Most helpful critical review
87 of 90 people found the following review helpful
You need other books to make sense of this
on 15 January 2003
I found this book interesting but, for me, flawed in several respects. The book contains some very brief information on cold, warm and occluded fronts - what they mean and how they behave. It also gives you a very handy cross section of a front, and shows you where the cloud formations you can see pictured in the book are likely to occur in the front.
But really any background information which put the cloud photos into context ends there. Unless you know a reasonable amount about how weather 'works' and interrelates, this book ain't going to help you much. To get the most out of this book, you're going to have to have read a basic book on general 'weather' first. That's not really a criticism of this book which after all doesn't claim to be a general book on the weather, but just a warning that it's of limited use on its own...and that perhaps it would have been much better with just a little more contextual background information.
More seriously flawed are the photos themselves. You get a photo of, say, cirrus clouds and then a description of the clouds' telltale characteristics and what significance they have for the forthcoming weather: "notice the fallstreaks striating towards the west on the upper cirrostratus...". The trouble with this is there is a photo of a whole skyful of layer upon layer cloud...there is absolutely no indication of which part of the picture the description is referring to, just some simple numbered circles on the photos would be useful so you knew which part of the sky the description is referring to. It's a little like giving someone a 1:25,000 scale map and telling them to look at the 'church with a spire'...there are dozens of 'em.
Finally, there's no indication at what time of the day, nor which direction the photos were taken which is fairly important.
I think in summary, using this book you'll be able to identify a cloud formation and even stab at a decent forecast from it...but crucially YOU WON'T KNOW WHY.