AMS Weather
AMS Weather Book Home | shopping cartShopping Cart
University of Chicago Press Home

Sources for Chapter 8

The books, Web sites, journal articles, and interviews listed on this page are sources of information other than facts and concepts found in most beginning college-level meteorology textbooks, which the author used or that could help readers better understand the concepts described. For more on various topics, including further reading and links to related Web sites, follow the links labeled “Explorations.” Links labeled “Outtakes” are to text from early drafts of the book that were dropped before publication.

In the notes below “the author” refers to Jack Williams, author of The AMS Weather Book.

Pages 176–177
  • The two-page photo showing a lightning stroke hitting the side of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., holds two lessons about lightning:
    • The lightning flash is not hitting the top of the monument—the highest object in the area—but the side. A streamer is reaching up from the top toward the stepped leader coming down from the cloud. (The graphic on page 195 of The AMS Weather Book explains what these are.)
    • Lightning can surprise even an experienced weather photographer. Kevin Ambrose, the photographer, thought the lightning was far away when the stroke hit. He explains this in his long caption to the photo in a post on the blog. Before even thinking of trying to take lightning photos, spend some time on the Web sites linked to in the lightning section of page 193 below.
Pages 178–179
  • The Parsons Company tornado story is based on interviews with Craig Joraanstad and Bob Parsons at the rebuilt Parsons Company factory in Roanoke, Illinois. A photo gallery on the Parsons Company Web site has more than fifty photos showing the tornado as it was hitting the factory, the resulting damage, and the beginning of the cleanup and rebuilding.
Pages 181–182
Page 184
  • Role of downdrafts as a source of thunderstorm power: Horace R. Byers, “Structure and Dynamics of the Thunderstorm,” Science 110 (September 23, 1949): 291–294.
Pages 184–185
  • Downdrafts and airplanes: The complete story hasn’t been told in one place of how scientists identified microbursts and how scientists, pilots, aviation companies, and government officials worked together to stop microbursts from regularly causing airliners to crash. Probably the best short version is Don Phillips’s “How a ‘Microburst’ Downed a Jetliner and Revolutionized Flight Safety,” International Herald Tribune (August 1, 2005). James W. Wilson and Roger M. Wakimoto’s “The Discovery of the Downburst: T. T. Fujita’s Contribution,” in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS) 82 (January 2001): 49–62, also gives a general outline of the story.
  • Theodore Fujita: Based on a University of Chicago press release following his death; an Associated Press obituary published by, with added information; and memories of Fujita from several people who worked with or knew him, published online by
Page 186–188
Page 188
Page 189
  • Struck by lightning: Based on author’s telephone interview with Michael Utley and subsequent e-mail exchanges. For more information, see
Page 190
Page 191
Page 191–192
  • Lightning safety: NWS’s Lightning Safety Web site and e-mail exchanges and conversations with Michael Utley and Mary Ann Cooper at Ron Holle of Vaisala Global Atmospherics, Inc.
  • Lightning detection graphic: Images from Vaisala’s Web site and e-mail exchanges with Ron Holle.
Page 192
Pages 193–194
  • Lightning graphic and the anatomy of lightning section: NSSL’s Lightning Basics Web page; Martin Uman, All About Lightning (New York: Dover Publications, 1987); NWS JetStream Online School for Weather’s Lightning Introduction Web page.
  • Speed of lightning: Based on three items from the March 17, 1934, issue of ScienceNews Magazine. The brief lightning story is the second of the three on the page.
Pages 194–195
  • Creating lightning and lightning’s mysteries: Based in part of the author’s discussions with Martin Uman and other researchers during a two-day visit to the University of Florida’s International Center for Lightning Research and Testing at the Camp Blanding, Florida, National Guard Base, the center’s Web site, and Joseph R. Dwyer, “A Bolt Out of the Blue: New Research Shows That Lightning Is a Surprisingly Complex and Mystifying Phenomenon,” Scientific American (May 2005): 65–71.
Page 195
Pages 196–199
Pages 199 and 201
  • A goal of better warnings: Barbara Hammer and Thomas W. Schmidlin, “Response to Warnings during the 3 May 1999 Oklahoma City Tornado: Reasons and Relative Injury Rates,” Weather and Forecasting 17 (June 2002): 577–581; Sheryll Brown, et al., “Tornado-Related Deaths and Injuries in Oklahoma due to the 3 May 1999 Tornadoes,” Weather and Forecasting 17 (June 2002): 343–353. The June 2002 issue of Weather and Forecasting is devoted to articles on the May 3, 1999, tornado outbreak.
  • “… end of road on tornado warning …”: Based on the author’s conversations with John Snow in his office at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, and with Josh Wurman, during two and a half days of tornado chasing (without catching one) in Oklahoma and Kansas on June 2, 3, and 4, 2005, and subsequent e-mail exchanges with both; Wurman’s Rotate 2005 Web site; and the Vortex2 Web site.
Page 200
  • Profile of Win-Chau Lee: Based on the author’s interview in Win-Chau Lee’s office in Boulder, Colorado, and subsequent e-mail exchanges; UCAR press release about the technique he helped develop for obtaining more information from radar about hurricanes. See also the NCAR Staff Notes Monthly article on the RAINEX hurricane research project.
Page 202
Pages 203–204
  • Tornado danger: Joshua Wurman, et al., “Low-Level Winds In Tornadoes and Potential Catastrophic Tornado Impacts in Urban Areas,” BAMS (January 2007): 31–36; Harold E. Brooks and Charles A. Doswell III, “Low-Level Winds in Tornadoes and Potential Catastrophic Tornado Impacts in Urban Areas,” BAMS (January 2008): 87–90 (commentary on the previous article); Kenneth A. Blumenfeld, “Low-Level Winds in Tornadoes and Potential Catastrophic Tornado Impacts in Urban Areas,” BAMS (October 2008): 1578–1579 (further commentary on the two previous articles).
Page 203
  • “If a business …”: Based on the author’s interviews with Chris Miller and Bob Parsons.

book jacket
The AMS Weather Book:The Ultimate Guide to America’s Weather
Jack Williams
With Forewords by Rick Anthes and Stephanie Abrams
©2009, 368 pages, 140 color plates, 70 halftones 8-1/2 x 10-7/8
Cloth $35.00 ISBN: 9780226898988

AMS Weather Book Home  •  University of Chicago Press Home