Extraordinary Weather

Striking Meteorology for Everyone

Richard Hamblyn is one-man populariser of weather and meteorology. He has produced a new book Extraordinary Weather which focuses on more extreme weather conditions. It adopts a similar format to his earlier books on clouds by using striking photographs with short explanations of the phenomenon.

The approach works well for this new volume subtitled Wonders of the atmosphere from dust storms to lightning strikes. His new book is divided up into six broad sections:

  • ·         Storms and Tempests in which tornadoes, typhoons and cyclones (depending on location) feature strongly
  • ·         Ice and Snow, with some strange “snow rollers”
  • ·         Heat and Drought including dust and sand storms
  • ·         Atmospherics, some of which will be familiar to readers of his earlier books
  • ·         Strange Phenomena as a catch all for a variety of other meteorological events
  • ·         Man-made Weather which illustrates effects directly created by human technology and behaviour.

Many of the photographs are from space and show just how frighteningly large are many weather events. A dust storm covers much of the Mediterranean or sandstorm envelopes Qatar. It puts humans properly in their place in the natural order; the power of the weather outstrips anything man can do to prevent the disasters that such events can cause.

Understanding the Weather

Richard Hamblyn has done much to make meteorology accessible, interesting and understandable. His use of striking photography and clear, straightforward explanations justifiably makes his books successful. It satisfies our curiosity as to what is happening in the skies and with weather. This is not just a British fascination; I was rereading Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence immediately prior to picking up Extraordinary Weather. In that book the French farmers, like farmers everywhere, had similar obsession with weather and what it was going to do.

All who love the outdoors tend to share a fascination with meteorology and want a practical understanding of weather. Richard Hamblyn throws in snippets of information of what the phenomena presage and so helps address that practical curiosity. Extraordinary Weather provides a pleasant indoor diversion for weather watchers but it also serves as a useful reference. It allows the amateur meteorologist, and no doubt many professionals, to put names to what they see.

Richard Hamblyn has written widely on science, especially meterology, and this is his third book produced in conjunction with the Met Office in the United Kingdom. On M-dash there are reviews of the other two:

There is nothing to criticise about these books and Extraordinary Weather will make a welcome addition to any meteorologist or weather watchers reference library.

Extraordinary Weather, Wonders of the atmosphere from dust storms to lightning strikes (2012, ISBN:978-1-4463-0191-3) by Richard Hamblyn in conjunction with the Met Office is published in softback by David and Charles at £9.99.

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