Hurricane Satellites a Must

Well, as storms go, Hurricane "Alex" was pretty benign. It hardly caused much notice by locals, and prompted only curiosity from visitors who have been involved with tropical storms only on T-V and an occasional movie. But, even on the Outer Banks, which the storm brushed, beach erosion is minimal, and, so far, no casualties have been attributed to it.  You might say we lucked out. That was due mostly to the storm's birthplace. It didn't have the luxury of crossing the entire Atlantic Ocean while building up steam before nearing our coast.

Another comforting thought is that we are now able to keep such close tabs on storms by satellite, especially the familiar "GOES," or Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite—a big name for a hunk of orbiting machinery that does a big job. The Administration is talking about reducing, or perhaps eliminating, funding to replace the aging GOES system, even while proposing to send humans back to the Moon, and beyond that, Mars at enormous cost.

People in Kansas might not think the GOES system of eyes-in-the-sky is such a big deal. After all, they get much of their weather from Canada , and it's predictable. But here along the Southeast Coast , this time of year our weather tends from another direction—the steamy tropics, with their storm engines. And now, with people moving to the shoreline in ever-bigger droves, hurricane detection, tracking, and prediction is no man-in-the-moon situation. It's vital.