Author of books for kids about wildlife, nature, space, weather, and more!

Mary Kay Carson

Mary Kay Carson

Author of books for kids about wildlife, nature, space, weather, and more!

THE Tornado Scientist

Seeing Inside Severe Storms


Mary Kay Carson with photos by Tom Uhlman


In this addition to the critically-acclaimed Scientist in the Field series, scientist Robin Tanamachi and her team are trying save countless lives across America’s heartland, chasing one tornado at a time.

    Robin Tanamachi has been captivated by tornadoes and extreme weather her entire life. When she realized people researched weather for a job, she was hooked. She now studies tornadogenesis, or how tornadoes form, and what causes them to get weaker versus strengthen. For her, driving around in a Doppler radar truck aiming towards storms is a normal day in the office. The data she collects is then modeled and studied on computers–with math, physics, and computer science working hand in hand with meteorology. At the end of the day, knowing exactly how, when, and where these violent storms happen can give more warning time for everyone involved.


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A Junior Library Guild selection

Check out the Scientists in the Field website

Reviews

   "Whenever there is a threat of tornadoes, people glue themselves to the Weather Channel watching storm chasers. Such was Robin Tanamachi’s experience at age seven, which prompted her, right then, to become a meteorologist and tornado scientist; she never wavered from that career path. This book follows Tanamachi as she describes her work and the science behind it; her work with the National Severe Storms Laboratory's VORTEX, VORTEX2, and VORTEX-SE projects has been crucial to unraveling how storms develop. In their photobiography of Tanamachi, Carson and Uhlman present much more than her life: they explore and discuss tornado research and processes scientists utilize to understand the storms in their attempt to make weather situations safer for citizens. Uhlman’s rich color photographs (along with some from Tanamachi’s own collection) and Carson’s eloquent text take readers into the chase truck with Tanamachi, her husband, Dan Dawson, and their colleagues. Diagrams, text boxes, explanations, detailed notes, and recommended resources make this addition to the Scientists in the Field series a rich addition to weather collections." —Booklist, May 15, 2019

   "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 Tornadoes, 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. For middle schoolers, challenging science about a perennially appealing but surprisingly complex subject." —Kirkus, March 19, 2019

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A Junior Library Guild selection