Skies of Fury: Weather Weirdness Around the World

Overview

The skies aren't friendly anymore!
Sweltering heat waves. Bone-chilling blizzards. Ferocious winds. Mighty peculiar weather we've been having, isn't it? Well, scientists predict that climate trends are only going to get stranger in the future. And in Skies of Fury, top science writers Patricia Barnes-Svarney and Thomas E. Svarney take you around the world, bringing you face-to-face with the eye of the storm, ...

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Overview

The skies aren't friendly anymore!
Sweltering heat waves. Bone-chilling blizzards. Ferocious winds. Mighty peculiar weather we've been having, isn't it? Well, scientists predict that climate trends are only going to get stranger in the future. And in Skies of Fury, top science writers Patricia Barnes-Svarney and Thomas E. Svarney take you around the world, bringing you face-to-face with the eye of the storm, explaining the full range of weird weather affecting us. Discover the reasons behind:
* downdrafts, heat bursts, derechoes, and tornadoes

• monsoons, tropical storms, hurricanes, and rogue waves

• sandstorms, dust devils, wildfires, and polar ice deserts

• light pillars, diamond dust, and sun dogs

• mirages, UFOs, and green flashes

• torrential rainfall, ball lightning, and super showstorms

• flash flooding, hall, sea smoke, and smog
And much, much more!
Fully illustrated with photographs from key weather trackers, and packed with unusual factoids and records, Skies of Fury reveals the extremes to which Mother Nature can go in both her unparalleled beauty and her wanton destructiveness.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
There are no bad boys and the same goes for weather, but that's not to say its behavior isn't often mighty strange, as science writers Barnes-Svarney and Svarney explain. Concisely knit together here are introductions to the grand forces shaping the weather and the sideshow of related hellspawn, dazzlers, and curios. In a light but bell-clear tone, Barnes-Svarney and Svarney lay the foundation stones: the hydrologic cycle, the great prevailing winds, the jet stream and the southern oscillation and high and low pressure systems—the weather shapers. Then they present the odd weather phenomena, the events that keep you wondering: Jacob's Ladder and the Ropes of Maui, sun dogs and moon dogs, the twilight wedge, the specter of Brocken (where, high in the mountains, your shadow penetrates into the encroaching fog, framed by concentric rings of glory), and everybody's favorite, the green flash. These are set within their particular contexts, be they topographic or atmospheric, and are typically accompanied by outrageous stories. One finds a pilot bailing out of his plane at 47,000 feet and falling smack dab into a monster hurricane. He is spun around in the system, the ultimate wash-rinse cycle, for 40 minutes. He almost drowns, but it's the lightning that really gets his attention: "it appeared mainly as a bluish sheet, several feet thick, sometimes sticking close to me in pairs." He is hurled to the ground, lands in a tree, and walks away. Then there is the chartreuse ball of lightning the size of a bus that bounced down a Welsh hillside, and the air light that brings us purple mountains' majesty, and the storm surges during syzygy, when the sun and moon are aligned and thetides just keep rising. The weather: it never ceases to amaze. You will continue to stand in awe of it after reading this book, but at least it won't be dumb awe. (photos)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684850009
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 9/3/1999
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 0.51 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia Barnes-Svarney was editor and writer for the award-winning New York Public Library Science Desk Reference, and has written articles for Popular Science, Air & Space, Astronomy, Omni, and other magazines.

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Read an Excerpt

Preface

As scientists, we're exposed to the weather more than usual as we travel in the field. Most of the time, we can do our work on either a cloudy or sunny day. Or we can endure a warm rain as we explore. But an ice storm can also mean a canceled flight, or a string of hot days can cause the trains to be late.

Of course, we're not the only ones. Everyone is affected by weather. For most people, weather, the local atmospheric changes we experience every day, is usually viewed with joy or disgust. We praise weather when it treats us to a sunny and warm day for a family picnic, and curse it when sleet falls on the day we chose to travel. Weather is also a matter of debate, some preferring hot-weather beachcombing to cold-weather skiing. We tend to criticize the weather forecasters for not predicting or controlling the weather, as if they really had a say in the matter. And of course, many of us are addicted to the weather channels, on television and the Internet, places that give us on-the-spot pictures of what weather is coming our way, eliminating the surprise of the "coming-out-of-nowhere" weather events our ancestors had to endure.

But even with all our warnings and colorful weather maps, the weather continues to awe and amaze us with its power and weirdness. One reason arises from the very nature of weather: Unlike other physical events on Earth, such as the lava flow from a volcano or the shaking of an earthquake, we can't really "touch" weather. We can't see or touch the air rising to build a thunderstorm, and we have no way of watching how positive and negative charges meet to form a lightning bolt. The atmosphere becomes the playground for nature's magicians. And we are the passive observers of their demonstrations — from calming rainbows to skies of fury.

Whether you are traveling the Rocky Mountains of the United States, the deserts of Australia, the Caribbean islands, or the windblown ice sheets of the South Pole, there are always weather sights particular to a region. This book starts out by explaining the better-known weather events and some of the weirder facts about these common phenomena. It then swings its way through the many "sky shows" that develop in other parts of the world, revealing the tricks of light and optical illusions of these weather events. We explain some of the stranger weather phenomena and patterns that often pop up in geographically diverse regions, and even give you a few Internet weather sites to explore for more information.

Weather is important to us all. It has been for thousands of years, and it will continue to be so in the twenty-first century and beyond. Intuitively, we all know that without weather and its connection to the Earth's natural cycles, such as precipitation, evaporation, and condensation, life would cease to exist. Maybe our need to know the weather and explain its many forms is based on one fundamental idea: The weather we see truly represents not only the events driving the Earth and its cycles, but life as we know it.

