duck hunting by leaving the prairie pothole region - the continent's duck factory - unprotected.

Passed amendments to House continuing resolution

Another example:

Many sections of the bill would prevent the EPA from enforcing any laws that restrict carbon pollution. Little or no savings would be realized, but the primary cause of the sea level rise swamping what's left of our coast will go unaddressed.

At the same time the bill does not reduce the $36 billion in tax breaks to be handed to the oil industry over the next decade, or close the loophole in offshore royalty payments costing the nation billions.

You shouldn't be surprised to learn big oil - one our most profitable yet heavily subsidized industries - doesn't want to give up its freebies, and also has opposed carbon legislation.

Another example:

The bill would cut funding for the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program by $200,000, a vital initiative that has already lost more than $100,000 in state funding recently. Kerry St. Pe, who runs the program, says "it definitely means some restoration projects just won't happen - even though we're still losing wetlands at the same rate (25 square miles per year)."

At the same time many sections of the bill actually forbid government agencies from even studying climate change - a leading contributor to Louisiana's coastal crises. Once again this isn't saving money; it's just another nod to industries that don't want to clean up their acts.

Leaders of the most prominent sportsmen's conservation groups were disbelieving when they read the final version of the bill. After all, many of these Republicans claim to be friends of sportsmen. Yet this bill not only attempts to blindfold and gag government agencies designed to protect fish, wildlife and us, it swings an axe at industries that actually are net gains for the treasury.

"The federal government spends about $5 billion a year in conservation programs that are essential to the habitat that supports hunting and fishing, but it gets back about $14 billion in direct tax payments from people who make their livings in those industries - and that's a conservative estimate," DU's Hall said.

"This makes no sense. Yes, we need to cut, but we need to do it intelligently. And we have to look everywhere."

The deck is clearly stacked against fish, wildlife and sportsmen. The nation's most prominent sportsmen's groups - from Ducks Unlimited to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation have already fired off letters to the powers that be.

And they are urging all sportsmen to tell their congress people they won't stand for the two-fisted attack on our traditions.
Related topics: bob marshall


And sadly, that's just the tip of the iceberg. They slashes go deep across science in general, as well as environment and infrastructure. Education is also being cut. Go team go. Hoorah.

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Quoting pottery:
Good Morning...
Well, the rain is back this morning. What is going ON ????. 6.5" so far for the month at my location. Plenty more in other areas.. The 10-year average is .75".
I have 'outside' tasks to perform, and they are on hold. (sanding and varnishing 2 new beds that I made this week).
I guess I better have another cup of Coffee , and see what happens next.
"I guess I better have another cup of Coffee", and see what happens next............More rain?...Water-proof sand paper and varnish?..no?...maybe?..Morning Pott..:)
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At the same time many sections of the bill actually forbid government agencies from even studying climate change - a leading contributor to Louisiana's coastal crises. Once again this isn't saving money; it's just another nod to industries that don't want to clean up their acts.

Leaders of the most prominent sportsmen's conservation groups were disbelieving when they read the final version of the bill. After all, many of these Republicans claim to be friends of sportsmen. Yet this bill not only attempts to blindfold and gag government agencies designed to protect fish, wildlife and us, it swings an axe at industries that actually are net gains for the treasury.




Well,,America got what it wanted last November..

Congrats.

WUnderful.

Maybe Dr. Jeff Masters and some others in the Bizz will bark maybe a tad over this Bill.

Maybe.

Dunno.

We shall see.

We need voices of reason to stop this insane Bill.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
if seasonal pattern holds that we have been having to take us into the spring the entire region from lower lakes south and then east will be prime ground this severe season
We still have a lot of clean up to do and it is thunder and rain since early this morning. We have a high wind advisory and a chance of severe storms until tomorrow afternoon.....There is a chance of trees falling on the branches we havent had a chance to pick up yet..
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I think that the year analog year to 2011 will be...1916!(look at wikipedia),imo 2011 can be similar to that
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Quoting P451:
Looking pretty bad, Keeper.

Seems more confidence in this storm producing severe weather than the last one.

Looks like those of us in the northern mid-atlantic and the Hudson Valley into southern New England stand a better chance at also getting Thunderstorms.

Last system the convection only got into Central NJ where it did an absolute number on several towns.

