Saturday, March 22, 2014

Riders on the Storm

Storm Kings: America’s First Tornado Chasers – Lee Sandlin (Vintage Books)

The allure seems hard to not only understand, but also to explain; tornadoes hold a unique fascination, a spellbinding mix of wonder and fear in the hearts and minds of many people. Some give into the urge and try to seek answers and understanding of how tornadoes work and how we can get a better handle on how we can do a better job of warning people and saving lives.

While today’s modern day storm chasers roll out with hopped up recreational vehicles, loaded up with high tech weather gear, the early versions of these weather adventurists tackled things with simple observations and the most basic of gear as they tried to wrap their heads around the phenomenon that occurred in front of them.

Author Lee Sandlin turns his focus on those early pioneers in Storm Kings: America’s First Tornado Chasers. Having grown up in an era where there was a scientific understanding of tornadoes, what conditions caused there formation and how they work, it may seem hard to believe that it wasn’t all that long ago that tornadoes had an almost mystical quality.

Aside from the fascinating history that Sandlin details, it is the ongoing evolution of the science of tornadoes that is so insightful. Placed against the back drop of today’s ridiculous certitude that global climate change is not only occurring, but portends a growing doom scenario; the evolution of the science of tornadoes as gone through an amazing transition that proves that there truly is no such thing as settled science and our grasp of meteorological science is tenuous at best.


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