Academic journal article Air & Space Power Journal

Stormchasers: The Hurricane Hunters and Their Fateful Flight into Hurricane Janet

Academic journal article Air & Space Power Journal

Stormchasers: The Hurricane Hunters and Their Fateful Flight into Hurricane Janet

Article excerpt

Stormchasers: The Hurricane Hunters and Their Fateful Flight into Hurricane Janet by David Toomey. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. (http:// www.wwnorton.com), 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10110, 2002, 224 pages, $25.95 (hardcover).

Because of the number of variables at play and the effects of so many other unknowns, the study of weather is an imperfect science. Determining storm tracks and predicting the occurrence of severe weather or even rain at a specific place and time five days out can be an immense challenge. One can imagine the task facing hurricane forecasters in the early and mid-1950s, working without the benefit of advanced computers and satellite imagery; nevertheless, the American public depended upon them for timely and accurate warnings of impending, destructive weather. They might as well have tried scaling Mount Everest vising just toothpicks for climbing gear.

The men of the US Air Force and Navy-the Hurricane Hunters-served as the eyes and ears of the National Hurricane Center. Toomey tells the story of one particular Navy Hurricane Hunter crew that flew into Hurricane Janet in 1955-and did not return. He combines this tale with a history of meteorology as it relates to the development of the art and science of forecasting, as well as a history (up until 1955) of "storm chasing," which evolved from a wager during World War II.

One finds similarities between Stormchasers and Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men against the Sea. …

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