Wednesday 29 June 2022

Book Review: The Royal Meteorological Society Weather A-Z

Like many outdoors people I’m obsessed with the weather. I check forecasts daily and have several weather apps on my phone, including the wonderful Blitzortung lightning map and of course the Mountain Weather Information Service.  Whilst detailed knowledge of meteorology isn’t essential weather does play a major part in outdoor trips so I think it’s wise to know at least a little about it, especially with regard to aspects that can affect safety such as wind speed, blizzards and thunderstorms. I often change route plans to suit predicted conditions. As I write this a hill walk tomorrow may be abandoned as thunderstorms are forecast.

Weather is a complex subject with far more to it than storms and sunshine, as shown by this fascinating book from The Royal Meteorological Society. The book covers every type of weather phenomenon worldwide and is packed with spectacular images from the annual Weather Photographer of the Year competition.

As well as the A-Z of over 600 weather terms explained in scientific and geographic detail the book has more detailed special features on fourteen phenomena, such as snow, jet streams, halo phenomena, and cloud spotting for beginners – the last written by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, author of The Cloudspotter’s Guide.

I’ve been dipping into this book on and off the last few months and have learnt a great deal of wonderful stuff about the weather I didn’t know before. Common terms are explained too. I didn’t know that drizzle specifically means very small water droplets with a diameter between 0.2 and 0.5mm or that mist is when visibility is more than 1km and relative humidity is more than 95% but if the visibility is less than 1km it’s fog.  

For anyone interested in weather this is a very useful and entertaining book.

The Royal Meteorological Society Weather A-Z is written and edited by Adrienne Le Maistre with sections by Gavin Pretor-Pinney and Viel Richardson. It’s published by the Natural History Museum, London, and costs £12.99.

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