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Heavy Weather by Bruce Sterling

It’s 2030 and the world’s in terrible shape because of the careless decisions in the twentieth century that trashed the environment.  Antibiotic-resistant strains of tuberculosis and cholera ravage the overpopulated cities. No real governments or standard currency exists, and the global economy is in chaos. 

The weather has mutated into a permanent cycle of strangeness – constant tornadoes and other disasters which have turned most of the United States into a dust bowl.  Hence, the title of the book. 

The story opens when 26 year-old Jane, a former heiress, rescues her brother Alex from a shady Mexican clinic.  She drags him back to the Texas – Oklahoma “Tornado Alley” where she and a bunch of eccentric hackers, losers, and storm freaks known as “The Troupe” are trying to document the upcoming mega-tornado of all time:  the legendary F-6 that threatens to turn Tornado Alley into a permanent storm which will become Earth’s version of the Great Red Spot on Jupiter. 

Jane is in love with the mathematician-leader of the Troupe, Jerry Mulcahey. She’s also finding new purpose and stability in her new calling.  Alex, the most interesting character in the book, uses his innate shrewdness and unflappable calm to thrive in his dangerous new environment.  Hanging around the fringes is Leo, Jerry’s menacing brother. Leo’s shocking agenda is gradually revealed to threaten them all!