Inside the Hurricane: Face to Face with Nature's Deadliest Storms

Davies, Pete

Published by Henry Holt and Co., 2000
ISBN 10: 0805065741 / ISBN 13: 9780805065749
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Synopsis: A fast-paced, dramatic exploration of one of the most powerful and destructive forces in nature

Pete Davies has flown into the eyes of hurricanes with daredevil aviators. He's met with wild-eyed meteorologists who are obsessed with finding out exactly why hurricanes occur and how to predict their onslaughts more accurately. And he's joined heroic aid teams as they've coped with the physical and emotional devastation left in the wake of these awesome storms.

In Inside the Hurricane, Davies sweeps readers from the Caribbean to the Bay of Bengal, describing both the horrifying violence and the eerie beauty of hurricanes. He explains the weather conditions that foster them; discusses in lucid detail how scientists predict, measure, and track them; and delves into mysteries scientists are still trying to solve. Gripping accounts of the greatest hurricanes in history climax with Davies's own firsthand experiences flying into the worst storms of 1999.

A masterful combination of history, science, and adventure, Inside the Hurricane leaves readers with a chilling reminder of nature's enduring domination over man: scientists predict that the hurricanes of tomorrow will make today's Category 5 storms look small.

Review: In October 1998, a tropical wave (a.k.a. "seedling disturbance") churned up in the waters off West Africa, where the hot air masses of the Sahara and the tropics meet the cold wall of the Atlantic Ocean. This "bundle of disarranged weather," in Pete Davies's memorable phrase, gathered strength as it passed across the ocean, emerging days later as the catastrophic Hurricane Mitch, which devastated huge sections of the Caribbean and Central America and killed thousands of people.

Mitch fascinated storm-chasing meteorologists, who, in the main, failed to predict the storm's intensity and to track it accurately. They failed for good reason, Davies suggests: these scientific heroes, the kind of men and women who think nothing of flying through the eyewall of great storms to see what's inside, catalogue their findings through research programs that, Davies writes, are woefully underfunded and understaffed. The United States sends up only two sets of weather balloons a day, many other hurricane-prone countries lack the resources to send up any balloons at all, and a key satellite failed during the storm. Despite the destruction that Mitch wrought, and despite a mountain of evidence that shows that storms are becoming ever more severe in their intensity as a result of global warming, "the world's upper-air network is being steadily degraded" as governments seek to cut their budgets. All of which, Davies suggests, means that although doomsday storms may become commonplace, our ability to foresee them and guess at their landfalls is an iffy matter at best, all for want of a few dollars more. "This is a prospect," he writes, "that good and credible science lays before us--good science done by brave men on a puny budget--and it's a prospect that the people of Honduras already understand far too well."

Inside the Hurricane is an engaging introduction to the minutiae of storm-watching and an impassioned argument that we need to keep a closer eye on the sky. --Gregory McNamee

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Title: Inside the Hurricane: Face to Face with ...
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: 2000
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Used: Good

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