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See Inside Scientific American Volume 308, Issue 3

Recommended: Storm Kings




Pantheon Books

Storm Kings: The Untold History of America*amp*apos;s First Tornado Chasers
by Lee Sandlin
Pantheon Books, 2013 (($26.95))

The geography of North America's Great Plains is ideally suited to the strange storm phenomenon of tornadoes. Collisions between masses of wet, warm air from the Gulf of Mexico and cool, dry air from Canada and the Rockies over the wide-open space create the kind of intense thunderstorms that lead to twisters, which early eyewitnesses dubbed “Storm Kings.”

Sandlin's history of tornadoes in America includes lively debates about storm science in the mid-1800s between America's first meteorologist, James Espy, and his contemporaries, as well as the first successful twister forecast in 1948 by meteorologists at the Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City.

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