A Nation Vulnerable To The Elements

Alex Knapp worries that we won't be able to see the next Sandy coming:

[I]f it weren’t for NOAA satellites, weather forecasters likely would not have been able to predict that Hurricane Sandy’s "left hook" into the Eastern Seaboard, which enabled local governments to undertake emergency preparations for the storm.

Unfortunately, due to what Undersecretary of Commerce Jane Lubchenco called, "chronic management problems," it appears increasingly likely that the U.S. will have to suffer a at least a year without satellites starting around 2017 as the old satellites reach the end of their life cycle and the new ones are launched. And right now there’s no other alternative for getting that data. The government is scrambling to do what it can to minimize the amount of time between the death of the old satellites and the launch of the new, but right now it looks like there will be at least some small gap.

He later notes that "the Fiscal Cliff would include an 8.2 percent cut to NOAA’s weather satellite program," which means, if we go over the cliff, "the expected one year weather satellite gap could be much, much longer."