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Tropical satellite glitches causing problems

By Ellen Bacca
Published On: Oct 11 2012 05:55:24 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 12 2012 06:09:15 AM CDT

For the first time in almost a month, the tropics are firing up. Tropical Storm Patty is newly formed near the Bahamas, just north of a second batch of storms kicking into gear off the northeastern coast of South America.

With the tropics still proving to be active, weather watchers may be more aware of glitches that have been occurring in satellite coverage near the western coast of Africa. Satellites are one of the primary ways scientists monitor storms in the tropics. For this reason, the malfunctioning satellite is being replaced.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is taking a backup satellite out of storage and moving it into place thousands of miles above South America. This new satellite, called the GOES-14, will be switched with the current malfunctioning satellite named GOES-13.

It will take a total of 33 days for the exchange to take place. The new satellite will move less than a degree a day towards its new position.  NOAA will then move the problematic GOES-13 satellite into storage, where scientists will problem-shoot to fix the current errors.