Pat Shingleton for Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013 Pat Shingleton for Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013 Advocate story Jan. 10, 2013 Comments The Providence Journal reports weather-focused disease modeling could greatly improve long-term disease predictions. In the 1990s, researchers at Johns Hopkins University and the University of New Mexico predicted outbreaks of hanta virus by analyzing rain and snow data. Researchers determined the virus was spreading from infected rodent droppings. Their research matched precipitation patterns with plants that attracted rodents. In east Africa, weather satellites predicted rainfall by measuring sea surface temperatures and cloud density. This data generated risk maps for Rift Valley fever, a virus that spreads from animals to people, causing blindness and death. Other scientists examined satellite temperature anomalies to predict an outbreak of cholera would occur in four months. The early onset of the current flu season found no weather-related predictions. Fastcast: Rain, flooding.