|Home | Welcome | What's New | Site Map | Glossary | Weather Doctor Amazon Store | Book Store | Accolades | Email Us|
The Weather Doctor's Book Reviews
Extreme American Weather, the fourth book written by meteorologist Tim Vasquez, takes a different look at weather from his previous three volumes and a following fifth volume. In those other books, he provides detailed information on weather forecasting techniques, reading and interpreting weather maps and storm chasing. This volume focuses on previous extreme weather events in the United States from 1816 to 2000. Vasquez reminds us that: "Historic weather stories are engrained in American culture. We all remember where we were during the Storm of the Century and we've heard about the film and novel The Perfect Storm. . . . However it is often difficult to find anything on these weather events beyond anecdotal ‘human interest' stories."
Extreme American Weather features synopses of 26 weather events that have had a major impact on a region of the United States. All but the first event, the cold summer of 1816, is supported by synoptic maps for the period of interest. In connecting to the theme of his first books, Vasquez also provides twelve exercises in weather map analysis with solutions and discussions. These exercises cover unanalyzed historical events to broaden the readers understanding of specific aspects of extreme weather analyses.
As my readers know, I take a great interest in weather history, particularly looking back at past events that have had significant impacts on those affected. For the most part, my earlier writings focused more on the impacts on the people affected than the synoptic situation, in part because detailed synoptic information was not readily available. But a few years ago, the US National Weather Service has undertaken two projects of importance to the weather history buff. The first is the posting of all US daily weather maps from 1870 to the present; the second is the posting of all issues of Monthly Weather Review prior to the takeover of that publication by the American Meteorological Society. These two data sources hold invaluable information for describing the atmospheric conditions associated with extreme weather, and I have begun incorporating this information in my writings.
So too with Vasquez. In Extreme American Weather, he has used the US daily weather map series to provide the synoptic situation producing the 25 of the 26 weather events he describes. Each event has a summary description of the event and its impact, then a commentary on the atmospheric situation relevant to the event in question.
The author, however, has purposely drawn from a wide variety of extreme weather events and not focused solely on tornadoes, hurricanes and blizzards. Included in his choice of events are dust storms, cold waves, heat waves, and record high dew points, events that aren't remembered as well as their more "glamorous" cousins.
For anyone interested in American extreme weather and/or weather map analysis, Extreme American Weather is a must-have book for their bookshelf. Though it is brief in its description of the human factors the stories of most of these events are well-documented elsewhere it gives clear discussions of the state of the atmosphere precipitating the events. I found the maps used in the book very legible considering the reduction necessary to fit the large format maps on a book page.
Vasquez suggests that if this book is successful, he would produce future volumes looking at other American weather events. Since the book's last event, many other major weather events such as Hurricane Katrina and the incredible lake-effect snows of 2007 have occurred that cry for a similar analysis. I look forward to such future works.
Copies of the book may be ordered from the publisher: Weather Graphics Technologies, click here to access their website, or order Weather Forecasting Red Book from Amazon.com.
Extreme American Weather by Tim Vasquez, Weather Graphics Technologies, Austin TX, 2004, ISBN 0970684059, trade paperback, 136 pp.
Review written by
To Purchase Notecard,
Now Available! Order Today!
The BC Weather Book: