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Many of us have grown accustomed to checking out the weather forecast before planning what to wear and what to do the next day. Now researchers at Columbia University and the National Center for Atmospheric Research say they have come up with a way to use weather technology for help forecast the flu.

The system used historical data to match up intense flu outbreaks with weather patterns and found most occurred after extended periods of very dry weather.

There is more to it than that, but the scientists are convinced they will soon be able to use weather trends to warn health departments and residents when their local flu season will peak and how bad it will be.

Jeffrey Duchin, Chief of Communicable Disease Control, Epidemiology & Immunization Section, Public Health - Seattle & King County, praised the study. He said flu forecasts might persuade people to get flu shots in time for them to take affect before the season peaks.

But he said he can already forecast peak flu seasons in King County based on historical patterns. He predicts, with 50 percent certainty, the season will peak here in February.

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