18 Miles: The Epic Drama of Our Atmosphere and Its Weather

The weather affects everyone on a daily basis; we check the forecast to see if it'll be rainy or sunny, or to track the latest storm, yet how many of us completely understand how and why there are clouds, storms and seasons? In 18 Miles, essayist and poet Christopher Dewdney (Acquainted with the Night) explores the complex and multi-layered atmosphere that lies like a thin film over the earth. At its deepest, it is only 18 miles thick, yet without this skim layer, none of us would exist.

Using humor, personal stories, details of meteorological history and an incredible amount of scientific data, Dewdney describes each level of our atmosphere, explaining how clouds are formed and the evolution of the atmosphere on the planet. He shares the way hurricanes and tornadoes are born, the scales used to classify them and his experience of living through Hurricane Katrina. Thunderstorms and the various types of lightning--sprites, blue jets, elves, pixies, gnomes and trolls--are described in lush detail. He includes fascinating tidbits about the early rainmakers and the way the U.S. and other countries "seed" clouds in order to create rain. Covering the driest places on the planet and the wettest, the mildest clouds and the most destructive, Dewdney has written a complex, entertaining and highly informative book that rivals the information one might find in a college classroom. For anyone interested in the air we breathe, 18 Miles is a great addition to any library. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

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