Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather” as Want to Read:
Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  133 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
Experience the most devastating storms of the last fifty years through the eyes of the scientific visionaries who took them on and tamed them. Science and politics collide in this thrilling account of America's struggle for protection against the deadly threat of violent weather. Warnings tells the dramatic true stories of the unsung weather warriors who save innocent live ...more
Hardcover, 286 pages
Published May 1st 2010 by Greenleaf Book Group
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Warnings, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Warnings

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 262)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Dr. Carl Ludwig Dorsch
Jul 19, 2010 Dr. Carl Ludwig Dorsch rated it it was ok
Shelves: reality

A description of the development of American severe weather warning systems focusing on tornados, but covering also the reception and integration of Fujita's downburst theories and including what reads as a fairly lengthy but not particularly informative aside on hurricane forecasting, relating specifically (and almost exclusively) to 1992's hurricane Andrew and the Katrina catastrophe of 2005.

Smith's history seldom reaches farther back than 1948, but this is because the volume is also somethin
Aug 18, 2011 Marcie rated it liked it
I don't think I would have found this as interesting if I hadn't moved from the mountain west (with its relatively mild weather) to the midwest (with frequent severe storms and tornado warnings). It helps that my daughter is fascinated by tornadoes/weather and includes storm chaser/meteorologist on her what-I-want-to-be list. I was fascinated by how the weather warning system, which I have taken for granted (and will no longer), developed over the last 65 years. The warnings and watches that are ...more
Emily Domitrovic hamburg
May 14, 2016 Emily Domitrovic hamburg rated it it was amazing
An enjoyable and fascinating book that details the evolution of meteorology and forecasting over the past 70 years. It truly gave me a new appreciation for the good work done behind the scenes and taken for granted in this field that has reduced the loss of life and property both on the ground and in the aviation world due to advances in technology and communication processes. Smith also showed how no amount of technology can compensate for the bureaucracy and incompetence of the government in s ...more
When I first requested this book for review, little did I know I would be reading it and beginning my review amidst forest fires, smoky air, and strong wind gusts! My interest in requesting the book is twofold: I recall Hurricane Frieda roaring through Vancouver, BC (my home) in 1962, extremely rare for that area; my Dad's cousin, TV weatherman in Portland, OR, first to recognize and forecast it, spent the night updating on air. Weather has always fascinated me, not only because "everybody talks ...more
Jun 24, 2011 Book rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather by Mike Smith

" Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather " is a fantastic book that captures the evolution of meteorology through the personal accounts of Mike Smith. Like the perfect storm in which converging elements collide, this book is part memoir, part science and all real. This wonderful 304 page-book is composed of the following twenty-three chapters: 1. The Ruskin Heights Tornado, 2. No One Ever Knew it Was Comin
Jun 08, 2011 Taraza rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in weather
As a life-long resident Tornado Alley, I found this book gripping and fascinating. I read it last year before all our horrible tornadoes this spring, and I can only wonder what the death toll would have been without the warning system we have in place now. I was especially dumbfounded at how long it took for the tornado warning system to be developed--the first city wide alarm was in the late 1960's! The US Weather Service kept weather forecasters from giving tornado warnings because they though ...more
Elaine Nelson
Jul 12, 2010 Elaine Nelson rated it liked it
Primarily the story of how the tornado warning system came to be, including the author's participation as a TV weather guy and then founder of a private weather service. And when he sticks to that, it's good stuff.

Periodically, there's these sort of anti-government zingers that just hit me the wrong way, although I can see where they come from, given his experience. Also, the last quarter of the book (except for the last chapter) goes into great detail about hurricanes (specifically Andrew &
David Blinn
As someone who appreciates the sciences and those who devote themselves to its practice, "Warnings" helped me to understand just how much I underappreciate the science of meteorology. The book opens with a visceral account of a deadly train derailment on Amtrak's Vermonter line in 2005 when the tracks are washed out due to a flash flood. While reading this passage, I thought to myself, wait a second, I used to regularly ride Amtrak's Vermonter line back in 2005. Why didn't I know about this acci ...more
May 31, 2012 John rated it really liked it
I’ve been a bit of a weather nerd since I was a kid. One of the first things I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a tornado chaser (still working on that one!) So I was eager to read Warnings by Mike Smith. I wasn’t disappointed! It’s a fascinating history not just of the development of the severe weather warning systems in the U.S., but also of the general advancement of meteorology over the past half century+.

