As Hurrican Isaac slapped New Orleans this week, powerful computers were able to give the city detailed data on possible threats.
(New Orleans under water, 2005. Photo via Shutterstock)
According to Wikipedia, computer simulations for weather date back to the 1950s and even then needed the most powerful processors available. Even still, it's more an art than a science because weather, by its nature, can be unpredictable. Still, forecasts are getting increasingly accurate.
This story notes that the data helps emergency planners predict what roads will flood, allowing them to position supplies for recovery.
When Katrina struck computer modelling was available, the story makes clear, but not as detailed as it is today.