David Browne
May 09, 2005 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Big Weather

Current Status
In Season
Mark Svengold
Henry Holt and Company
ActionAdventure, Nonfiction

We gave it an A-

As Mark Svenvold discovers in his lively, firsthand look at the cult (and culture) of storm chasers in Big Weather, hunting for tornadoes in the Midwest sometimes means driving for hours without witnessing much of anything. Luckily, he finds plenty to flesh out his book, from his one-legged codriver (an obsessed, Ahablike professional chaser) to the ”hotties” on The Weather Channel (part of a lively digression on the big money behind the weather industry). Other than a detailed recounting of the devastating tornadoes that demolished chunks of Oklahoma in 1999, though, Svenvold fails to deliver a whooshing finale à la Twister (a film, he notes, derided by many in this world). But the book’s low-key ending only underscores the randomness of the climate, and our futile attempts to corral it.

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