A Comment About the Amazon Reviews For "When the Sirens Were Silent"

Because there has been so much interest pertaining to the second of my two books the past few days, I want to -- for the first time -- discuss the several negative, over the top 'reviews' posted at Amazon. All of these came from National Weather Service (NWS) employees and groupies (amazingly, the NWS has groupies).

While they usually go a good job when tornadoes threaten, in this case the NWS's and local emergency management's operational errors on May 22, 2011, caused the Joplin tornado to produce the only triple digit death toll from a single tornado since the federal civilian tornado warning program began in the late 1950's. 

Rather than calmly discussing the points made in my book, there is a lot of mudslinging and over the top nonsense. Here is an example from one of the one-star reviews:

...[him] claiming that the NWS was issuing faulty forecasts of where the tornado was heading. Th[at] may well have been done...

Even this one-star reviewer has to concede the NWS warnings were faulty. The rest of the reviews are along this line. The point is that unless we fix the issues I reveal in Sirens it could well happen again.

Here's another that is especially amusing:

Mike further tells us that the NWS incorrectly warned for baseball-sized hail, but Mike didn't see a single large hailstone in any of the videos he watched. So those videos make the warning incorrect? He has to be joking, right?

He's not.

How do we know there was no large hail? Because the National Weather Service's own log of 409 hail reports that day does not have a single hail report -- of any size -- in Joplin or from any location in Jasper or Newton counties of Missouri, the counties in which Joplin resides.
Map of tornado (red), hail (green) and damaging thunderstorm wind (blue) reports from May 22, 2011.
When you add the NWS's own log of no hail in the area (not just Joplin), no video of any hail and no hail mentioned in any of the interviews I conducted, I believe it is safe to conclude the NWS warning of very large hail was incorrect. The rest of these silly reviews, which stand out from the objective reviews, are along the same lines.

So, if you'll allow me, here are three reviews from highly regarded meteorologists that were not and are not now affiliated with either the NWS or AccuWeather (the company for which I work):

Jason Samenow, Meteorologist and Weather Editor for The Washington Post
The book, a quick read, is a stirring call to action to improve tornado warning communication in this country.

Smith provides a gripping countdown of the events leading up to the tornado, critiquing the series of decisions and actions from forecasters and emergency management and describing their consequences. His commentary is insightful and written plainly enough for the layperson to understand.
Smith’s latest contribution is an important one.
Roger Pielke, Sr. - University of Colorado and former state climatologist for Colorado
This is a must-read book for anyone interested in weather, but, even more importantly, to anyone living in tornado regions.
Amy Freeze - Meteorologist for WABC TV, New York City
Smith offers an account of the storm timing and the warning failure and what can be done to prevent such a tragedy again. I read the book on the anniversary of the Joplin tornado – which the book uses as it’s main focus. It’s a minute by minute countdown of the events leading up to the tornado. In the book, Smith critiques the series of decisions and actions from National Weather Service forecasters and emergency management. The book is an overdue call to action.

They, and the many other 5-Star reviewers of Sirens seem to find a great of value in the book. Since we priced the ebook version at only $2.99, read it for yourself. See if you believe I made the case the people of Joplin were ill-served that terrible day. Then, let's make sure this never happens again!


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