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MSE Creative Consulting Blog: Reader Comments About “Warnings”

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Earlier this week, I received a comment from a reader that I wish to pass along.

Given the extensive damage from Hurricane Isaias and Monday’s derecho, Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather is more timely than ever. In the past, both storms would likely have caused double-digit fatalities. Thanks to the warning system, the death toll Isaias from was just 9, and from the derecho, zero.

Warnings tells the story of how we warn of derechos, tornadoes, hurricanes and other violent storm.

The most recent review at “Goodreads” sums things up:

Smith has a huge arsenal of weather events to describe, and he chooses carefully. Some tornadoes are those that affected him personally, but some events, particularly the hurricanes, are life-changing events in the history of storm prediction. In particular, his account of the numerous failings around Hurricane Katrina, committed by everyone except the meteorologists, is well done. Obviously, he cannot get into the many layers of problems before, during, and after Katrina, but his job is not to address all of those. He simply has a few chapters to discuss the science and remind the reader that the best science in the world can’t overcome horrible bureaucracy.

The book ends beautifully by demonstrating how far we’ve come with forecasting and the ability to save lives, the foundation of all forecasting work. Smith chooses the ferocious, although relatively not well-known (outside meteorology communities), Greensburg tornado to show how the advances in science have saved many lives. While the 1999 Bridge Creek-Moore tornado was perhaps even more of a celebration when comparing population to death toll, Smith makes good use of the facts around Greensburg to perfectly compare it to the earlier, much deadlier, yet otherwise very similar Udall tornado.

Smith has a lot to say in this area, and he says it well. I’d love to have a chat with him about the gaps we have in shelter access now that we’ve come so far in warnings, especially post-Joplin and the 2013 Moore tragedy.

If you are looking for an inspiring and uplifting book about storms, may I suggest you take a look at Warnings? Thank you!!

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