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The Weather Doctor's Book Reviews
Six years ago, I reviewed H. Michael Mogil's book Tornadoes, a book aimed at middle school readers but one I felt provided a good discussion of tornadoes for any older reader interested in an introduction to this weather phenomenon. Mogil's latest book Extreme Weather: Understanding the Science of Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Floods, Heat Waves, Snow Storms, Global Warming and Other Atmospheric Disturbances, the expands the subject matter beyond tornadoes to include hurricanes, thunderstorms, blizzards, floods, droughts, and more. Mogil also includes a chapter on climate change in which he asks us to view media stories linking extreme weather and climate change with a more critical eye.
When I picked the book up at the post office, I was on my way to my art group meeting, and it was there I opened the mailing package. Several of my fellow artists saw me thumbing through it and asked to see the volume. Before long, the colorful and interesting illustrations found throughout the book were the talk of the group, and several photographs were suggested as possible painting subjects. I concur with their visual assessment of Extreme Weather. Its variety of illustrations photographs, charts and explanatory diagrams make it a great book to have around to thumb through.
But the book goes further than striking illustrations. Mogil's explanatory text gives basic, well-written synopses of the cause and effect of the seventeen categories of extreme weather featured in the book. While readers well versed in the topics might find the material too basic for their level, for those with a new interest in weather or those wanting to know more about the extreme weather that fills media reports more and more each day, this is a good book to start the learning process.
In the final chapter on climate change, as well as comments made within other chapters, Mogil warns us to be cautious about claims by the media and others linking every period of bad weather to climate change and global warming. While I disagree with a few of Mogil's comments on climate change, I wholeheartedly concur with this statement. He like I, with the perspective of years of life and weather experience, understands that changes in public and government awareness, increases in population in previously rural areas, and improvements in observing technology have led to an increase in the reported incidences of extreme weather. The prime example of this is the tornado, both here in North America and also in countries around the world. I firmly believe that increases in the number of tornado reports are more the result of heightened awareness and detection programs (both through technological advances for detection and human observations) than overall changes in climate.
The one flaw in the current edition of this book is that in a number of cases, the editor's conversion of imperial units to metric is incorrect, particularly when the conversion is made between changes in temperature. As my devote readers will know, this is a particular hackle raiser for me. There is a fundamental difference between the conversion of absolute temperature and a temperature change between the two systems. An example from the book (bottom of page 12) states "across the cold front, the variation was 29oF (1.7oC)..." A temperature change of 29 F degrees (the proper unit) is converted to a C degree change by multiplying 29 by 5/9, giving 16.1 C degrees for the value in parentheses.
Florida-based H. Michael Mogil, a certified consulting meteorologist, has been practicing meteorology and educating students for more than 35 years. He served as consultant to the Discovery Channel's Weather Field Guide and has conducted dozens of teacher training workshops and graduate courses in meteorology. In Extreme Weather he brings that experience to a well-produced book on extreme weather. I would recommend it to anyone with a burgeoning interest in extreme weather.
Extreme Weather: Understanding the Science of Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Floods, Heat Waves, Snow Storms, Global Warming and Other Atmospheric Disturbances is the second book I have reviewed this year with the main title of Extreme Weather. The other is Extreme Weather: A Guide and Record Book by Christopher Burt. The two are complementary for the most part as the Burt book focuses more on extreme weather data and records, and Amazon bundles the two as a package option.
Extreme Weather: Understanding the Science of Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Floods, Heat Waves, Snow Storms, Global Warming and Other Atmospheric Disturbances by H. Michael Mogil,
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