A word about the author: I’d heard the name Mike Smith before. He’s a pretty big de
Jun 19, 2015 Hannah rated it it was ok
I LOVE books about weather. And if someone is looking for a fun yet informative story, this is a pretty decent one. I give it two stars however, because I strongly feel that if you go into the history (that isn't yours personally) there should be references on where you found the information. He states that he was good friends with Fujita (which is awesome!) but he could still cite his work as well as other historical information.
Aug 09, 2011 Lorna rated it really liked it
Oh, I love a good weather book. The information was not new to me -- having read it Nancy Mathis' Storm Warning -- but it still stuns me to know that it was forbidden to warn of tornadoes pretty much until the 1960s. Especially with the hysteria some of the local news outlets whip up today! But I certainly appreciate the development of radar technology. When I was a kid, one of the tornadoes of the 1974 Super Outbreak passed within a few miles of our house. We had no clue. Going back and studyin ...more
Feb 02, 2014 Eric rated it it was amazing
Shelves: weather
Mr Smith writes an excellent book outlining the transition of mindset within the Weather Bureau (now the National Weather Service (NWS)) with regard to severe weather warnings. I particularly enjoyed the details surrounding the subject of tornadoes, both historical and present day. I also enjoyed the perspective from a commercial provider although I think the addition of a perspective from the NWS would have been good as well.
Jan 12, 2014 Diana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love reading books about the weather, and there are several great books out there about grand-scale disasters that shape us. Warnings looks at these storms through the lens of a meteorologist dedicated to predicting storms. Mike Smith shows us how these major storms have shaped our understanding of the science of weather, as well as how our growing understanding of weather shaped our ability to warn citizens, plan for disaster, and ultimately save lives. It is also a history of the meteorologi ...more
Jon Christianson
Jul 11, 2010 Jon Christianson rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jon by: Roger Pielke Jr.
Mike Smith does an excellent job of walking the reader through the history (and progress) of the National Weather Service in Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather. Smith incorporates a number of first-hand severe weather accounts dating back to the mid-1950s, which allows the book to read more like a story than a series of weather reports. Based on Smith’s meteorological experience and accomplishments (sold his company AccuWeather in 2006), he does a fair amount of self-promo ...more
Apr 22, 2015 Don rated it it was ok
I've looked forward to reading this for ages as I'm fascinated by severe weather and forecasting. The book was most interesting with its accounts of the Tinker Air Force base tornadoes and the gripping acount of the Greensburg EF5, but the author's prodigious ego inserted itself so often throughout the book that I just couldn't get beyond it. It seems extraordiarily biased towards for-profit weather forecasting and scornful of everyone else. The author appears to believe that he's the most emine ...more
Lori Britton-levack
This is a very informational book on how meterology has changed over almost 60 years. The information provided on past storms, and how prediction of life and property loss storms has drastically changed, and the different hurtles that were and still are present in effective warnings systems in place. The burecratic side of weather warnings is amazing, as is the un-decisive nature of federal ownership of when or how to word a warning. If you love meterology, and knowledge of history, you will enj ...more
Deborah Johnson
May 09, 2011 Deborah Johnson rated it it was amazing
I thought this would be a good handbook to read because I had just moved to the midwest in the middle of tornado alley. It was so much better than I could have ever expected - it was exciting and took me right into the middle of some of the most extreme storms of recent years. I would say that everyone from New Orleans should be reading this book! The Katrina chapters were so emotional. It is not at all a science book it is a life saver and a must read for anyone who has ever experienced extreme ...more
Nov 02, 2011 Candy rated it it was amazing
Talk about an amazing read. The book chronicles the history of our weather warning system, focusing mainly on tornadoes. From the days when the NWS couldn't even mention or think about issuing a tornado warning to our high tech warning systems that we have now, this book covers it all without being too geeky for the average reader. As someone who has been 3 tornadoes in person and living in the Midwest, I definitely came away with a greater appreciation for our warning system.
Jan 12, 2012 Fincalian rated it liked it
I enjoyed learning about the history of weather warning systems in America. Some of the information presented was quite shocking, and overall, this was an excellent book. My only complaint is that you can tell the author is not a writer. I felt parts of the book were disorganized, and his writing became repetitive at times, but I'm still glad I took the time to read this book.
Penn State Brandywine Environmental Inquiry
Book extras for those that have purchased the book:

