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03 December 2012

H W "Buzz" Bernard: Eyewall

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A must for hurricane junkies
If you are fascinated by hurricanes and the way that TV channels follow the weather then you will love this book. The author H.W. "Buzz" Bernard is a retired meteorologist who worked for thirteen years at the Atlanta-based Weather Channel and knows a lot about these areas.

The book starts dramatically with a C130 plane deliberately flying into the "eyewall" (the centre) of a hurricane to better measure its intensity and direction. When they reach the "eyewall" they enter a breathtaking vision of virtually cloudless skies and calm winds but are surrounded by a circular mass of seething clouds of the rest of the hurricane. This is the Stadium Effect, the feeling of being in a vast stadium where the stands are the hurricane itself.

On the ground a TV meteorologist believes that the intensity of the hurricane is greater than forecast and that it could be headed to low lying areas that need to be evacuated. The sub-plots revolve around the dangers and dramas faced by people who have not evacuated or refused to evacuate and the consequences of damage to the plane when it flies into a far more intensive storm than expected.

As I have never experienced a hurricane (or cyclone in my home country, Australia) I am not a hurricane junkie and found the story to a be a bit contrived to showcase  the knowledge and experience of the author. If you are a hurricane junkie, like my wife who believes that every severe storm is a mini cyclone, you will love this book and the drama surrounding the hurricane experience. Personally I rated the book at 3 stars but others with far more interest in hurricanes/cyclones than I do would probably give it a 4 star rating.

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