Bechtel, Stefan. Tornado Hunter.
National Geographic 2009 272p 24.00 978-1-4262-0302-2 all ages
Ride along with the ultimate risk-takers, tornado chasers. Learn about the lives of those who study tornadoes, the conditions necessary for tornado formation and the destruction tornadoes cause. Excellent science and adventure for grades 5 and up, including adults. This book will appeal to any seeker of adventure, the inventor, or the science nerd. The formation of tornadoes and the destruction they cause are all chronicled in a very readable book that intersperses science seamlessly into the adventure that tornado chasers thrive on. Text boxes provide quick facts that increase reader’s interest. Heart pounding descriptions of five tornadoes and what it is like to chase and become immersed in a tornado formation will keep the reader glued to the book. Quotations from survivors of tornadoes as well as the storm chasers make this book seem like a “you are there” history. Chapters introduce the reader to the people whose names have become synonymous with tornadoes. Fujita, for whom the destruction scale is named, started with mapping destruction from the atomic bomb in Hiroshima during World War II. His chance connection with an American scientist showed they were both working on similar concepts related to winds. Tim Samaras, ultimate tornado chaser and equipment design wizard is a man whose mind asks questions and the answers result in equipment that can withstand the wind force of the tornado and come out unharmed all the while collecting scientific data. His armored car is filled with instruments that help track weather systems as well as record current conditions. The drudgery of waiting for the perfect conditions for tornado formation and rough rides over fields and dirt roads show that tornado chasers must have patience as well as be risk-takers. A section of photos and index supplement the book. Fantastic reading for those interested in tornadoes. Grades 5-adult. Lois McNicol