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SPOKANE -- The Inland Northwest is thousands of miles away from Hurricane Sandy, but local experts are playing a critical role in helping to predict when the storm will hit.

Meteorologists with the National Weather Service launched extra weather balloons from their facility in Airway Heights Saturday.

They are among those at 72 locations nationwide helping to map the systems in the sky.
The balloons send back temperatures and humidity readings, and GPS devisees onboard help measure wind speed and direction.

Meteorologists expect the big system that brought rain and snow through our area Friday will have a major affect on the way Hurricane Sandy hits land.

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