When Life Imitates Art: Tornado Outbreak & EYE OF THE STORM

My heart is aching this week for people who have been affected by the devastating outbreak of tornadoes. They’ve hit hardest in the South, but other parts of the country have seen tornado warnings as well — New York and New England…where tornadoes aren’t often an issue.

I’ve gotten more than one email this week from writer friends who have read EYE OF THE STORM, my Spring 2012 novel with Walker/Bloomsbury that deals with a future world where tornadoes are stronger and more widespread than they are now. “Did you know this was going to happen?” they want to know.  I didn’t… but this spring weather has been more than a little eerie to me, given the research I did for EYE OF THE STORM and all that I learned about the power these storms can unleash.

Last September, I traveled to Norman, Oklahoma to research this book at the National Severe Storms Laboratory and to interview notable meteorologist and storm photographer Dr. Howard Bluestein.

We talked about what might cause the kind of upswing in severe storms that happens in my novel, which is even much worse than what we’ve been seeing this week. His thoughts will be part of the discussion guide in the book’s back matter.  Here’s a sampling, where Bluestein discusses how scientists try to predict what changes in climate might mean for our future in terms of severe storms:

If we know what the environmental conditions are that can lead to tornadic thunderstorms, then what people have done is you can take a climate model and integrate it into the future to see whether or not those conditions will be more prevalent than they are right now.  So we know what the conditions are. We know that they happen frequently here in this part of the country in the springtime.  If you look at a climate model, it may turn out that these conditions are prevalent over a greater part of the country – maybe a smaller part of the country – maybe a slightly different time of year… these things are all possible.

Advance reader galleys of EYE OF THE STORM should be available before too long, and I’ve already been in touch with my editor about making some available to help raise funds for Red Cross disaster relief in Alabama.  For now…here are some tornado links that might be helpful in your classrooms or just interesting to read.

Why Suddenly So Many Tornadoes? An explanation from AccuWeather

A collection of last week’s storm photos from storm chaser and photographer Steve Miller

Latest on the outbreak from MSNBC

More tornado websites from the EYE OF THE STORM Discussion Guide.

How Tornadoes Work: A nice overview from “How Stuff Works”

Tornadoes: From the Weather Channel’s Storm Encyclopedia

National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center: See the storms the NWS is watching today!

National Geographic – Nature’s Fury feature on tornadoes

FEMA for Kids: The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s tornado site

Tornadoes…Nature’s Most Violent Storms from the NOAA Severe Storms Laboratory

If you know of other great online resources about tornadoes, I’d love to hear about them in comments. I’ll share more about a possible fund raiser/ARC giveaway when I have news.