After howling for hours, the wind about my little space of California’s north coast are way-more gentle this early Monday — supposedly we’re on the tail-end of the latest winter-rainstorms, and the moisture is expected to taper off this afternoon and evening.
Sunshine maybe tomorrow — hopefully, later today.
As weather dominates US news coast-to-coast, it’s fitting today is the 145th birthday of our National Weather Service: On February 9, 1870, Congress passed the resolution that was then signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant… that resolution required the Secretary of War to ” provide for taking meteorological observations at the military stations in the interior of the continent, and at other points in the States and Territories…and for giving notice on the northern lakes and on the seacoast, by magnetic telegraph and marine signals, of the approach and force of storms.”
(h/t Cheers and Jeers)
(Illustration: Salvador Dali’s ‘Giants,’ an edification of Dante’s Divine Comedy, found here).
And in the wake of that miscalculation of a couple of weeks ago — predicting a “potentially historic blizzard” striking New York City, when instead the storm bypassed the Big Apple, historically clobbering Boston and the New England states, and is still doing so — the NWS is still trying to get a handle on something nearly impossible, figuring out the weather. Even with all the modern techno-shit, satellite feeds and the like, weather is still weather.
In the beginning, the forecasts of the Weather Bureau were vague, reflecting the state of meteorological science and of the communications network that linked the observation posts.
In 1893, for example, a warning was issued of a storm that would hit the East Coast south of New York.
When the storm did hit near Savannah, Georgia, more than 2,000 people were killed.
Knowledge improved, and by 1915, the Weather Bureau was able to warn the city of New Orleans of a coming storm.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune wrote: “Never before, perhaps in the history of the Weather Bureau, have such general warnings been disseminated as were sent out by the local bureau.”
Ninety years later, however, despite on-target warnings and storm-tracking from the NWS, apparently no one seemed to want to pay attention as Katrina nailed New Orleans.
Of course, George Jr. was in charge:
For example, Bush told ABC on Sep. 1 that “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.”
In its storm warnings, the hurricane center never used the word “breached.”
But a day before Katrina came ashore Aug. 29, the agency warned in capital letters: “SOME LEVEES IN THE GREATER NEW ORLEANS AREA COULD BE OVERTOPPED.”
The National Weather Service office in Slidell, La., which covers the New Orleans area, put out its own warnings that day, saying, “MOST OF THE AREA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKS … PERHAPS LONGER” and predicting “HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS.”
Such are idiots, who worsen shit, like the near-insurmountable problem of climate change — weather or not you’re ready.