Blind Eye In The Sky: Weather Satellites Lose Funding

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by Jon Hamilton, NPR, June 17, 2011

Government officials are forecasting a turbulent future for the nation’s weather satellite program. Federal budget cuts are threatening to leave the U.S. without some critical satellites, the officials say, and that could mean less accurate warnings about events like tornadoes and blizzards. In particular, officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are concerned about satellites that orbit over the earth’s poles rather than remaining over a fixed spot along the equator. These satellites are “the backbone” of any forecast beyond a couple of days, says Kathryn Sullivan, assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction, and NOAA’s deputy administrator. It was data from polar satellites that alerted forecasters to the risk of tornadoes in Alabama and Mississippi back in April, Sullivan says. “With the polar satellites currently in place we were able to give those communities five days’ heads up,” she says. …

For full text of the article, visit Blind Eye In The Sky: Weather Satellites Lose Funding : NPR.

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