I love a good thunderstorm – always have. The one this past Sunday evening certainly qualified as a “fun” one, complete with the requisite light show and a couple of heart-stopping claps of thunder. (More importantly, and with a nod to safety, it didn’t seem to cause much, if any, damage.) The short-lived drama and beauty of a summer thunderstorm is one thing, though. The extreme weather events that seem to be getting more and more common are a whole other game – and definitely not a fun one. (Think Toronto, recently.)
The UK’s Guardian newspaper actually devotes a whole section of its website to coverage of extreme weather events around the world. From earthquakes and floods in China and wildfires in California, to Indian Ocean tsunamis and heat waves in Britain, there’s no shortage of material. For images, National Geographic has a particularly stunning set of extreme weather photographs (check out this one from Switzerland of an ice-covered car and trees after spray from Lake Geneva froze due to a dip in the polar jet stream).
Strangely beautiful as these images are, the story of extreme weather often comes with a discomforting premise. Titles like the Weather of the future : Heat Waves, Extreme storms, and Other Scenes from a Climate-changed Planet by Heidi Cullen and Global Weirdness: Severe Storms, Deadly Heat Waves, Relentless Drought, Rising Seas, and the Weather of the Future, produced by Climate Central, can help us explore the link between climate change and the kinds of weather increasingly being experienced.
Beyond its obvious links to science, extreme weather has also inspired a number of fictional works. First among them (in my movie-loving brain, anyway) is Twister, but there are some book options that I definitely want to check out. Category Five by T. J. McGregor is about a hurricane hurtling over the Atlantic Ocean and the members of a research team who need to retrieve fellow scientist from the storm’s path. In Hazard by Richard Hughes is a work of historical fiction about a merchant steamship, The Archimedes, destined for the Panama Canal that finds itself swept up into the vortex of a massive hurricane – crew and cargo are tossed for 4 days in this tale set in the summer of 1929.
Taking a topic and exploring it through all kinds of information and story – from media reports and images to research information, escapist fiction to the movies – is always great fun, but especially during the lazy days of summer. We welcome you to head on over to your local branch, or just start scrolling through our catalogue, and see where your curiosity takes you! As always, if you have any questions we’re just a phone call, message or tweet away.