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Reviewed by:
  • Florida Weather, 2nd edition
  • Gregory J. Carbone
Florida Weather, 2nd edition Morton D. Winsberg . University Press of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, 2003. 218 pp., maps, photographs, references, appendices, and index. $16.95 paper (ISBN 0-8130-2684-9)

Fourteen years ago, Morton Winsberg wrote a wonderful little book on Florida weather. He introduced the state's weather patterns to a lay audience, particularly to tourists or those considering a move. The text described and explained both sublime and dramatic features of Florida's weather and climate in accurate, understandable language. The newly released second edition maintains its predecessor's readability, updates its statistics, and introduces several new subjects to readers.

As in his first edition of Florida Weather, Winsberg uses crisp text and an appropriate number of maps to describe the state's weather and climate patterns. Clear explanations help readers understand the processes responsible for these patterns. These include details on what causes a sea breeze, how land surfaces modify air masses, how water bodies and urban surfaces affect air temperature, and the causes of advection fog and summer thunderstorms. The opening chapter on climate controls provides the main vehicle for such explanations, but they continue throughout the subsequent four chapters, each devoted to a season. The organization around seasons mirrors that of the first edition. It is logical in most cases-cold air outbreaks, thunderstorms, and hurricanes all occur predominantly in one or two seasonsdespite the tempered nature of Florida seasons. Winsberg shoehorns into this structure a few important topics (like droughts and floods) not confined to a particular season. Each season and all relevant phenomena get fair treatment. Each chapter includes severe weather events and storm preparation tips. Hurricanes get a bit more extensive coverage, given their importance as a hazard and readers' likely interest. The discussion of the physical aspects of tropical cyclones, their increasing threat to society, and specific examples (such as the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 and Hurricane Andrew of 1992) offers an exciting conclusion to the book.

Throughout the text, Winsberg balances a general description of average climatic conditions with weather events that either provide a specific example or illustrate anomalies from the norm. He also includes personal recollections of weather events, such as canoeing during a spring squall-line thunderstorm. While anecdotal, these interludes add color to specific topics. Indeed, part of the book's appeal remains its readability. In lieu of extensive climate statistics, the text focuses on certain highlights and allows an appendix to provide the details-weekly air and ocean temperature and precipitation statistics, a list of twentieth-century hurricanes and their impacts, average freeze dates, and data on fog, relative humidity, sky cover, and heating and cooling degree days. All statistics were updated from the Southeast Regional Climate Center database.

Several topics are new or expanded [End Page 291] from the first edition: airborne allergens and air pollution, urban heat islands, El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and the greenhouse effect and climate change. Directly experienced by Floridians, air quality and heat island effects are topics well suited to the book. The sprinkling of ENSO references throughout the text reflects its important influence on Florida weather and addresses a public curiosity periodically fueled by the media. The treatment of how human activities may contribute to climate change is balanced and includes discussion of why one should care. Winsberg's presentation synthesizes major research findings, emphasizes their relevance to Florida (such as potential sealevel rise), and demonstrates how Florida temperature data alone do not provide conclusive evidence for climate change. Winsberg expanded the bibliography in the new edition and now references each source directly in the text-a welcome improvement. Regrettably, a few sketches relating to processes controlling Florida weather have disappeared in the second edition, and there are at least two examples (pp. 85 and 112) where figures seem disconnected from the text. These are minor quibbles, however, compensated for by a number of newly drafted, high-quality graphics. Since the first edition of Florida Weather was issued, a number of popular weather and climate books have been published. These include guides to atmospheric phenomena, famous storms, natural and anthropogenic climatic change, and the...


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