A satellite that provides those clever moving cloud pictures for television weather forecasts failed Saturday, depriving customers of views of the western United States, officials said.
The failure occurred aboard GOES-6, a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration satellite that was launched in April 1983, said Milton Mortman, a shift supervisor at the agency's satellite operations control center. "It's just old age," Mortman said.National Weather Service meteorologist Al Brown said partial pictures can be provided from a companion satellite, GOES-7, that covers the Eastern United States.
"We'll be getting pictures from the eastern satellite. Eventually we will move the eastern satellite over so it can cover the entire country," Brown said.
But even when the eastern satellite is moved over, weather watchers still will only receive a portion of the big picture, said Keith Merrill, a meteorologist with KSL-TV in Salt Lake City.
"We won't be able to see into the Pacific Ocean where storm comes in" on their way to Utah, said Merrill. "It's not going to be major. We like to see what's out in the ocean and we won't be able to do that now."
Mortman said the process of moving GOES-7, using small rockets mounted to the satellite, would be completed around Feb. 21. Controllers will move the GOES-7 satellite from its present position at 80 degrees west longitude over northern South America to 108 degrees west longitude. GOES-6 is at 134.5 west longitude, far out over the Pacific Ocean.