It's no exaggeration that our ability to forecast storms saves lives and dollars every year. But what if we were no longer able to make those forecasts?
Of course, it's not that we would lose the knowledge of how to do so. The problem is that we might lose the data that feeds our models.
The New York Times reports that our weather-monitoring satellites -- which fly from pole to pole, crossing the critical zone around the Equator in the early afternoon -- are dying, and mismanagement and underfunding (generally resulting from Bush-era decisions or congressional Republican budgets) mean that replacement ones are behind schedule. ($182 million dollars for the weather satellites will disappear should sequestration -- automatic cuts looming in 2013 -- come to pass.) The result may be "a year or more" without the data these satellites provide. John H. Cushman Jr. reports: