Excerpt: 'Weather's Greatest Mysteries Solved!' by Randy Cerveny

Weather?s Greatest Mysteries Solved

"Weather's Greatest Mysteries Solved!" by climatologist Randy Cerveny connects major historical events -- such as the extinction of the T-Rex and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s -- with climatic conditions and discusses how our changing climate will impact our future. It explores the discovery of new weather, such as "microburst" storms and new types of cloud formations. The book explains how today's climate affects a surprising array of global events -- for example, the number of rainy days in Bolivia have a significant impact on a year's total cocaine production there. It also looks at research that attempts to forecast weather for the next 10,000 years, which is essential information for mapping the future of the environments and communities that exist in different regions of the world.

Read a chapter from the book below, then click here to explore the "GMA" Library for more great reads.

Chapter 17: The Mystery of the Crashing Plane and the A-Bomb

After experiencing ten thousand years of weather, one would think that the people of modern civilization would have achieved a fundamentally complete knowledge of all types of weather. We wouldn't still be discovering any new types of weather, right? And, in any case, our own horrific weapons of mass destruction -- nuclear bombs, for instance -- couldn't possibly give us any clues about any such undiscovered weather? Enter our next weather detective, the renowned meteorologist Dr. Ted Fujita.

Time: June 1975

Location: JFK International Airport, New York City, New York, North America

The investigator slowly shook his head as he looked at the still-smoldering remains of the crashed airplane. He pulled out a paperback book–sized cassette recorder from his rain-drenched trench coat pocket and flipped it on.

"Continuing notes on the crash of Eastern Airlines 66 -- a Boeing 727," he spoke into the machine. "Latest word is that the total death toll is now over a hundred people. Pilot and copilot were both killed. We have fourteen survivors -- including two flight attendants who were stationed in the back row. That's not surprising given that the plane's largest intact section -- about forty-five feet long -- is the burned-out portion of the rear fuselage."

He glanced across the now-closed Rockaway Boulevard to the swampy field in which the plane had first crashed. "It appears that the aircraft initially crashed into the field adjoining the airport a full twenty-three hundred feet short of the runway." He tucked the recorder under his arm for a moment, flipped through his small spiral notebook, then pulled the recorder out, and once again spoke into the small machine. "Twenty-three hundred feet short of Runway 22-L. Eastern 66 then hit three of the towers supporting the runway approach lights."

He paused, shaking his head a bit. "In perhaps a final heroic attempt to regain control of the aircraft, Eastern 66 lifted and cleared the next three towers -- but then proceeded to take out the next four."

"After smashing into the swampy field adjoining the airport, the largest sections of the aircraft -- including the tail section -- spun across Rockaway Boulevard, ripping through a wire fence before coming to rest."

"Jack." The investigator's colleague walked up through the mucky grasses at the edge of the airport runway. "Sorry to bother you but the media are clamoring for an explanation. Do we have any ideas yet to give them?"

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