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Storm Watchers: The Turbulent History of Weather Prediction from Franklin's Kite to El Niño

Storm Watchers: The Turbulent History of Weather Prediction from Franklin's Kite to El Niño

John D. Cox

ISBN: 978-0-471-44486-2 November 2002 252 Pages




A lively, inspiring account of the pioneers who sought toaccurately predict the weather

Benjamin Franklin . . . James P. Espy . . . Cleveland Abbe . . .Carl-Gustaf Rossby . . . Jule G. Charney . . . just a few of theremarkable individuals who struggled against formidable odds tounderstand the atmosphere and predict the weather. Where they sawpatterns and processes, others saw randomness and tumult-and yetthey strove to make their voices heard, often saving lives in theprocess.

Storm Watchers takes you on a fascinating journey through time thatcaptures the evolution of weather forecasting. From the age whenmeteorology was considered one step removed from sorcery to themodern-day wizardry of supercomputers, John Cox introduces you tothe pioneering scientists whose work fulfilled an ancient dream andmade it possible to foretell the future. He tells the little-knownstories of these weathermen, such as Ptolemy's weather predictionsbased on astrology, John Finley's breakthrough research inidentifying tornadoes, and Tor Bergeron's new techniques of weatherforecasting, which contributed to its final worldwideacceptance.

Filled with extraordinary tales of bravery and sacrifice, StormWatchers will make you think twice the next time you turn on thelocal news to catch the weather report.

PART I: A Newborn Babe.

1. Benjamin Franklin: Chasing the Wind.

2. Luke Howard: Naming the Clouds.

3. James Glaisher: Taking to the Air.

PART II: American Storms.

4. William C. Redfield: Walking the Path of Destruction.

5. James P. Espy: "The Storm Breeder".

6. Elias Loomis: Mapping the Storm.

7. Joseph Henry: Setting the Stage.

8. Matthew Fontaine Maury: A Storm of Controversy.

9. William Ferrel: A Shy Genius.

PART III: The Main Artery.

10. Robert FitzRoy: Prophet Without Honor.

11. Urbain J. J. Le Verrier: Clouds over Crimea.

12. Cleveland Abbe: "Ol' Probabilities".

13. John P. Finley: Down Tornado Alley.

14. Mark W. Harrington: Civilian Casualty.

15. Isaac Monroe Cline: Taking Galveston by Storm.

16. Gilbert Walker: The Southern Oscillation.

17. C. LeRoy Meisinger: Death by Daring.

PART IV: Together at the Front.

18. Vilhelm Bjerknes: The Bergen Schoolmaster.

19. Lewis Fry Richardson: The Forecasting Factory.

20. Jacob Bjerknes: From Polar Front to El Ni?o.

21. Tor Bergeron: A Gifted Vision.

22. Carl-Gustaf Rossby: Conquering the Weather Bureau.

23. Sverre Petterssen: Forecasting for D-Day.

PART V: Suddenly New Science.

24. Jule Gregory Charney: Mastering the Math.

25. Jerome Namias: The Long Ranger.

26. Edward N. Lorenz: Calculating Chaos.

27. Tetsuya Theodore Fujita: Divining the Downburst.

28. Ants Leetmaa: Out on a Limb.


"A fascinating volume in which John D. Cox looks at both thescience and the personalities of the men who made modernmeteorology." (The Associated Press)

"...a fascinating volume in which John D. Cox looks both atthe science and personality of the men who made modernmeteorology..." (The Associated Press, 14 October 2002)

"...This lively, inspiring account reveals thecourage and bravery of the early weather pioneers..."(, 15 May 2003)