Constantly updating weather radar

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A Tompkins County resident of the 1800s would marvel at the existence of a plausible five-day forecast, never mind radar images on a cell phone that can help indicate whether a thunderstorm will pelt one valley or the next.Our weather forecasting infrastructure, however, is expensive and in many cases getting creaky.While it remains fairly difficult to precisely forecast how much precipitation will land where, or where in a possible storm tornadoes will form, meteorologists and their powerful tools have delivered better and better results over the last century or so. The earliest "weather maps" were built using old observations, but the spread of reliable instruments and telegraph lines made daily station data collection possible by the time of the Civil War.Weather station reports today range from official Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) installations, often at airports and National Weather Service (NWS) offices, to home stations that transmit their findings over the Internet.Weather may seem like a local issue we can't control, but reality is more complicated than that.While we don't control the weather itself, we have drastically reduced its impact on us through forecasting and preparation.While the weather of spring 2012 may have seemed strange, odder and more damaging weather has happened in the past.

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2011 saw damage in Caroline, though Tompkins County dodged many worse issues to the east.

It depends on technologies, notably aviation, rocketry, and helium balloons, that may face resource limits in the future, as well as a short-term set of challenges created by failed satellite launches and tighter budgets.

Tompkins County weather is rarely dull, with substantial variations in temperature and precipitation from week to week and year to year.

The impact of climate change on day-to-day weather isn't clear yet, but added energy in the atmosphere can do more than warm it.

More energy means more power for wind and storms, and it increases the possibility of events like that cold front of 1925.

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