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Hurricane Satellite Could Fail Anytime
By JESSICA GRESKO, Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
(06-12) 12:34 PDT MIAMI (AP) --
An aging weather satellite crucial to accurate predictions on the intensity and path of hurricanes could fail at any moment and plans to launch a replacement have been pushed back seven years to 2016.
In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's chief said the failure of the QuikScat satellite could bring more uncertainty to forecasts and widen the areas that are placed under hurricane watches and warnings.
If the satellite faltered, experts estimate that the accuracy of two-day forecasts would suffer by 10 percent and three-day forecasts by 16 percent, which could translate into miles of coastline and the difference between a city being evacuated or not.
A replacement for QuikScat was originally scheduled to launch in 2009. Lautenbacher would not give a date for that flight in the letter, but other officials have said it is scheduled to launch in 2016.