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Wind-powered car sets speed record, but gimme a wind wagon any day

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This, according to a chat we had in his office at the university not long ago as we wound down a conversation on weather extremes.

A word about Dr. Cerveny. By his own description, "I'm one of the more eclectic people" in the climate and weather world. "I do tons of strange stuff."

How strange? When not making a bid to become the Thor Heyerdahl of the Great Plains, try "weather detective."

"I did some stuff for the [Defense Department] on weather associated with prison escapes," he says. "Is there a specific kind of weather that you would be more likely to conduct a successful prison escape with?"

He's written one book on weather extremes, and has another due out this year.

Three years ago, he inadvertently landed a job as "rapporteur" for the World Meteorological Organization's Commission on Climatology.

He and some colleagues had noted the US's approach to archiving records of its wildest weather -- complete with a scientific panel to help sort out messy issues like: Was the anemometer badly calibrated? Did someone accidentally drop the thermometer in a pot of hot water before someone else took the temperature reading? In other words, are these readings legit?

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