Up here the Hudson Valley kept on the cold side - seems we'll get the warm sector. Eager to see it. Still snow on the ground haven't seen ground since December LOL. Growing a bit tired of that!
if seasonal pattern holds that we have been having to take us into the spring the entire region from lower lakes south and then east will be prime ground this severe season
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Good Morning...
Well, the rain is back this morning. What is going ON ????. 6.5" so far for the month at my location. Plenty more in other areas.. The 10-year average is .75".
I have 'outside' tasks to perform, and they are on hold. (sanding and varnishing 2 new beds that I made this week).
I guess I better have another cup of Coffee, and see what happens next.
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324. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Tropical Cyclone Warning Center Perth
Tropical Cyclone Advice #11
TROPICAL LOW 18U
9:00 PM WST February 27 2011
========================================

At 8:00 pm WST, Tropical Low (992 hPa) located at 17.1S 123.5E, or about 25 km north northwest of Derby and 165 km northeast of Broome has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots with gusts of 45 knots. The low is reported as moving south at 7 knots.

The low has recently moved south into King Sound and is forecast to adopt a more southwesterly track in the next 24 to 48 hours. It may develop into a tropical cyclone during Tuesday if it moves back over water. GALES are not expected in coastal areas within the next 24 hours, however GALES could develop on Tuesday between Cape Leveque and Whim Creek if the system moves back over water.

HEAVY RAINFALL is expected on the Dampier Peninsula north of Broome until early Monday. On Monday and Tuesday heavy rainfall is likely to develop to the south of the system, including Telfer and parts of the De Grey and Fortescue River catchments.

Tropical Cyclone Watches/Warnings
================================
A Cyclone WATCH is current for a developing tropical low for coastal areas from Cape Leveque to Whim Creek.

The next tropical cyclone advice from Perth Tropical Cyclone Warning Center on Tropical Low 18U will be issued at 19:00 PM UTC..
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Quoting Grothar:


The everglades is actually a river, as you know, not just a swamp. It is called a river of grass.





Looking at those pictures made me terribly homesick..I was glad to see them though..:)
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Quoting Neapolitan:

Here in Naples we've had a daytime seabreeze front with associated showers twice in the past week. I don't know that it's unheard of, but it's certainly not anything I remember seeing in February before.

The high at my house--I'm a few miles inland--was 88 today. Nice...


wow crazy stuff indeed! I love the warm weather though, I'm not complaining! Even the next cold frontal passage will still be followed by above normal temperatures, lol
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7310
Quoting Grothar:


HEY! I'm a Floridian.


And that changes the statement how :)
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Quoting EYEStoSEA:
I know....just send me the leftovers COD....I know you have some...


Wish I did. We were at our friends home. Unfortunately the Scandinavians think it is gauche to ask for a doggie bag. I wish I could have filled up the car with plastic bags. No pride here.
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Well guys and gals, I'm going to bed before I raid the fridge...enjoyed the chat :)
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Quoting Orcasystems:


The statement would have been true even without the bold part :)


HEY! I'm a Floridian.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
You floridians are very strange...when it comes to pets.


The statement would have been true even without the bold part :)
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I know....just send me the leftovers COD....I know you have some...
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You floridians are very strange...when it comes to pets.
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Quoting Grothar:


This is what Swedish meatsballs should look like. Normally served with lingonberry sauce, which is prized by the Swedes. This variety is only found in the bogs of Northern Sweden. The Norwegians are quite notorious in sneaking over the border and stealing them, much to the dismay of the Swedes. The Swedes call them Tyttebaer. No two households make them the same.



Boy...I'm starving now....the ones I had didnt look anything like that !
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Quoting caneswatch:


I've heard of stories like these.

Now i'm off. I've got a breakfast to go to in the morning. Night y'all.


It's about time. Take care, Canes.
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I think I ran xcool away....sorry....I'm a little hyper tonight....as if you couldn't tell....
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Quoting Grothar:


When I was younger, before moving to Europe, it was common for kids in Florida to keep Caymans as pets. I had a few of them. They would follow me outside and walk with me. They were very small of course.




I've heard of stories like these.

Now i'm off. I've got a breakfast to go to in the morning. Night y'all.
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553

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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.