Books about Weather

**under construction - reviews will be added gradually**

Hurricanes: specific

[unnamed hurricane - 1893]
The Great Sea Island Storm of 1893
William and Fran Marscher
c. 2003

[The Galveston Hurricane - 1900]
Isaac's Storm
Erik Larson
c. 1999

[The Galveston Hurricane - 1900]A Weekend in September
 John Edward Weems
c. 1957

[The Labor Day Hurricane - 1935]
Storm of the Century
Willie Drye
c. 2002

[The Great Hurricane of 1938]
Sudden Sea
R. A. Scotti 
c. 2003 

[Hurricane Janet - 1955]
David Toomey
c. 2002

[Hurricane Audrey - 1957]
Hurricane Audrey
Cathy C. Post
c. 2007

[Hurricane Camille - 1969]
Roar of the Heavens
Stefan Bechtel
c. 2006

[Hurricane Camille - 1969] 
Hurricane Camille
Phillip D. Hearn
c. 2004

[The "Halloween Gale" - 1991]
The Perfect Storm
Sebastian Junger
c. 1997

[Hurricane Mitch - 1998]
The Ship and the Storm
Jim Carrier    c. 2001

The Ship and the Storm follows the pattern set by the now classic The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger. Yet again we have a ship, the s/v Fantome, on a collision course with a deadly storm. Hurricane Mitch was a confusing hurricane from the outset. There were no clear steering patterns aloft and it meandered around the Caribbean. The National Hurricane Center was dealing with highly conflicting forecast models. Mitch simply wasn't following the typical path of hurricanes originating in the Caribbean in October. Not only was it deviating from the forecast track, it was deviating in intensity models, exploding into a historic category 5 hurricane. However, it made landfall as only a category 1 storm. What made Mitch so deadly was its speed - SLOW - and its tremendous rainfall. The majority of the deaths were on land, in Honduras, from unimaginable flooding and mudslides. Over 19,000 people were killed, over 14,000 of them in Honduras. There are unofficial reports of up to 75 inches of rain in the mountains. The Ship and the Storm is primarily about the ill-fated Fantome, but a decent amount of attention is given to the impact in the Yucatan. An exciting read, recommended.

Path of Hurricane Mitch

Hurricanes: general

Hurricane Watch: Forecasting the Deadliest Storms on Earth
Dr. Bob Sheets and Jack Williams    c. 2001
(also contains account of Hurricane Andrew)

This book details the history of hurricane forecasting from the folkloric signs of a hurricane's approach to the development of computer forecasting models. It is set primarily in the U.S. but with a nice background on Cuba as well. Some basic science of hurricane genesis is included. A particular emphasis is given to Hurricane Andrew (1992) since it made landfall very near the National Hurricane Center in Coral Gables, Florida. Dr. Bob Sheets, former director, was on staff when Andrew came ashore and so gives a gripping personal account. The National Hurricane Center itself sustained major damage and loss of communications during the storm and was rebuilt to be more "hurricane proof" afterward. Several appendices are included with statistical tables, etc. Very nicely written and complete. Recommended.

Path of Hurricane Andrew

Hurricanes of the Gulf of Mexico
Barry D. Keim and Robert A. Muller    c. 2009

This is an excellent compilation of hurricanes either originating in the Gulf or making landfall along its coasts. Oodles of maps, charts, graphs, tables, you name it, are included making this a fun book for people who like to stare at charts for a while! The Gulf Coast is divided into strike zones and the hurricanes which made landfall at each strike zone are discussed. There is a chapter on memorable hurricanes (including the obvious contenders) and a chapter about how the Gulf of Mexico specifically influences hurricane growth and paths. The usual obligatory hurricane science is included. Impacts of hurricanes specifically in the Gulf are discussed including that on oil and gas wells and refineries and evacuation issues. Small individual chapters are included on the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 and Hurricane Katrina (2005) because of their associated large loss of life. An excellent book especially if you live on the Gulf coast. Recommended.

Tornadoes: specific

[The Tri-State Tornado - 1925]
The Forgotten Storm
Wallace Akin
c. 2002

[The Ruskin Heights Tornado - 1957]
Caught in the Path
Carolyn Glenn Brewer
c. 1997

A World Turned Over
Lorian Hemingway    c. 2002

A World Turned Over is notable not just for the narrative of the Candlestick Park tragedy, but for its literary merit. Lorian Hemingway is a granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway and apparently inherited his talent. This is not only the story of an EF5 tornado, but the story of a place and a time. Having grown up in the south myself I had almost visceral reactions to her descriptions. Ms. Hemingway lived in this neighborhood of south Jackson, MS, her house very close to the tornado's path, for several years before moving away. Shortly after she moved the tornado struck. She knew the people killed, the businesses destroyed. Many years later she traveled back to Jackson to talk to people involved who still lived there, to see if she could see the scars left by the tornado. Her story is as much a coming home story as a storm narrative. Few books describe the emotional impact a tornado can have more than this one. Highly recommended.

(path of tornado (the one on the left) - click to enlarge)

[The Super-outbreak of 1974]
Mark Levine
c. 2007

Eyes in a Storm
Jessica Gregg McNew   c. 2003

I remember this tornado clearly. I wasn't physically affected by it, but I remember most of the state of Alabama being under tornado warnings that day as I cleaned out the one interior room (a closet) in our house. We lived in a fairly flimsy, old house and I was thinking that if a tornado got anywhere near us we'd be dust. My husband didn't want to drive up the road to the monastery and head into their basement library yet so I cleaned out the closet just in case. We had the television on so we could watch the weather station out of Birmingham and the meteorologist (James Spann, I think) was giving out one warning after another. The map of the state looked like red paint had splashed on it. We heard word of a tornado - "a monster" - on the ground west of Birmingham. I started praying for all the people in the path. Even as it was still on the ground we started hearing of massive destruction. 32 people died in this tornado but that number is amazing for its small size given the total devastation the EF5 tornado caused. Eyes in a Storm is the story of individuals and communities affected by this killer tornado. It's not a long book, only about 100 pages, but it captures the feeling of "being on the ground" quite well. The longer-term recovery and long-lasting effects are also covered in the book. Interspersed with the narrative is a discussion of tornadic history in Alabama and the difficulties of adequate warning in a state which is hilly, rural, highly populated by mobile homes and which tends to get hit after dark. Recommended.

(path of tornado - click to enlarge)

[the 1999 Oklahoma Tornado Outbreak]
Storm Warning
Nancy Mathis
c. 2007

Tornadoes: general

Tornadoes of the United States
Snowden D. Flora
c. 1953

A History of Alabama's Deadliest Tornadoes
Kelly Kazek    c. 2010

Exactly what the title says. Covers the time period from 1908 starting with the Dixie Super Outbreak in 1908 to 1998 although a few mentions of earlier tornadoes are included as well. Contains an explanation of the peculiar difficulties of tornado forecasting and warning in Alabama. Good for rounding out your collection if you are interested in southeastern storms and for gathering information on less-publicized storms.

Scanning the Skies: A History of Tornado Forecasting
Marlene Bradford
c. 2001

Big Weather: Chasing Tornadoes in the Heart of America
Mark Svenvold
c. 2005

Tornado Alley: Monster Storms of the Great Plains
Howard B. Bluestein
c. 1999

Twister: The Science of Tornadoes and the Making of an Adventure Movie
Keay Davidson
c. 1996


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