1st Edition

Judging Extreme Weather Climate Science in Action

By Randy Cerveny Copyright 2024
    208 Pages 30 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    208 Pages 30 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Written by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Rapporteur of Weather and Climate Extremes, this book addresses the reality of extreme weather—how it occurs, how we measure it, and what it means for our future.

    Weather affects everybody, and with the increasing impact of climate change and the prevalence of storms, droughts and floods, it is clear that we are affecting all aspects of weather. Consequently, people love to talk about weather, complain about it, argue about it—and be intrigued by it. Twenty-four/seven coverage of the weather, however, has helped foster a tendency for marked overstatement—the creation of misconceptions, exaggerations and, frankly, even outright lies. Leading expert in weather and climate, Randy Cerveny, draws on his extensive experience with the WMO and personal research to give the reader a behind-the-scenes look at how weather and climate extremes are recorded and defined. He unpacks the science behind these extremes through a number of specific WMO investigations that span a diverse range of countries and weather events, including lightning, rain, hurricanes and tornadoes. Cerveny balances these factual accounts with playful interludes that detail bizarre and intriguing weather-related stories and anecdotes.

    This compelling book is a must read for all those interested in the science behind extreme weather.

    Knowledge Exchange Quick Takes featuring Professor Randall Cerveny to discuss Weather Extremes. (youtube.com)



    1. Extreme Weather, who cares?

    Interlude 1: Introducing Freaks of the Storm

    1. Enter the WMO

    Interlude 2: Freaks of Political Weather

    1. Operational Parameters: Choosing the best of the best

    Interlude 3: Weather Spies

    1. The Hottest Recorded Temperature in the World, Part 1

    Interlude 4: Freaks of the Heat

    1. The Hottest Recorded Temperature in the World, Part 2

    Interlude 5: More Freaks of the Heat

    1. The Highest Wind Ever Recorded

    Interlude 6: Freaks of the Wind

    1. The Most Rain, Misplaced Decimals, Normals and Other Errors

    Interlude 7: Freaks of Rain-making

    1. The Highest Pressures Ever Recorded—and those pesky calculations

    Interlude 8: Freak of Pressure

    1. The ‘Largest’ Hail but no Snow

    Interlude 9: Freaks of Hail

    1. Tropical Cyclones, the planet’s strongest storms

    Interlude 12: Freaks of Hurricanes

    1. Tornadoes, “Nature’s Ultimate Windstorms”

    Interlude 11: Freaks of Tornadoes

    1. Lightning … and Megalightning

    Interlude 12: Freaks of Lightning

    1. Death by Weather

    Interlude 13: Safety Freaks

    1. The Antarctic Region

    Interlude 14: Freaks of the Antarctic

    1. Getting the Word Out

    Interlude 15: Freaks of the Media

    1. The Future!






    Randy Cerveny is a President’s Professor in Geographical Sciences who specializes in weather and climate at Arizona State University. He obtained his doctorate from the University of Nebraska in 1987, has studied weather around the world, and has stood on all seven continents. His research has ranged from studying the weather associated with prison escapes to weather of the far future. His research has garnered the attention of the BBC, CNN, ABC News, NPR and others. He was an expert for the Weather Channel and currently appears on the National Geographic’s show What on Earth? His first book, Freaks of the Storm, was published in 2006 while his second book, Weather’s Greatest Mysteries Solved!, was published in 2009. Since 2007 he has served as the World Meteorological Organization’s Rapporteur of Weather and Climate Extremes, the person in charge of assessing and validating world extremes, such as world’s hottest temperature.

    "Professor Cerveny is known as the authoritative source for confirming the extreme weather - climate records. In this book, he provides compelling behind-the-process insights and jaw-dropping facts about some of the world's most extreme weather."

    Marshall Shepherd is the past president of the American Meteorological Society, Fellow of the US National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering, and a well-known TV personality with Forbes Magazine and the Weather Channel

    "Professor Cerveny leads as the world’s go-to source for the real story on weather extremes. Here, he gives a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at this important science."

    Richard Alley is a named Professor of Geosciences at Penn State University and a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society. He is the author of an award-winning book on climate change and ice cores, The Two-Mile Time Machine

    "Judging Extreme Weather: Climate Science in Action is entertaining, informative, and authoritative. Professor Cerveny discusses subjects that are very important today and will become even more important in the future."

    Elbert (Joe) Friday is a former Director of the US Weather Service, a retired US Air Force Colonel and a past president of the American Meteorological Society, and a US Permanent Representative to the WMO

    "Everyone has a weather story, but as the ‘world custodian of extreme weather records,’ professor Cerveny has THE quintessential compilation of wild weather stories. Not only are they fascinating, but by delving into the science of extreme weather, he helps to shed light on the differences between climate and weather… A distinction that is of critical importance for us to understand as we continue to navigate the uncharted waters of the increasing climate crisis. From changes in wildfire and hurricane patterns to extreme heat waves, our planet is undoubtedly changing right before our eyes. Professor Cerveny takes us on a wild ride, investigating the science behind the world’s most extreme weather records in a way that’s understandable, shocking, and even, dare I say, humorous at times."

    George Kourounis, Storm Chaser & Royal Canadian Geographical Society Explorer-In-Residence

    "Professor Cerveny’s new book, following the erstwhile TV detective Joe Friday, gives ‘just the facts, ma’am!’ on worldwide extreme weather. In an entertaining fashion, he draws the reader into climate science by including the interesting ‘back stories’ of major atmospheric scientists. Fundamentally, this book runs the gauntlet of extreme weather episodes, and will be a major climate resource for years to come."

    Joe Golden is a retired Senior Meteorologist at the NOAA Forecast Systems Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, USA, and is recognized as one of the top international experts on tornadoes and waterspouts