Remember when aerial views of storms consisted of pixellated radar scans on the local TV channel’s weather forecast? Maybe I’m dating myself here, but I’m still goggled by the kinds of images we routinely get on our computers these days. I look for information on Hurricane Sandy and boom, here’s a global-scale, pixel-perfect photo from NASA’s GOES-13 satellite — taken today, at 15:15 UTC (Greenwich Time). In other words, 45 minutes ago. Seriously, how amazing is it that we’re getting close to real-time imagery like this from cameras in orbit?
But wait, you say. The hurricane is up on the curve of the planet and hard to see. No problem, we’ll go to the closeup. Actually, in this image, the east coast of the United States is what’s hard to see. That storm is truly gigantic.
Here’s what really confounds me. We have stunning satellite capabilities now, enabling our weather forecasters to make detailed predictions. We have Google helping out with maps of evacuation zones in areas that are predicted to have storm surge flooding. We have warnings in every format imaginable. We have governors issuing notices of mandatory and recommended evacuation zones. And yet we still see photographs like this one, of Ocean City, New Jersey.
Why are those cars there? This is one of the areas under a mandatory evacuation order. It’s hard to imagine how any residents could be unaware of the danger. Of course, “aware” and “taking it seriously” are two different things. I’m guessing the residents are taking those warnings seriously now.
From orbital view to street view, practically in real time. Technologically, we are living in the future, and it’s exciting. In terms of climate change, we’re also living in the future…and that’s frightening.
(Click on the first image to globalize.)