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--> PART I WHERE ARE WE GOING?
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--> PROLOGUE A BOSTON CHRISTMAS CAROL 2025 The mayor of Boston, the director of emergency management, the chiefs of the police and fire departments, and three chief executive officers of major insurance companies arrive at Boston's central weather planetarium on December 19, 2025. The inside is dark except for faint lights blinking on the domed ceiling. The delegation, called together by the mayor, assembles around a meteorologist seated at a small console in the middle of the room. One window of the console contains options for space and time. The meteorologist enters "Boston" for the Location option and "December 24, 2025," for the Date/Time option. The display prompts the meteorologist for a more precise specification of the location and time. From the page-long list of locations in the prompt box, he selects the corner of Tremont and Main streets, an elevation of 800 ft. above the surface, and a time of 0600 EST. When he selects the View Weather option, the inside of the dome becomes faintly illuminated with a wintry scene. Through the swirling fog and snow, a few lights are occasionally visible. A text window in each quadrant of the dome reports heavy snow and fog, visibility of less than an eighth of a mile, temperature of 30°F, sea-level pressure of 997.7 mb and falling slowly, and winds from 030° at 25 mph with gusts up to 40 mph. The message also reports 4 to 8 inches of snow on the ground within a 5-mile radius of the site, with a mean depth of 5 inches. The mayor asks the meteorologist to move forward in time. He presses the Slow Forward key, and the minute hand on the control panel clock spins forward. At 12 noon he releases the key. The view from central Boston has improved considerably. Breaks in the overcast are visible as the low clouds sweep across the sky from the north. The scene below is one of beauty as fresh snow blankets the city. Last minute Christmas shoppers drive slowly through the plowed streets. The text windows report broken stratocumulus clouds at 6,500 feet with scattered altocumulus clouds above, visibility 10 miles, winds 350° at 20 mph with gusts of 35 mph, temperature of 29°F, and sea-level pressure of 1002.5 mb and rising rapidly. Between 5 and 10 inches of snow are on the ground with an average of 8 inches. The Impacts window reports 3.5 on the EWIS (economic weather impacts scale) and 2.3 on the HWIS (human weather impacts scale). Seeing that the storm is ending and the impacts are not severe, the mayor asks for the reliability of the "Most likely" forecast scenario she has just witnessed. A probability of 25 percent is returned. The mayor asks, "What is the worst possible case for this period of time?" The meteorologist selects an option in a display window; after a few seconds, another view appears on the dome. Now, only a fuzzy, diffuse white glow is visible. The blinking red text window reports extremely heavy snow and dense fog, visibility zero, winds 045° at 45 mph with gusts of 60 mph, temperature 27°F, and pressure 979.0 mb and falling rapidly. Between 5 and 28 Economic Weather Impacts Scale (EWIS) EWIS = log (cost of event in $/100) Cost of event EWIS $1,000 1 $10,000 2 $100,000 3 $1 million 4 $10 million 5 $100 million 6 $1 billion 7 $10 billion 8 $100 billion 9 $1 trillion 10
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--> Human Weather Impacts Scale (HWIS) HWIS = effect on human health and well being Nuisance. Noticed/commented on/complained about by only a few people. Adverse effects on sensitive, careless, or unlucky people; fewer than 100 people per million (0.01 percent of the population) affected. Usually not mentioned in even the local news. Quickly forgotten. Examples: minor air pollution event; light rain; light fog. Occurs on about one-third of days. EWIS range 1-2. Inconvenient. Noticed/remarked upon/complained about by many people. Adverse effect lasts a day or so for many people (greater than 1 percent). Major adverse impact on a few people. Mentioned in local newspaper and television stations but usually not in the national news media. Example: light snowfall slowing traffic, causing delays of up to several hours, many fender-benders, and a few serious accidents. Occurs about 30 days a year. EWIS range 2-4. Major. Noticed and complained about by everyone. Some people frightened. Major adverse economic or health effect on most people lasting for several days or weeks. Life-threatening for a significant fraction (greater than 1 percent) of the population. Hundreds of serious injuries and/or health problems. Ten or more fatalities. Significant news story in the national media. Occurs once or twice a year, on average. Example: January 1996 East Coast "Storm of the Century." EWIS range 5-6. Severe. Many people frightened. Thousands of serious injuries or health problems; up to 100 fatalities. Effects last a week or more. Makes headlines in the national media and a few international papers and news reports. Often an official disaster (declared by the president). Occurs a few times a decade in the United States. Remembered for the lifetime of those who experience the event. Example: January 1998 ice storm in northeastern United States and southeastern Canada. EWIS range 6-7. Catastrophic Entire population affected in significant adverse ways. Most people frightened, many terrorized. Life threatening for more than 10 percent of the population. Featured in most international newspapers and news reports. Triggers major international relief efforts. Impacts may extend for a year or more. Hundreds or thousands of serious injuries or health problems and more than 100 fatalities. Occurs about once every decade. Examples: Hurricane Andrew, East Pakistan cyclone of November 12, 1970 (200,000-500,000 fatalities). EWIS range greater than 7. inches of snow are on the ground with an average depth of 24 inches. Seventeen lightning strikes have occurred within 5 miles of the chosen location in the past 3 hours. The mayor asks for the option to Delete Fog from the 360-degree field of view. As the fog disappears, millions of snowflakes become visible streaking nearly horizontally through the sky. A faint outline of a familiar skyscraper is visible about a quarter of a mile away. Selecting the "Remove Snow Precipitation option opens the view to the devastation below. Nothing is moving. Vehicles are stranded everywhere. The roofs of several buildings have been crushed by the weight of the snow. Fallen trees and power lines litter the landscape. In spite of the midday gloom, no lights are visible in any of the office buildings or department stores. Only dim emergency lights at the hospital break the gloom. Selecting the Impacts window opens a long list of the probable damages from a storm of this magnitude: all airports within 500 miles closed, no roads passable, extreme danger to life and property, 400 fatalities, and $100 million in property damage and other economic losses. After weighing each item on the long list, the rating on the EWIS scale is 7.2 and on the HWIS scale is 4.6, or "Catastrophic." The probability of the worst case is given as 18 percent, one of the highest probabilities ever forecast for a 5-day, worst-case scenario in the "Catastrophic" category of the HWIS. Based on this information, the mayor and her team begin immediate preparations and response measures.
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