Copyright © 1999 by Patricia Barnes Svarney and Thomas E. Svarney

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Table of Contents

Contents

Preface

Chapter 1 Familiar (and Unfamiliar) Weather Everywhere

Chapter 2 Tricks of Light and Shadow

Chapter 3 Weird Cloud Formations

Chapter 4 Rainstorms, Snowstorms, and Thunderstorms

Chapter 5 Weird Lightning Phenomena

Chapter 6 Falling Winds

Chapter 7 Spinning Winds and Tornadoes

Chapter 8 Mountains and the Weather Above the Clouds

Chapter 9 Dry Skies of the Desert

Chapter 10 Ocean Weather from the Deep

Chapter 11 Space Weather and Us

Epilogue

Index

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Preface

As scientists, we're exposed to the weather more than usual as we travel in the field. Most of the time, we can do our work on either a cloudy or sunny day. Or we can endure a warm rain as we explore. But an ice storm can also mean a canceled flight, or a string of hot days can cause the trains to be late.

Of course, we're not the only ones. Everyone is affected by weather. For most people, weather, the local atmospheric changes we experience every day, is usually viewed with joy or disgust. We praise weather when it treats us to a sunny and warm day for a family picnic, and curse it when sleet falls on the day we chose to travel. Weather is also a matter of debate, some preferring hot-weather beachcombing to cold-weather skiing. We tend to criticize the weather forecasters for not predicting or controlling the weather, as if they really had a say in the matter. And of course, many of us are addicted to the weather channels, on television and the Internet, places that give us on-the-spot pictures of what weather is coming our way, eliminating the surprise of the "coming-out-of-nowhere" weather events our ancestors had to endure.

But even with all our warnings and colorful weather maps, the weather continues to awe and amaze us with its power and weirdness. One reason arises from the very nature of weather: Unlike other physical events on Earth, such as the lava flow from a volcano or the shaking of an earthquake, we can't really "touch" weather. We can't see or touch the air rising to build a thunderstorm, and we have no way of watching how positive and negative charges meet to form a lightning bolt. The atmosphere becomes the playground for nature's magicians. And we are the passive observers of their demonstrations -- from calming rainbows to skies of fury.

Whether you are traveling the Rocky Mountains of the United States, the deserts of Australia, the Caribbean islands, or the windblown ice sheets of the South Pole, there are always weather sights particular to a region. This book starts out by explaining the better-known weather events and some of the weirder facts about these common phenomena. It then swings its way through the many "sky shows" that develop in other parts of the world, revealing the tricks of light and optical illusions of these weather events. We explain some of the stranger weather phenomena and patterns that often pop up in geographically diverse regions, and even give you a few Internet weather sites to explore for more information.

Weather is important to us all. It has been for thousands of years, and it will continue to be so in the twenty-first century and beyond. Intuitively, we all know that without weather and its connection to the Earth's natural cycles, such as precipitation, evaporation, and condensation, life would cease to exist. Maybe our need to know the weather and explain its many forms is based on one fundamental idea: The weather we see truly represents not only the events driving the Earth and its cycles, but life as we know it.

Copyright © 1999 by Patricia Barnes Svarney and Thomas E. Svarney

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Introduction

Preface As scientists, we're exposed to the weather more than usual as we travel in the field. Most of the time, we can do our work on either a cloudy or sunny day. Or we can endure a warm rain as we explore. But an ice storm can also mean a canceled flight, or a string of hot days can cause the trains to be late.

Of course, we're not the only ones. Everyone is affected by weather. For most people, weather, the local atmospheric changes we experience every day, is usually viewed with joy or disgust. We praise weather when it treats us to a sunny and warm day for a family picnic, and curse it when sleet falls on the day we chose to travel. Weather is also a matter of debate, some preferring hot-weather beachcombing to cold-weather skiing. We tend to criticize the weather forecasters for not predicting or controlling the weather, as if they really had a say in the matter. And of course, many of us are addicted to the weather channels, on television and the Internet, places that give us on-the-spot pictures of what weather is coming our way, eliminating the surprise of the "coming-out-of-nowhere" weather events our ancestors had to endure.

But even with all our warnings and colorful weather maps, the weather continues to awe and amaze us with its power and weirdness. One reason arises from the very nature of weather: Unlike other physical events on Earth, such as the lava flow from a volcano or the shaking of an earthquake, we can't really "touch" weather. We can't see or touch the air rising to build a thunderstorm, and we have no way of watching how positive and negative charges meet to form a lightning bolt. The atmosphere becomes the playground for nature's magicians. And we are the passive observers of their demonstrations -- from calming rainbows to skies of fury.

Whether you are traveling the Rocky Mountains of the United States, the deserts of Australia, the Caribbean islands, or the windblown ice sheets of the South Pole, there are always weather sights particular to a region. This book starts out by explaining the better-known weather events and some of the weirder facts about these common phenomena. It then swings its way through the many "sky shows" that develop in other parts of the world, revealing the tricks of light and optical illusions of these weather events. We explain some of the stranger weather phenomena and patterns that often pop up in geographically diverse regions, and even give you a few Internet weather sites to explore for more information.

Weather is important to us all. It has been for thousands of years, and it will continue to be so in the twenty-first century and beyond. Intuitively, we all know that without weather and its connection to the Earth's natural cycles, such as precipitation, evaporation, and condensation, life would cease to exist. Maybe our need to know the weather and explain its many forms is based on one fundamental idea: The weather we see truly represents not only the events driving the Earth and its cycles, but life as we know it.

Copyright © 1999 by Patricia Barnes Svarney and Thomas E. Svarney

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