In 1947, Robert H. Simpson lifted off in a specially equipped plane, flying directly into the path of a storm that would send most people running for cover. For more than four hours he observed Typhoon Martha from its eerily calm eye, later describing it in Scientific American as "a coliseum of clouds whose walls on one side rose vertically and on the other were banked like the galleries in a great opera house." For Simpson this was just one of his many pioneering explorations of hurricanes and extreme storms. Over his decades-long career his research led to great leaps in our understanding of tropical meteorology and our approach to hurricane safety. He was the first director of the National Hurricane Research Project and a director of the National Hurricane Center, though he may be best known as co-creator of the widely used Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, familiar to anyone who has heard a reporter use the words "category five." Simpson's memoirs take readers from his experience with the Mississippi Flood of 1927 to his travels to study weather across the globe.
Along the way he crosses paths with other weather greats, including his trailblazing wife, meteorologist Joanne Simpson. Hurricane Pioneer is a riveting firsthand account of a revolutionary time in meteorology.
Robert H. Simpson was the first director of the National Hurricane Research Project and former director of the National Hurricane Center. He lives in Washington, DC. Neal M. Dorst is a meteorologist in the Hurricane Research Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.