Saturday, September 5, 2009

Freaks of the Storm

Freaks of the Storm by Randy Cerveny
Trade paperback
371 pages, including bibliography and index
Thunder's Mouth Press, 2006
ISBN-13: 9781560258018
highly recommended

Synopsis From the Publisher:
In the course of his numerous talks and presentations to college and grade school students, civic clubs, and nursing homes, climatologist Randy Cerveny found that people of all ages are fascinated by the "unusual"-and he seized on that fascination to tell them about strange weather. Now, in his first book, the rest of us can learn of real, documented stories such as these: Odd occurrences of chickens losing all their feathers during tornadoes (so-called "chicken plucking"); Strange stories of finding lightning victims who have been completely stripped of all of their clothes (through a process known as "the vapor effect"); Weird stories of how past powerful hailstorms have both led to the ending of one war-and the complete prevention of another; Bizarre uses of weather-such as the strange contraption called a "windwagon" that literally "sailed" nearly 500 miles from Kansas to Colorado; Each chapter in Freaks of the Storm encompasses the oddities of a specific type of weather, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, lightning, and hail. The author also divides specific conditions into a set of categories associated with the overall phenomena.
My Thoughts:

Freaks of the Storm: From Flying Cows to Stealing Thunder: The World's Strangest True Weather Stories by Randy Cerveny is great! OK, ok... I am a weather geek so I'm bound to enjoy a book that features all sorts of unusual weather events. There is a brief chapter on the history of collecting weather facts and explanations for them. After that Cerveny has chapters covering: Tornadoes; Lightning; Hail; Rain; Hurricanes; Hot, Cold, Wet and Dry; Snow; Wind; Dust Devils and Waterspouts; The Oddest Weather Extremes; Oddest Forecasts: and State Weather Oddities. In each chapter he has some great examples of freaks of the storms along with explanations for them.

This book is about exactly what its title states - strange weather events. It is not a general meteorology book. It is not a textbook. If you have an understanding of the whys of weather or even if you just like reading about odd occurrences associated with weather then you will likely enjoy this book. It's a collection of odd things, not a detail treatise on one storm. Also, alas, it really did need a good editor to do some grammar and spell checking. Some mistakes (a monument called a "moment" pg. 327, and the District of Columbia called "District of Colombia" pg. 318) are really very pitiful and there were a few other writing errors. Now, I enjoyed the subject enough that I was able to overlook the errors but if they are going to bother you, then you might want to skip this book.
Highly Recommended - the very was left out due to the need of editing, but I did very much enjoy it


Such odd happenings in relation to weather were tagged in the first part of the last century with the phrase "freaks of the storm." pg. 3

Research of these unusual aspects of weather has led to some surprising breakthroughs. We now know that there is a scientific explanation behind many of the anomalies.... But given all of our incredible improvements in weather research and technology, do freaks of the storm still occur? pg. 20

In each of the following chapter, I have created a number of basic categories of weather oddities and selected an assortment of interesting (and, hopefully, entertaining) anecdotes to present their basic nature. This book contains well over five hundred different - and odd - stories of unusual weather from my archive of eight thousand entries.....Each individual chapter also contains a section on general safety recommendations for each type of given weather. pg. 21

Boys, girls, ladies, and gents, step right up! Come one, come all! Be entertained, be amazed, and be frightened! Encounter the outlandish, the odd, and the weird... the Freaks of the Storms! Step right up and hear the strangest plethora of wind, rain, and storm stories ever to be assembled in one place.

Do you have the courage to hear the creepy story of "Ice Spear of Death"? Can you endure the tale of the "Lightening Strike that ignited a Man's Stomach"? Have you the willingness to witness the cattle "Herd Shot around the World"? Do you have the nerve to learn the secrets of the horrifying "Rains of Blood or the macabre "Killer Fog of Pennsylvania"? Are you brave enough to learn the gruesome details of the Tornado Crucifixion" or bold enough to discover the intriguing secrets of the "Hurricane Pig"?

The Weird. The Bizarre. The Unusual. It's all here... so boy and girls, ladies and gents: Prepare to enter the baffling world of... the Freaks of the Storm! pg. 22

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