Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:54 PM GMT on December 18, 2007
Storm Chaser: A Photographer's Journey ($23.10 from Amazon) takes the reader on a spectacular photographic journey through the U.S., documenting four seasons of our beautiful and violent weather. Author Jim Reed makes a business of weather photography, and has spent over 15 years chasing storms and documenting their awesome beauty and violent destructive power. The 191-page book would make a perfect Christmas coffee table book for that weather enthusiast (yourself?) in the family, and has great photos of tornadoes, hurricanes, hailstorms, blizzards, sunsets, and lightning. The book is mostly photos, but there are several riveting stories Reed tells. Most captivating is the story of his encounter with Category 4 Hurricane Charley as it pounded Punta Gorda, Florida in 2004. Reed miscalculated his time needed to get to shelter, and got caught in his vehicle on the road in the eyewall. Luckily, his videotaped farewell for mother and friends done during the height of the storm was not needed, as he was able to find shelter during the 4-minute passage of the eye. Reed also braved Hurricane Katrina from the beach front, and tells an abbreviated version of his dramatic encounter with the hurricane from Gulfport, Mississippi. I also recommend Hurricane Katrina Through the Eyes of Storm Chasers ($14.96 from Amazon) to read the full tale of his Katrina experience.
Storm Chaser: A Photographer's Journey has a few flaws. The quality of the writing is not quite as high as that of my favorite storm chaser book, the now dated 1996 Warren Faidley book, Storm Chaser: In pursuit of untamed skies (no longer in print, but available used). Reed's text doesn't match up with the photos presented on the pages in places, and he makes a number of unwarranted connections between global warming and extreme weather events. For example, he blames the June 22, 2003 fall of volley ball-sized hailstones in Aurora, Kansas on global warming. No single weather event can be attributed to climate change--all we can say is that the probabilities of some extreme weather events have increased. For example, the incidence of extreme precipitation events (the heaviest 1% of rain storms) has increased 20% over the U.S. in recent decades. No scientific papers have been published showing a link between tornadoes or hailstorms and climate change. That quibble aside, I heartily recommend Storm Chaser: A Photographer's Journey. The photos are fantastic. Three and a half stars out of four.
Best weather books published in 2007
Storm Chaser: A Photographer's Journey ($23.10 from Amazon).
Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming by Chris Mooney ($17.16 from Amazon). See the realclimate.org review. I'll be posting a review of my own at some point.
Extreme Weather: A Guide and Record Book by Christopher Burt ($17.13 from Amazon). I hope to review this book soon.
Hurricane Almanac by Bryan Norcross ($11.04 from Amazon). See my review of the book.
Storm Warning: the Story of a Killer Tornado by Nancy Mathis ($16.32 from Amazon). See my review of the book.
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