Tornado Watch


Now a book about severe
weather conditions in
easy-to-understand language


Missouri Residents
Non-Missouri Residents
$29.95 + tax & shipping
$29.95 + shipping


E-mail David at for multiple copy pricing.

Who should read this book?

  • ALL Public Safety Personnel
  • Law Enforcement, Fire, Rescue, EMS
  • Public Works Personnel
  • Community Storm Spotters
  • Amateur Radio/SkyWarn
  • Community Decision Makers
  • Elected Officals, Managers
  • Storm Chasers
  • Armchair Weather Enthusiasts

Have you ever wondered what a weather term meant that you heard?

This 300+ page book includes a glossary of weather terms & is filled with illustrations.

Do you want to be able to tell if those nasty-looking clouds are tornado clouds?



This book was originally prepared to benefit official storm spotters in their respective communities, as well as volunteer groups or public safety employees. However, those engaged in the popular pass time of storm chasing may also find considerable benefit and understanding for their quest by wading through these chapters. I would hope that even those with a general interest in thunderstorms might find information here to broaden their general knowledge of the interesting world we live in.

Although I have tracked weather and prepared forecast for many places around the world and nearly all of the U.S., most of my personal experience with severe and tornadic weather has been smack in the middle of the country. A lot of my explanations and illustrations will be reflecting the geographic bias of my experience. However, the main features of weather work the same everywhere on the planet so, those of you on the edges of the country will not be left out.

Before you begin to detect, track, examine, or provide a viable warning service of the hazards imposed by thunderstorms to life and property, you should have a working knowledge of what thunderstorms are. This includes understanding how they form, why they form and what types of behavior they are likely to exhibit. Is the book everything you need to know? Well, yes it is. Is this book everything you can know? Not even close. However, it will be a good starting point for learning more about weather in general and severe thunderstorms in particular should you decide to pursue that for yourself interests, or academically.

As your knowledge of weather increases, you will begin noticing things you may not have seen before. You may also find that some of the things you saw before were really something quite different.

Most of the chapters of this book will also serve to educate or least provide background to weather enthusiasts, or even to weather worriers. The book is not meant to supplant the training efforts conducted annually by National Weather Service personnel for storm spotters or to replace the awareness information distributed to the public. Rather the book should be seen as a resource to provide the meteorological background for a deeper understanding of the National Weather Service storm talks, and to provide some operational insight that goes beyond their two-hour presentations.

The first draft of this book was prepared in the mid-1980s. At that time, most of the “meteorology” in the book was confined to what one could see out of their window. Weather data was not readily available in those days. By the time I got around to dusting off that old, original manuscript, the internet had been born and grown up to contain nearly every piece of weather data known to exist, not the least of which was the availability of weather radar.

Weather (computer) modeling had also made great strides during the period and so much more can now be anticipated about storms from having that output available. Even with the aid of models, it is vigilance that is the primary ingredient to knowing when a storm is developing and where it is going next.

While all this new weather data is mostly good news, I perceive that a lot of folks in the public safety arena (who have occasional responsibility for severe weather in their communities) still find it confusing and even intimidating. I hope after you read through this book, you’ll find it less so. Once the nuts and bolts of the weather are understood and accepted, you can then concentrate more of your energies on storm watch day to the procedural things that will help you execute your mission of warning the public. A greater understanding of the weather will assist you in not scaring your public. A greater understanding of the weather should also increase your usefulness with your local National Weather Service office, as you provide them the observations they need to do their jobs.

Your vocabulary is about to shoot up. I have tried to leave the hard-core jargon, Math and Physics behind (Meteorology is a LOT of Math and LOT of Physics). However, just to know what the weather geeks are talking about, even if you aren’t delving into the data, you need to become familiar with a few new words. I have tried to make an explanation of each weather term as it is introduced. However, there is also a glossary at the end of the book, from your National Weather Service, with selected terms applicable to thunderstorms.

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