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Critical Weather Satellites To Lose Funding

Critical Weather Satellites To Lose Funding

The nation’s weather satellite program is threatened by federal budget cuts which could rob the U.S. of critical satellites. This would mean less accurate advance warnings about blizzards and tornadoes that seem to be  becoming more frequent and deadly.

Backbone of Forecasting

According to officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the potential loss of satellites that orbit the poles will make predicting weather trends in advance of more than a couple of days impossible. For instance, satellite information that allowed forecasters to alert Alabama and Mississippi about the tornado threat back in April came five days earlier than would have been possible without the satellite information.

Critical Loss

One important polar satellite will reach the end of its expected life span in 2016, resulting in a critical coverage gap. To explore the possible consequences, NOAA used storm data from last winter’s “Snowmageddon” to see if they could predict a storm of similar magnitude in several years. They were shocked to discover that their ability to accurately predict snowfall amounts on the Eastern Seaboard was compromised to the factor of 2.

What that would mean for a city like Washington D.C. is that snowfall amounts would be double what forecasters predicted. A snowfall prediction of 15 inches would really mean 30 inches of snow.

Weather Happens

Though funding is an issue, there also have been program delays and issues with producing necessary technology for the new satellites, but the real issue is that Americans and businesses rely on long range forecasts more than ever. With the vast geography, mountain ranges and oceans on three sides, the U.S. has the most varied weather in the world.  

What Do You Think?

It seems that infrastructure ranks last by every measure in Congress these days but in an age of climate change, should our weather satellite system be a victim of budget cutting?

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GOES 13 Satellite by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

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118 comments

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9:39AM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

Americans believe that weather satellites are critical infrastructure. The legislature seems to acting against our interests. Maybe if big corporations paid toward the national infrastructure instead of avoiding taxes (which law allows) the satellites would be affordable.

8:06AM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

Wow! That is ridiculous.

4:52AM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

The satellites are important. They should continue getting funding.

9:32PM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

They cut funding for a very important program like this, that is essential and necessary for everyone. Oh, but pay out thousands of dollars for stupid programs that mean nothing, just like the government..don't know up from down ridiculous!

9:02AM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

Without weather satellites, preparation is impossible, and lives are lost.

8:58AM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

SCARY THAT THIS IS EVEN BEING CONSIDERED..

4:02AM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

thanks

2:04AM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

Just how short sighted are our political leaders? We need leaders who do good for the masses and are not just whores for corporate interests.

7:10PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

Priorities?!

4:31PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

Yeah, we're letting this country fall apart while The War Machine uses up our hard-earned tax dollars, either by the troops we send or by the cash we bribe with. Meanwhile, America is crumbling around our ears and no one on The Hill cares.

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