Broken weather satellite could make forecasts challenging

WASHINGTON – Many people already complain about poor predictions from the weatherman, but forecasting may soon take a sharp turn for the worse.

The U.S. relies on two satellites orbiting the poles for its weather forecasts, but the one that focuses on eastern North America and the western Atlantic has stopped working. NOAA broadened the band on the other one to pick up the slack, but with a bigger range, the accuracy of its data is likely to take a hit.

The next weather satellite launch is set for 2015. The Washington Post reports hiring is frozen at the National Weather Service, in part because of sequestration, at the beginning of what is supposed to be a very lively hurricane season.

It could take anywhere from months to years before NOAA gets everything back to normal. The GAO report calls it one of the top 30 challenges facing the federal government and the outage could make events like the recent Oklahoma tornado harder to predict.

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