Here’s some rather frightening news. The U.S. Weather Service has successfully launched a huge and powerful rocket that it is now placing in orbit a weather-sniffing satellite so sophisticated that it can look down and, with great accuracy, describe what the upcoming weather is going to be right down to the minute everywhere in the world.
For instance, here on eastern Long Island during hurricane season, we are going to be told exactly when a big storm is going to hit and where. This will replace the weather satellite we currently have.
Remember the third week of October? We were all sent to our battle stations because a new hurricane that had come east to west across the Bahamas was going to swing clockwise on its axis as it approached Florida and come barreling up the coast, either just inland so it would peter out somewhere near Virginia, or just offshore slowly gathering strength to become a monster that, heading north, would hit KABLAM right into Westhampton Beach.
In this community, people packed up and fled. Others stayed and battened things down, stocked up on water and batteries to wait to see how things would develop. In the event, we got a little rain squall. North of Florida, the hurricane slammed inland and, as predicted, dwindled down to nothing before it got here.
So let’s be clear how this is going to play out. When this satellite gets fired up, maybe next week, what we will now get is something absolutely positively correct.
The eye of Hurricane Banana, now forming 17 miles off the coast of Sierra Leone, Africa, will hit one mile to the west of Quogue, Long Island on Thursday, September 17, 2017 with winds of 104 miles an hour.
This information will be sent out in a bulletin on September 5, 12 days before. And it will not change. In earlier times, we would worry ourselves sick that it might hit here and then cheer and breathe a sigh of relief when it came up short to hit somewhere else—now we get the whole story tied up with a bow in advance.
You might say, well, this is a blessing, not something horrible. Leaving us on pins and needles for 10 days or so is really upsetting. Better to know for sure to be able to plan.
On another level, we will all know well in advance whether or not the Dan’s Papers Kite Fly should be cancelled or postponed for another date. There will be no more gambles to be taken a few days before because of the possibility of rain, then watching as no rain fell, and we could have held it anyway. What the hell is the matter with us anyway? Now look what’s happened.
Why is this horrible? Because the uncertainties of the weather have created so many interesting ups and downs in our emotional lives that to leave it behind and replace it by weather as predictable as the changing of the traffic light is to lose something very precious.
I really don’t WANT to know what, exactly, is coming. Isn’t it rather wonderful, for example, to be on a boat in a bay as people on the stern take their marriage vows and then, amazingly, there is a rainbow in the sky just after their wedding kiss? Isn’t it great, sitting in a stadium in the bottom half of the ninth, with two on and one out and the slugger comes up to possibly win the game when suddenly there’s this huge downpour putting an end to everything?
This is the stuff of life. Knowing exactly that this rainbow and that downpour will happen is horrible. There will be no more poetry to life.
What we will have to replace it are the exact details of our further sink into climate change, higher tides and bizarre weather patterns. Just have a seat along the sidelines. And no clapping until the show is over.