Big Weather: Chasing Tornadoes in the Heart of America

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Macmillan, May 2, 2006 - Nature - 304 pages
"Svenvold clearly paid his dues in Tornado Alley . . . Wherever he touches down, he informs and amuses, and marvels not only at the weather, but also at the stranger side of Middle America." --National Geographic

Why do some people chase the kind of storms that would send most people running for their lives? Why does devastating weather maintain a primal hold on our collective imagination?

With Matt Biddle, an Ahab-like veteran storm chaser, as his guide, Mark Svenvold draws a portrait of a culture enamored by extremes during a 6,000-mile journey through the heartland. Along the way, he encounters an assortment of eccentric characters, including a duo named the Twister Sisters and an IMAX filmmaker who drives an armor-plated truck. And they're all after one thing.

At the heart of the excitement are the awe-inspiring events themselves--a tornado that levels a small Nebraska town, wild twisters that spin cars into the air and, in the case of unlucky Donald Staley, destroy three of his homes in succession.

An entertaining narrative brimming with stylish prose, Big Weather is a wryly observed meditation on the weather and the subculture of catastrophilia, the culture and commerce of catastrophic weather.


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BIG WEATHER: Chasing Tornadoes in the Heart of America

User Review  - Kirkus

What Tony Horwitz did for Confederate re-enactors, poet Svenvold does for storm chasers.Svenvold (Elmer McCurdy, 2002, etc.) got interested in tornados when, during a trip to Oklahoma (the state whose ... Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Well, The problem with this book is that Mark Svenvold quotes me and how I run my business but then he never contacted me regarding what he wrote. His facts are wrong and from what I saw in his book, it was pretty much a total lie. I'm glad I found this book in the used section since it's not even worth the paper it is written on. Doug Kiesling, BNVN - Breaking News Video Network. 


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About the author (2006)

Mark Svenvold's first book of nonfiction,Elmer McCurdy: The Misadventures in Life and Afterlife of an American Outlaw, was a Book Sense 76 pick. Poet in residence at Fordham University, Svenvold has won The Nation's "Discovery" Award for poetry. He lives in New York City with his wife, the novelist Martha McPhee, and two children, Livia and Jasper.

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