Budget cuts that eliminated funding for an updated satellite to predict weather patterns come at a time when the U.S. is “increasingly vulnerable” to extreme weather and could cost lives, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warned Wednesday.
Without the necessary $1billion in funding, in five years the U.S will be forced to operate without—for at least a year—a satellite that allows the NOAA to predict storms 5 – 10 days in advance and warn the nation of potential extreme weather events of the coast—such as hurricanes. “Whether the gap is longer than that depends on whether we get the money in the next budget,” Dr. Lubchenco, an environmental scientist, said. “I would argue that these satellites are critically important to saving lives and property and to enabling homeland security.”
The cuts come in a year that has already seen a record number of “billion-dollar disasters”—instances in which droughts, hurricanes, floods, and blizzards have caused more than a billion dollars in damage.