Research meteorologist and radar expert Robin Tanamachi, who once studied tornadoes by chasing them across Midwestern plains, now lies in wait for them in the hills and forests of America’s southeast.
Writer Carson (Inside Tornados, 2010) and photographer Uhlman document the veteran storm chaser’s work and her change of focus from storms in Tornado Alley (from the Dakotas down to Texas) to an area called Dixie Alley that stretches from Louisiana to Georgia and up to Tennessee and Alabama. Chapter by chapter, they introduce the scientist and the science, including the genesis of severe storms and tornado anatomy; explain the use of weather radar and other tools; recall the effects of a record-breaking number of highly destructive tornadoes in Tennessee and Alabama in 2011; show cooperating scientists gathered in Alabama to “set a tornado net”; and describe efforts to predict tornadoes further in advance and to ensure that people react appropriately to storm warnings. There is particular attention to Tanamachi’s work with radar and husband Dan Dawson’s measurement of the sizes and shapes of raindrops. Plenty of well-captioned photos (including pictures of disasters and of the scientist as a tornado-obsessed child) break up the exposition and will add to the appeal. Carson’s description of the fourth-generation Japanese-American scientist’s work is detailed and immediate; readers might well be able to imagine themselves in her shoes. (Dawson presents white.)
For middle schoolers, challenging science about a perennially appealing but surprisingly complex subject. (glossary, research suggestions, acknowledgements, sources and bibliography, photo credits, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)