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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Get Newer Eye in the Sky
By Palm Beach Post Editorial

Floridians who followed Hurricane Dean closely last week would have noticed references to QuikSCAT. Judging by the advisories and comments, the satellite is fairly important in tracking storms.

This would be the same Quik- SCAT that former National Hurricane Center Director Bill Proenza called out the government for not replacing. According to the National Weather Service, QuikSCAT "provides measurements of ocean surface winds in all weather and cloud conditions" and can map "90 percent of Earth's oceans every day." QuikSCAT is five years past its life span, and no replacement is scheduled until 2016.

But after Mr. Proenza made his public stink in June, administrators at the agency that oversees the Hurricane Center dismissed the importance of QuikSCAT. In July, they fired Mr. Proenza, blaming him for morale problems. But if the satellite isn't that important, why all the references to it when a hurricane is out there? More important, why aren't all those people who dumped on Bill Proenza telling Congress to speed up a replacement?

Everyone in Florida and Louisiana is depressingly familiar with the politics that have infected the Federal Emergency Mismanagement Agency. But the National Hurricane Center has seemed more about competence than politics. Is that track changing? For good?

Palm Beach Post Editorial
Copyright 2007 The Palm Beach Post