The Oregon Weather Book:
The Climate of Oregon:
I review these two books together because they combine to form a unit and share the lead author George R. Taylor, the State Climatologist of Oregon. Both The Oregon Weather Book: A State of Extremes and The Climate of Oregon: From Rain Forest to Desert are well-written and well-illustrated books with a style that fits into an academic style weighing more heavy on scientific material rather than combining science with personal commentary by the author. As a result, these two volumes will find greatest use as reference books. That is not to say, however, that they are not interesting reads.
I enjoyed the layout of The Oregon Weather Book, particularly in its use of small state maps that accompany the listings of significant weather events. They helped place geographically the region of the state to which the capsule summary pertained. For those not familiar with Oregon towns and regions, this saved a jump back to map to search for the mentioned towns.
The background meteorological conditions causing various weather phenomena were well described and placed into the context of the West Coastwhich follows a different character than middle-America storm systems which usually are described in weather books. The chapter "Tips for Amateur Weather Forecasters" did not live up to my initial expectations, however. Its sudden shift from science to animal folklore had me scratching my head.
The Climate of Oregon is mainly a catalogue of Oregon climate normals (the latest, 1971-2000 version) used to describe the nine distinct climate zones of the state. I found most interesting and informative the set of climate "maps" presented. Oregon has a wide range of climate conditions within its varied and rugged topography, similar to my British Columbia home, which makes isoplethed maps of climate data dubious at best compared to similar analyses of Kansas or Michigan. These maps in The Climate of Oregon are special computer-generated maps using sophisticated techniques that account for terrain variations.
The Climate of Oregon is a book like an almanac or book of world records that will more likely be browsed rather than read from cover to cover. Unfortunately, that may cause those who pick up the book to miss the most interesting part of the book Part 6: Special Topics. On reading this section, I wished the book had been written closer to my reading date to include what has recently happened to longer term cycles such as El Niño and longer-term (20-25 year) wet-dry cycles. (The information is, of course, up to date for the date of writing.) Several of these cycles appeared to be entering new phases as the century turned and may be manifesting in the conditions we are seeing today.
The book also has a very good discussion of what "climate normals" are, but unfortunately it is hidden in the Appendix which may be unread by some. I would have placed this material in the introductory sections as there is a great deal of misunderstanding of that word "normal."
Overall, are well worth adding to a library of regional climatology books or a library shelf focussing on the great state of Oregon. Given the choice of reading only one of the books, I would chose The Oregon Weather Book, but if data summaries of state or regional climates are your special interest, then The Climate of Oregon is the obvious choice. I would purchase them both together as they complement each other.
Weather Doctor's Book Review: The Oregon Weather Book: A State of Extremes and The Climate of Oregon: From Rain Forest to Desert ©2003, Keith C. Heidorn, PhD. All Rights Reserved.
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