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Hurricane Watchers Hit Their Mark

Forecasters have learned to stay 48 hours ahead of a major hurricane's twists and turns

3 min read

The bad news about hurricane forecasting is that long-term projections of frequency, intensity, and landfall still have a long way to go. The good news is that near-term forecasting has improved enormously in recent years, saving countless lives and many millions of dollars. Hurricane Katrina, despite the tremendous problems with the evacuation of New Orleans, provided a vivid example of today's more skillful hurricane predicting. "Katrina's 48-hour forecast was right on geographically, and only a couple of hours off in time," says Bob Gall, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). "It was an excellent forecast."

"A most powerful hurricane with unprecedented strength," was the headline on the U.S. National Weather Service's alert issued a day before the hurricane hit the Gulf Coast, almost precisely where it was expected to. "Most of the area [hit] will be uninhabitable for weeks, perhaps longer" [see photograph, " "].

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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