Failing satellite may lead to inaccurate weather forecasts - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Failing satellite may lead to inaccurate weather forecasts

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TOLEDO, Ohio -

An eye in the sky could go blind in the coming years. Some of the polar orbiting weather satellites will reach their end of expected life in 2016. The satellites won't be replaced until at least 2017, due in part to federal budget cuts at the National Weather Service.

Satellites provide data that feed into weather computer models. Those models provide Meteorologists with the tools to forecast more than a couple days into the future. A recent study took the same computer models that accurately forecasted Superstorm Sandy and ran the model without satellite data. The result was a forecast that had the storm moving away from the east coast.

Another study done looked at blizzards. Researchers found that only one half of the snowfall that fell in the storm named "snowmageddon" in February of 2010 was forecasted in the computer models without satellite data input. Now there is still a chance that the current satellites will last longer than expected. If that doesn't happen, there could be a year or more where long range weather forecasts become noticeably less accurate in a few years.

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