Wallpaper Monday

Hurricane Sandy

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.

Sandy closeup

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.

Ocean City flooding

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.)

About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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7 Responses to Wallpaper Monday

  1. xenatuba says:

    And to think that we are in danger of losing those satellites, as many have outlived their life span, and replacements aren’t scheduled until 2014. Short sighted and sad…

    • oregon expat says:

      Agreed — shockingly shortsighted. Then again, those satellites are essentially infrastructure, and the US has not exactly been good about maintaining its infrastructure.

  2. JR says:

    My guess: two- (or three-) car families who left together in one vehicle and hoped for the best for the car left behind. You don’t want to get separated during an evacuation. It’s better this way in terms of turnpike congestion, too. If that was the high water mark (probably not), those three white rigs on the right would orobably be fine. We may end up in a shelter yet. If so, I’ll probably start out in the car, but I’ve got a route marked out in mind for walking/running/wading as well.

    • oregon expat says:

      Interesting thought. Back when I was part of a 2-car family, our cars were the second most valuable things we owned after the house. No way would we have left either one behind. We’d have set secondary and tertiary meeting points in case we couldn’t both get to the primary evacuation spot.

      Fingers crossed that you stay out of a shelter, JR.

      • JR says:

        I suspect we’ll be losing power any minute now. But re: Ocean City–the mandatory evacuation order went out in the middle of the night, at 12:00 am Sunday. Residents had to be out by 4:00 pm. That’s not much time and I really wouldn’t want to be trying to save a second car at that point. And I’d like to thank them for leaving it behind–driving in NJ is insane at the best of times. No need to add another vehicle to the mess during the evacuation.

        But I hope their auto insurance covers hurricanes.

  3. Emily says:

    The wind map you showed us before on this site look rather awesome now as well.

    • oregon expat says:

      Thank you for pointing that out. I had tried to take a look at it yesterday, but it wasn’t loading — I’m guessing a whole lot of sudden interest crashed their server.

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