The storm roared in at 1:02 in the morning. Rain, hail, wind, lightning. Enough to wake a person from a deep sleep. In the end, we received nearly an inch of rain, but no real damage. That is significant because we live in the middle of a forest and such storms often leave with trees on the ground, and quite possibly no electricity in our house.
But what is significant about this particular storm and its arrival at 1:02 in the morning is that Mark Scirto, meteorologist from KLTV, had predicted that the storm would reach our area about 1:00 a.m.. And, he had made that forecast 31 hours before the storm actually hit. Impressive. I ignored the two minute discrepancy.
As I thought about this the next day, I remembered a student I had many decades ago when I was teaching a computer science course at the University of Oklahoma. He was an Army officer sent back to school for additional training. Each student in my class had to undertake a major project. His interest in weather forecasting led to his project: produce maps of isobars. This would be a map with lines connecting points having the same atmospheric pressure.
That far back in computer history, instructing the computer to draw a map was difficult. There were no packages to facilitate such a task. The student had to write the code to position and guide the plotter.
The army officer worked hard and produced a commendable project. But he could only get data that was many days old, much of it a week old. To gather data from more than one weather station was not straight forward.
Today, we have an app on our smart phone and can get such a map accurate within the last five minutes. Of course, we can get many other types of weather information, showing the conditions over the last hour or five minutes ago. And we are not limited to our local area. If we want to know about the weather where one of our children is living, be it Pennsylvania, or Kansas, or California, we can get it. Quickly. As fast as we can type.
Of course, we are very interested in the weather this time of the year when thunderstorms and tornados are born, raised, and wandering around. But as an author, it reminded me of the rapid change in the publishing industry. Amazon, Print on Demand, and digital book readers have changed the atmosphere for authors and readers.
Amazon was created on July 5, 1994. It’s difficult to know exactly when POD first became commercially available, but not very far back.
Living in the woods of east Texas, I find it important to keep track of the weather. Ignoring it could be disastrous. Disregarding the rapid changes in the publishing industry could be dangerous to an author.
James R. Callan
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