Here's something the government did pretty well in recent days: Forecasting Dorian.
We can already hear the howls of protest from the crowd that thinks a storm's path ought to be set in stone from the moment it forms.
They're disappointed Dorian didn't get shredded by passing over mountainous Hispaniola on its way toward
Forecasting isn't that simple. It's the opposite of simple.
As reported in the
Another complicating factor was that Dorian got really powerful really fast, and that can alter the way a hurricane behaves. But forecasters don't completely understand what causes "rapid intensification" and how that affects a storm.
Hurricane forecasting is a complex science that depends in large part on how much we choose to spend on people and technology. For example, researchers have developed disposable but costly drones that can fly into hurricanes and provide much better information than the small sensors that are parachuted into storms.
But we choose not to spend very much on weather and climate, considering what's at stake. The entire budget for the
Considering four consecutive years of hyper-destructive Category 5 hurricanes -- costing lives and many billions in damages each time -- spending on research and forecasting should be going up, not down.
Americans also deserve the best possible leadership at
Myers may have a good mind for business but he's no scientist. Plus, his former company has long had a beef with
Myers' nomination has been stuck in neutral for nearly two years now, and with good reason. This country has no business playing around with something as important as weather forecasting.
If private companies want to use federally produced weather data to come up with their own forecasts, more power to them. But the public shouldn't be left to wonder whether forecasts are being tweaked because of a potential profit motive. Gathering the data and issuing weather forecasts should be as much a government function as national defense.
As Dorian showed, government weather predictions aren't perfect. But these past few days have again reminded us that they're vital. We were fairly confident several days ahead of time that Dorian would stay off the coast of
Forecasting reliability is why ? when tropical weather is lurking -- the most important times of day are 11, 2, 5 and 8, when the
People count on these forecasts to protect their families and their property.
Just as we thank first responders for their contributions during challenging times, we also owe the people of
Thanks to them, we have the time to prepare for storms and stay safe.
What would make us even safer is if the president and
(An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the
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