Weather (Scientific American Presents 03) by Scientific American

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Perhaps someday computers will be so fast and cheap that all firms will be able to run their own forecast models. But private firms will only outstrip the NWS if the weather service stands still—and many have no wish to unbalance the status quo. , meteorological firm that chooses not to make its own forecasts: “We’ll always be a step behind them. ” In this sense, both the forecasting business and the NWS are likely to occupy complementary niches: predicting windsurfing conditions in the Columbia River Gorge may remain the bailiwick of private specialists.

3 6. MOST VARIABLE TEMPERATURE ON EARTH Verkhoyansk, Russia Temperatures have ranged from –90˚ to 94˚ F, although Verkhoyansk is usually extremely cold. 4 ROBERT DOWLING Corbis OTHER ROBERT PICKETT Corbis 1 2 7. 3˚ F. 1. HIGHEST WATERSPOUT 3. MOST HUMID PLACE ON EARTH Eden, New South Wales, Australia Estimated to be 5,014 feet high, it was spotted on May 16, 1898. Aseb, Eritrea Average afternoon dew point is over 84˚ F. 2. S. 4. STRONGEST WINDS OUTSIDE OF A TORNADO Cape Disappointment, Wash. An average of 2,552 hours (106 days) each year are heavily foggy.

Many emergency managers, the people who oversee such operations, consider it a qualified success—insofar as early warnings sounded, residents complied, and large numbers of imperiled people moved from Fleeing Floyd Copyright 2000 Scientific American, Inc. HURRY UP AND WAIT: Even the opening of all lanes of Interstate 16 in Georgia to evacuees failed to free up traffic on Tuesday, September 14, 1999 (above). Meanwhile Floyd, shown on NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER/AP PHOTO Monday evening (left), hovered menacingly off the coast.

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