A video by the author that inspired him to write the book:

Jun 23, 2014 Katie rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best meteorology books I've read. Though at a couple points there were some dips in my interest, on a whole I was captivated by the beauty and intensity of the writing. I was moved to tears at some points and also thoroughly disgusted at others. It was a moving and informative book I would recommend to anyone.
Mar 29, 2015 Shawn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned, science
A history of weather forecasting which focuses on the advances of technology and politics that made it all possible. A wonderful modern tale of science history.
Update: 4-14- Currently having my high school Freshman earth-space science class reading it and the students are enjoying it almost as much as I did.
Lake County Public Library Indiana
For anyone who thought that tornado sirens and warnings were a logical step, think again. This is an enthralling history of meteorology and the thought behind it, as well as a fascinating account of meteorologists standing behind their emergency forecasts, at the risk of losing their jobs. --SS/SJ
Aug 02, 2010 Staci rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
I'm fascinated by most things weather related. This book was no exception - with one drawback. The acronyms!

I found myself lost in the letters and finally just had to skip over them in order to stay focused on the meat of the book.
Christa Pettis
Jul 06, 2013 Christa Pettis rated it really liked it
Excellent read!!!! I absolutely enjoyed reading this fascinating book. It was VERY interesting to read about the politics behind weather warnings. So ridiculous, and crazy!

Nov 03, 2010 Megan rated it liked it
This was halfway between a great, informative non-fiction book and a fairly well-written memoir.
I would have preferred it to be one or the other.

Also, needs pictures.
Louanne Caspar
Apr 08, 2012 Louanne Caspar rated it liked it
If you want to learn more about meteorology, read this book. Dry material but the author tries to keep it interesting.
Dec 01, 2013 Matt rated it it was amazing
Good monograph on the Joplin, MO tornado
Mar 12, 2013 K. rated it liked it
Shelves: science
More likely would have had 3.5 stars, but Smith's tendency to insert his company's name got a little grating. The history is fairly good, and Smith knows his stuff, having been on the scene or known the people that were involved in major developments in weather forecasting.
Jan 30, 2012 PWRL marked it as to-read
Shelves: 2012-new
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
First Chapter Can Be Read (Free): 1 3 Apr 21, 2013 08:23AM  
  • Storm Kings: America's First Tornado Chasers
  • F5: The Devastating Tornado Outbreak of 1974
  • The Great Society Subway: A History of the Washington Metro
  • The Ghost of Flight 401
  • The Ancient Engineers
  • 211 Things a Bright Boy Can Do
  • Storm Warning: The Story of a Killer Tornado
  • The Great Hurricane: 1938
  • I Never Knew That About England
  • Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965
  • The Power of the Sea: Tsunamis, Storm Surges, Rogue Waves, and Our Quest to Predict Disasters
  • The Total Outdoorsman Manual (Field & Stream)
  • Strange Victory: Hitler's Conquest of France
  • High Steel: The Daring Men Who Built the World's Greatest Skyline
  • America's Deadliest Twister: The Tri-State Tornado of 1925
  • Rescue of the Bounty: Disaster and Survival in Superstorm Sandy
  • At All Costs: How a Crippled Ship and Two American Merchant Mariners Turned the Tide of World War II
  • Sneakier Uses for Everyday Things
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.
More about Mike Smith...

Share This Book

“While meteorology as an applied science has made tremendous strides in the past fifty years, we have not yet discovered a cure for bureaucracy.” 1 likes
“Meanwhile, the residents of the 138,000 damaged buildings continued to swelter and suffer. Local Miamians, as well as citizens from Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, attempted to drive bottled water, food, clothes, and other supplies into the stricken area. They were successful during the first few hours; but they were shut down by the end of the first day. The same bureaucrats who were giving mixed signals to Washington seemed to prefer organized suffering to disorganized relief.” 0 likes
More quotes…