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May-June 2009

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From the Editor

In its 60-year history, Weatherwise has chronicled the accomplishments of some of the greatest minds in meteorology, from the magazine’s founder, David Ludlum, to the likes of Robert Millikan and Carl-Gustav Rossby. Their work continues to inform our understanding of meteorology today.

This issue of Weatherwise celebrates 2 of meteorology’s best-known figures, Ted Fujita and Jule Charney, and examines a couple of the lesser-known aspects of their lives.
In “The Mystery of the Crashing Plane and the A-Bomb,” an excerpt from Randy Cerveny’s new book, Weather’s Greatest Mysteries Solved!, Cerveny examines Fujita’s unusual thought process as he discovers a previously unknown type of weather—the microburst. Cerveny writes that Fujita, who is perhaps best known for the tornado
F-scale, was a “master of inductive logic,” and used this less-recognized form of reasoning to determine that a microburst was the culprit in the tragic crash of Eastern Airlines Flight 66 in New York in 1975.

Meanwhile, Nora Charney Rosenbaum remembers her father, Jule Charney, in “A Tribute in the Clouds,” written by Mish Michaels. The article examines how Charney, who is considered by many to be the father of numerical weather prediction, used his love of nature to inform his work. Charney’s fascination with the natural world lives on through his daughter’s paintings, many of which are inspired by Charney’s own photographs of meteorological phenomena.

Shifting gears from the great minds of the past to some of the fascinating work being done today, Nick D’Alto takes us inside the world of weatherability testing, where experts harness the weather to see how everyday products stand up to the harshest conditions. In this world, leaving paint chips out in the baking Sun for years on end or corroding a piece of metal with salt water aren’t just unfortunate accidents—they’re part of efforts to improve how materials stand up to the weather.

Finally, our departments in this issue help serve as a reminder that even with spring in the air, icy cold weather is never far from our minds. From recalling the big February snowstorm on the East Coast in Jeff Halverson’s “Highlights” to reading about the thrill of scaling the world’s highest peaks in Sean Potter’s “Retrospect” or Ed Darack’s “Weatherscapes,” it’s good to remember that it’s always winter somewhere. But if you’re like me and prefer the gentle warmth of the spring months to the icy drama of January and February, enjoy the season—it only lasts a little while!

—Margaret Benner

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