Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cliff Mass - Book vs Blog

If you haven't figured it out already, I'm a total weather geek. I have my cheap weather station out by the veggie garden, I check three different weather reports at least twice a day (and if there's a storm coming, more than that), and at times I try to figure out what the weather's going to be like at my house.

So when Cliff Mass published his The Weather of the Pacific Northwest, you know I was jumping up and down to get my hands on a copy. And, well, I am rather disappointed.

First of all, the book is set up awkwardly. The figures referred to in the text are often on following pages, so one has turn pages back and forth to reference the figures. This isn't Cliff Mass's fault, but rather the publisher's, and I hope if there are subsequent printings of the book, that this will be addressed.

The book is very repetitive. It's as if he expects everyone to either skip chapters and go straight to the stormy stuff, or have the memory of a gnat. Over and over again, he re-explains the effects of rising and sinking air. Okay, we get it already! Once would have been sufficient, and he could've saved ten pages of the book.

The book covers too large an area. I think of Cliff Mass as a PUGET SOUND forecaster, not a NORTHWEST forecaster. And as such, I would have preferred seeing the book limited to the Puget Sound region. The heat of southern Oregon, the ice storms of Portland, why there's such good wind surfing on the Columbia - these things seem out of place in a book that's 75% about Western Washington.

Lastly, some authors just put me to sleep. I'm not sure why, but they do. I mean, I'm really excited about this topic, I should be reading the book cover to cover without stopping, right? Yet night after night, I would get through a page and a half and fall asleep. The writing is rather dry. Professorial, maybe? His excitement over weather which you hear when he speaks just isn't coming through to me.


I just love Cliff Mass's blog: Cliff Mass Weather Blog. Here his enthusiasm shines, and I'm reading each word with relish. The things that are going through weather forecasters' heads are there for you to see - and why they screwed up. The topics are always timely - I'm not reading about snowstorms in July, I'm reading about either what just happened, or what's about to happen. Almost experiential learning.

Anyway, I feel I'm learning much more from his blog than his book. I finally found out why there are radar blips when there isn't a cloud in the sky! The figures are right there where you need them, too, and they're better than those in the book. I'm sure I learned something from his book that I didn't get out of a library's textbook on weather, but it's lost on all the minutiae that makes Puget Sound weather so appealing.

1 comment:

dawn said...

I have a working knowledge of weather ;-) . I just want to know when it will be nice, when it will rain, and when it is going to freeze, before it happens. And, I am looking forward to warm weather in the next couple days...finally.