Top positive review
8 people found this helpful
PUBLISHER! Please expand this book!
on 31 May 2011
I bought this in the hope that it could serve as a complete basic guide to the weather. It certainly comes close, but it doesn't quite supersede Storm Dunlop's earlier books. It easily could have.
It offers the clarity and style of Storm Dunlop's earlier books, and (not being in identification-guide format) there is more scope for a systematic presentation of weather as a subject, with full sections introducing the atmosphere, weather patterns, and of course a detailed account of forecasting and practical meteorology. There is a good long section describing the various cloud types and what each means for the weather, with mostly excellent photographs, so the book is fairly good as a field guide as well.
But compared to Storm Dunlop's 2002 book How to Identify - Weather (Collins how to identify guides) this identification section is a little thin. This is all the more disappointing when the book itself feels physically just a little thin! With perhaps 10 to 16 more pages it could have taken up all of the extra material that the earlier book provided, mostly in giving a fuller account of the various forms of the main cloud types. Some types of cirrus and other high clouds are missing, the cumulus types don't receive enough illustration (more, and more typical, photos of Cumulus mediocris and congestus would be good, helping to make clear the transition between them), and illustration and explanation of radiatus varieties doesn't seem to appear. Really, such a book should cover all the species and varieties of all clouds (less than 30 or so in total, anyway). A summary chart of the complete list of Latin names would be handy, too. I think that there could be a little more coverage of the unusual phenomena (fairly complete though it is), both weather (e.g. Kelvin-Helmholtz waves, or are these the same as billows?) and optical (e.g. the Brocken Spectre). A page or two on aurorae (and their forms) is obligatory, but I can't find anything on them in this book. It would also be good to have a few more photos showing actual weather situations - the more complex and dynamic skies with several cloud types, rather than static cloud portraits.
It is good to have the cloud summary charts on pp.28 and 29, giving thumbnail photos of the cloud types, together with altitudes (perhaps the actual figures for different latitudes could have been given as well). Exemplary (on the same pages) is the stylized, painted chart showing all the types of cloud at their relative (typical) heights in one sky-view. Other diagrams in the book are very well done too, and aid visualisation better than any others I have seen. One small point with the cloud photos: a few of them don't show the horizon (fine for high clouds, but a little disturbing with low clouds like Cumulus humilis).
There is also a section summarizing the typical weather patterns of the world's regions, which makes it a little more useful internationally (although the focus is still on Europe). But it doesn't cover every region, and isn't detailed enough to avoid the feeling that it could be dispensed with. It should be full enough to describe some subsidiary, but still important, regional weather patterns (like the Australian 'East Coast Low'); and to be at all useful Asia needs to be subdivided.
Sorry to go on for so long, but this is the sort of book that frustrates you by falling just so little short of perfection.
As it is, I find that it works best as a companion to the 2002 book, complementing that book's glorious photos and direct ID guide format with a greater focus on meteorology. But with a little more attention it could be the BEST EVER standalone guide to the weather.
P.S. I have since come across RYA Weather Handbook - Northern Hemisphere and RYA Weather Handbook: Southern Hemisphere, and these serve brilliantly to provide a basic guide to weather systems - from a yachting perspective, though - a good pairing for Dunlop's earlier book, without much overlap.