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The Weather Doctor's Book Reviews
My first post-graduate job as a meteorologist involved a daily wind forecast for Environment Ontario for eastern areas of the province in support of the air pollution index monitoring. Our forecast tools were rather primitive at the time: the morning's and previous afternoon's surface map, a 500-mb chart, and a surface forecast map from the Atmospheric Environment Service (now Environment Canada). Each of these products was delivered by taxi from AES forecast headquarters. We also had the latest Airways Code reports for the Great Lakes region which arrived via teletype to our office.
Forecasting wind is one of the easier forecasts, particularly since light wind conditions were the prime parameter of interest, except at two sites where strong winds with a particularly narrow direction band were critical. Most of the forecasting techniques needed I learned from "rules of thumb" and some climatological information of the local site tendencies. In my undergraduate forecasting lab, I don't remember the textbook being of much help in producing forecasting, though it was strong in weather analysis techniques.
When I received the Weather Forecasting Red Book by Tim Vasquez and first thumbed through it, I wished that such a book was available decades ago, though I will grant that much in it represents a state of the science not available during my forecast days. We had to rely on a couple surface maps and one upper air map. Now the full spectra of weather maps on a variety of scales, plus special analyses and a plethora of data, are available to anyone with a computer and internet access. The art and science of forecasting are such an exciting field today, and much of the needed information is available to all who are interested.
The Weather Forecasting Red Book is the third book in Tim Vasquez's guides to weather forecasting (Weather Forecasting Handbook and Weather Map Handbook), and fifth of his books, all of which are reviewed on this site. His Storm Chasing Handbook could also be included in the forecasting guide series. To quote the publisher's blurb on this book:
"The Weather Forecasting Red Book is a groundbreaking reference that breaks away from theory and helps forecasters tackle everyday prediction problems. The book contains a wealth of information on real-life techniques, methods, and forecast systems. It draws upon a considerable body of experience by the weather services of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada."
I can't improve on that synopsis. While this book is not one that is not meant to be a good read cover to cover, it is an excellent reference to be referred to again and again. I enjoyed the section on forecasting rules of thumb and indices (particularly for thunderstorms and severe weather). The initial section explains weather observations with definitions for the various terms used in observing weather. That is followed by an analysis section that looks at the types of maps and charts available and how they are coded. Next is the forecasting section where various rules and indices are described for forecasting everything from cyclonic movements to minimum temperatures. The fourth section describes the available products from the many numerical analysis and forecast models as well as a description of those models. That is followed by the codes used to transmit weather information, tables of constants and conversion factors, a glossary, and a map breakdown of the US National Weather Service districts. Prior to receiving this book, I would have had to go to several references to find what is included in this handy volume. (As I was reading it, I remembered several instances when I had to search the ‘net for similar information to answer reader, questions.)
I admit that the Weather Forecasting Red Book is not going to appeal to all weather enthusiasts due to its technical nature, but it is a must book for the shelves of anyone interested in weather forecasting, whether as an amateur or as a professional in forecasting or in a related field. It will sit on my prime reference shelf next to my computer.
Weather Forecasting Red Book by Tim Vasquez, 2006, Weather Graphics Technologies, Austin TX, ISBN 0-9706840-6-1, trade paperback, 304 pp.
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