Extreme weather is expected to be an increasing part of our lives, according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In 2011 alone the U.S. suffered 14 extreme weather events—from the tornado that devastated Joplin, Mo., to Hurricane Irene's flooding of the Northeast—that each caused more than $1 billion in damage.

In an attempt to save more lives and livelihoods through improvements in forecasting extreme weather—as well to make preparations to cope with such events—the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is investing in improved radar systems, more advanced computer modeling and better satellite systems. NOAA satellites are observing the planet 24 hours a day, seven days a week to support the weather forecasts and warnings that save lives.

By combining new technology with scientific knowhow, NOAA hopes to help build a "weather-ready nation," a country well prepared to deal with even the worst extremes the weather can bring.