Friday, September 23, 2005

About Hurricanes, Science-Fiction and Recon Missions

Cracking the code for hurricane forecasts
Go beyond the skinny black line to get a clearer picture of storm's effect
First, forecasters take data [...] and come up with specific forecast points: these predict the storm will hit a certain location at a certain time.
The forecast points, linked together, produce the skinny black line you see on storm-tracking maps.

Next, forecasters add the cone of uncertainty by mathematically computing an error range, based on a 10-year average of prediction errors. Because predictions are more likely to be wrong the longer away they are made, this cone widens around the black line as it gets further away in time.
"Don't focus too much on the skinny black line," Kiser warned. Last year, for example, the black line showed Hurricane Charley heading for Tampa, Fla., but the storm took an unexpected turn and made landfall well south of the city, catching residents in the danger zone unaware.

Two relatively recent types of forecasts now supplement the storm track and its cone of uncertainty: the strike probability forecast and an experimental set of wind probability forecasts that is making its debut just this year.

Wild Weather in Art and Fiction
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many of us are wishing that we had some sort of control over the weather.
The earliest science fiction reference I know about for control of the weather is in John Jacob Astor's 1894 novel A Journey in Other Worlds - people use aeriducts to make rain at will; complete control over all weather is also foreseen.

Housing for Katrina Victims: Ideas from Science Fiction
In the wake of hurricane Katrina, and the flooding of New Orleans, hundreds of thousands of survivors have been left homeless
Easily errected temporary quarters should be first on the list.

Robert Heinlein, wrote about knockdown cabins before World War II, gave us the Quonset hut. Government procurers should be scouring military bases for similar items for rapid deployment in the affected states.
In his 1992 novel Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson writes about the U-Stor-It apartment:
More examples and pictures in the Article.

This is a couple of weeks old, but I thought that if we're on the subject, you might find it interesting:
Unmanned Planes Survey New Orleans Damage
Tiny, unmanned surveillance planes are being pressed into action for reconnaissance over Katrina-ravaged New Orleans in what defense contractors call the biggest civilian deployment ever for the technology.

Ten of the unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, have been taking turns this week flying from the New Orleans Naval Air Station and relaying photos of the devastation below to the Air Force.

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Pat Kirby said...

I want one [little plane].

I can fly it around my property, dropping little green army men--with parachutes!--out of it.

I'm surprised the paparazzi don't use 'em to get pictures of the stars.

Melly said...


Oh, but maybe the paparazzi do. Sometimes I wonder how they get some of their pix.

You don't want a u-store-it house? Actually, can't blame ya on that one.