Stormy Weather: Meteorologist and Author Mike Smith Talks Tornadoes (Video)

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When the Sirens Were Silent: How the Warning System Failed a Community
Acclaimed meteorologist Mike Smith shows what happens when the warning system fails.

It takes some serious moxie to claim @USWeatherExpert as your Twitter handle, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s Mike Smith. As the founder and CEO of WeatherData, Smith makes it his business to warn people about extreme weather, and, in doing so, saving lives.

A native Kansas Citian, Smith became obsessed with dangerous weather at the age of five, when he witnessed the 1957 Ruskin Heights F5 tornado that left 44 dead.

In addition to launching Smith’s career in meteorology, that storm led to the establishment of the government’s severe weather warning system, which Smith discussed in his 2010 Midwest-centric book Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather.

This Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library, Smith returns to his Kansas City home to discuss a new book that looks at the warning system from the other side.

When the Sirens Were Silent examines how the system failed to protect a community – Joplin, Missouri – caught off guard during a critical moment in May 2011. (Order the book.)

We’ve put together a special YouTube trailer to highlight Mike’s visit.

Whether you’re a weather buff, storm chaser, or just someone who’s interested in the way storms affect (and occasionally threaten) our lives in the Midwest, you’ll want to be there for Mike’s talk. Bring your own umbrella.

Related viewing: Joplin 5:41 book trailer

About the Author

Jason Harper is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library.
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