The Mercy of the Sky: The Story of a Tornado by Holly Bailey
eBook review copy, 320 pages
hardcover ISBN-13: 9780525427490
The Mercy of the Sky: The Story of a Tornado by Holly Bailey is a
very highly recommended account of the two tornadoes that hit Moore and
El Reno, Oklahoma in May of 2013. Most of the book focuses on the May
20, 2013 tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma, a suburb south of Oklahoma
City. Bailey's narrative reads like a nail-biting thriller; even though
you know the outcome, the tension is palatable as the storm approaches.
This tornado was a massive mile-wide twister with winds in excess of 200
miles per hour that hit during the day, and destroyed two schools.
Twenty-five people were killed, seven of which were third graders at the
Plaza Towers Elementary School who had their school collapse on top of
them. This tornado was one known as "a 'grinder' as it took its time
chewing neighborhoods into tiny bits."
The El Reno tornado hit just eleven days after this, on May 31. This
tornado was at least 2.6 miles wide and is the largest tornado on
record. Both of these monsters were EF5 tornadoes on the Enhanced Fujita
Bailey, a reporter, does an excellent job chronicling the story, and the
history of storm forecasting in Oklahoma, through several key
individuals, including: Gary England, the renowned and trusted
weatherman at CBS affiliate KWTV, Mike Morgan and Damon Lane his
rivals; Amy Simpson, the head principal at Plaza Towers Elementary in
Moore; Steve Eddy, city manager of Moore; Rick Smith, of the National
Weather Service in Norman; Howard Bluestein, a well-known meteorology
professor at OU; and several others.
As a native Oklahoman, Bailey was compelled to tell what happened in
Moore. She understands that most of us who live in tornado alley follow
the weather very closely and those in Oklahoma, perhaps, the most. She
"knew I wanted to tell the longer story of what had happened here. As a
native, I knew how people felt about the weather, how they loved it and
feared it all at the same time. I wanted to know what it was like being
in the path of a tornado that seemed bigger than life itself as it bore
down on the city from the west. I knew I had to chronicle the story of
those who survived one of the worst tornadoes in history - and those
didn’t make it."
I vividly recall both of these tornadoes. As a resident in several
different communities all located in tornado alley over the years, I,
too, have my first memory of a night of storms, flooding, and tornadoes
that hooked me on meteorology for life. This interest often has me
watching weather radar for different areas of the country, including
this massive storm system. More importantly the Moore tornado of 2013
has changed the way the local elementary school where I work conducts
our tornado drills, including where we go and the position of the
students. I'm certain that this tornado must have changed the way
tornado drills are conducted and the locations where students must go
for other school districts too.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy
of Penguin for review