To steer clear of hurricanes, mariners need good weather information. A century ago, weather updates at sea were limited to Morse code messages, but since the 1980s, weather updates have come to printers or fax machines right on the ship's bridge. U.S. cargo ships are required to carry a Navigational Telex (NAVTEX) machine, a radio receiver that picks up medium-frequency radio signals and converts them into a text printout. Another system called Weatherfax uses higher frequency radio waves to send black-and-white images to shipboard fax machines.
Today, captains can also receive weather maps, satellite images, and other information by email. Some vessels have more high-tech tools aboard, like onboard computer systems that help plan routes based on weather forecasts. "Anything you can get on a computer at home, you can probably get at sea through a satellite connection," Pickhardt says.
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