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Trimmed Budgets: A Forecast of Poorer Weather Predictions

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By Kate Spinner

For most people, sophisticated weather forecasts are a click away on cell phones and other devices.

But the technology behind those predictions is crumbling under the weight of budget problems, and some scientists worry that within three years, forecasts will be less accurate.

One key weather satellite died three years ago and is not being replaced. Two others are behind schedule and may not be ready before the satellites they need to replace stop working. Budget cuts in some states have eliminated weather buoys at sea and threaten to shutter ground observation networks.

The result: Forecasts could become nearly 30 percent less accurate, said Len Pietrafesa, a retired dean of the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences at North Carolina State University. ...