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The Tornado: Nature’s Ultimate Windstorm [Paperback]

Thomas P. Grazulis

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Book Description

April 1 2003

Tornadoes occur in every state in the Union, and each region of the nation has its unique "tornado season." The most intense tornadoes can carry automobiles a half-mile and level a well built home. Some tornadoes have crossed mountains, seemingly unimpeded. Some have lasted more than an hour, scouring the earth with wind speeds of 250 miles per hour. Nor are tornadoes unique to the United States. In Bangladesh, for example, they have killed a thousand people in a single swath.

Filled with dramatic accounts of tornado touchdowns, this book addresses the whirlwind of questions surrounding the phenomenon of the tornado. How often does a tornado hit a particular location? How fast are the winds? Do tornadoes really seek out trailer parks? Can they actually defeather a chicken? How many tornadoes hit the United States every year? How big can tornadoes grow?

Thomas P. Grazulis, a tornado research meteorologist and founder of the Tornado Project, has been a consultant for television specials, including Cyclone (National Geographic), Target Tornado (The Weather Channel), Forces of Nature (CBS), and others, helping provide answers to these questions for the general public. Here he sets the record straight about tornado risk, the Fujita Scale, and the number of tornadoes occurring annually. He also sheds light on misconceptions and contradictory theories about tornadoes. Recreating the incredible drama so often accompanying interactions between people and tornadoes, The Tornado: Nature’s Ultimate Windstorm provides detailed meteorological and statistical information on these marvels of nature, among the most fascinating scientific puzzles on the planet.

"At about 4:25 P.M. on June 9 [1953], fishermen on the north end of the Quabbin Reservoir in western Massachusetts watched as an unusual boiling and tumbling cloud took the form of an enormous, revolving cylinder. Minutes later the end of the cylinder reached down like an enormous finger and trees began to snap in the woods of Petersham. . . . For the next eighty-four minutes, that funnel would cut a damage swath of unprecedented size and intensity in the northeastern United States. People died in the open, in cars, in lakes, and under homes in what would be called the Worcester tornado. It lifted and carried tons of debris eastward; tar paper, shingles, sheet metal, and plywood rained down onto two dozen towns in eastern Massachusetts. . . . Photographs and a piece of waterlogged, frozen mattress were found floating in the Atlantic Ocean. Trousers with a wallet were taken from the second floor of a home in Shrewsbury and dropped in Westwood, 25 miles east-southeast. . . . A Social Security card was returned to its owner from Hyannis on Cape Cod, 90 miles southeast of Worcester."--from the Preface


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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

What causes tornadoes? How accurately can they be predicted? How large can they grow? The University of Oklahoma Press indulges the curiosity of those fascinated by these whirling scourges in two books. In The Tornado: Nature's Ultimate Windstorm, meteorologist Thomas P. Grazulis authoritatively conveys the science and thrill of tornadoes. His stories of "storm-chasing" and stats about "Individual Tornadoes Causing $200 Million or More in 1999 Inflation-Adjusted Damage" lend weight and immediacy to his accessible book.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Thomas P. Grazulis is Director of the Tornado Project and Fellow of the American Meteorological Society.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
On May 25, 1932, on a northwestern Kansas farm just south of the Nebraska border, John Newport looked to the west and saw storm clouds building. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the read and packed with understandable info Aug. 9 2006
By J. Knox - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I wanted a book for by granddaughter who is 10 and who had expressed an interested in tornadoes. It was, perhaps, a little above her level, however it can be read in parts. I ended up reading the entire thing before I could let go of it to send it on. Puts the tornado,the incidence of seeing one, and the likelihood of experiencing damage all into perspective. Knocks down the myths of tornadoes, when, where and what they strike. A must for any library on meteorology. Sufficient statistics and hard science to satisfy even the already knowledgeable storm chaser.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Geg 105 Review May 10 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
The Tornado: Nature's Ultimate Windstorm by Thomas P. Grazulis is an easy to read book that discusses and analyzes almost every aspect of tornadoes. The book covers all the basics about tornadoes, including the highly complicated process of tornado formation, forecasting, historical aspects of tornadoes, as well as major tornadic events of the past, safety, climatology/frequency, international frequency and major events, the Fujita scale, myths and storm chasing. He introduces most chapters with stories of past tornadoes, which adds interest to a potentially uninteresting subject. He clearly states the facts about tornadoes and doesn't sensationalize any aspect of them. Grazulis uses only the facts to inform the reader, and he disproves many tornado myths along the way.
This book is a comprehensive, easy to understand guide about tornadoes, accessible even to the non-scientist! Grazulis is clearly well researched, as he shares his abundant knowledge and passion for tornadoes throughout the book. While the illustrations are limited, the overall content of the book manages to cover all bases of the tornado phenomenon.
5.0 out of 5 stars Scared of tornado? April 30 2014
By Trisha Bennett - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I had family coming to visit they were scared of being in tornado so I sent book. Having this information made it not so scary for them even though I'm still scared.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive Book on Tornadoes Nov. 27 2012
By Debra Deem - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
There are several tornado books on the market, and for a person interested in the subject, it can be hard to know where to start. In my opinion, if you were to get just one book on tornadoes, this would have to be it. It covers almost every facet of the subject of tornadoes. To show this, I will list the chapter names here.
I: Tornadoes Past and Present
II: In The Wake of a Tornado
III: Tornado Life Cycle
IV: Tornado Formation
V: Tornado Forecasting and Warnings
VI:Tornado Wind Speeds
VII: The Fujita Scale of Tornado Intensity
VIII: Tornado Myths
IX: Tornado Safety
X: Approaching the Unapproachable
XI: Tornado Numbers and Records
XII: Tornadoes by Decade
XIII: Tornadoes Outside the United States
XIV: Tornado Risks
XV: Final Thoughts
Sound comprehensive to you? Well, it is. In his book, Mr. Grazulis not only gives accurate scientific information about the subject, but he cites his sources for almost everything and even gives recommendations for learning more about tornadoes in the back. At the same time, he does not politicize the subject like so many other meteorology books do. Whether you are a student of meteorology, a person living in tornado alley, or just someone interested in nature's ultimate windstorm, this is the definitive book on tornadoes.
3.0 out of 5 stars Uneven discussion on tough topic July 3 2011
By Brett A. Fishwild - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Tornado science is tough, and still very much growing. So it must be difficult to compile an overall book on the topic, as opposed to just describing the aftermath. A search on Amazon will not reveal many books, and very few reviews for the ones you do find. If you are looking for a good technical discussion on how tornadoes form, their internal structure, and how they move - you likely need to focus more on an internet search or through industry/academic journals. Why? Simply because we don't know enough yet.

This book includes some gripping and interesting descriptions of tornado strikes and their effects, but, not to be callous, but they get repetitive after a while. I am saying this as someone looking for how tornadoes work though - so take that with a grain of salt. There are several sections of the text that deal with what we know about tornado mechanics, data from significant strikes, and questions on how to move the science forward. We just can't write about what we don't know. Why the 3 stars then? It was the overall delivery of the book. My opinion, I just found it choppy. Some sections tried to get technical, but without good setup or definitions or graphics and I felt lost. Other sections seems very simplistic. It was a bit of a slog at times, to get through it.

If you know nothing at all about tornadoes, I would recommend this at a Used Book price. There are some neat things in there. I do look forward to another book by the author on the matter in the future though!

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