NOAA’s NWS – Upcoming threats to how people receive their weather part 1

Okay, so we get things about how we shouldn’t lobby as a weather service employee. I can’t go out during an outreach event, like say a spotter talk, and then go tell people to go tell their congressman or senator that we need a certain piece of equipment at this place to help us do our job. However, as a private citizen I can go out on my own and tell people about certain peices of legislation and how they are bad for them.

One such threat is coming from outside the weather service, in the form of legislation to get the NWS out of releasing its forecasts to the public. The Commercial Weather Services would like you to pay them to see all of the forecasts that flow out of the government that are designed to help you make decisions on protecting your life and property. A few years ago I heard the statistic that it took $2 a person per year( in the US) to run the NWS. From that you get forecasts and warning services, that have steadily improved in quality, as well as, vehicles to get the information out. So they are asking you to pay for it a second time or at the least look at it with ads popping up in your face.

I try not to be paranoid, and use terms like “slippery slope,” but if the commericial weather services get their way, I could see a day, when the warnings don’t go out unless you have subscribed. But that’s just me being extreme.

NOAA’s NWS – Upcoming threats to how people receive their weather part 1

  1. Tom says:

    Jeff:
    Youv’ve been busy this morning…two posts. Good stuff. Just wanted to say that PA Senator, and former Penn Stater, Rick Santorum is behind the legislation and supposition is that he is speaking for your old organization. But not Joel…get this…the employees who contributed $5500 to Senator Santorum’s campaign. NAAAA…I think Joel is twisting his tail or crossing his palms. They would stop short of issuing warnings…but want people to pay for forecasts…but as you say, it is a slippery slope.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I think you are misreading the intent of the bill. The purpose of the bill is to get the NWS to release 100% of its information in real time to all. The second purpose of the bill is to focus the NWS on its core mission of collecting quality data, storm warnings, forecasts for the public-at-large and essential aviation forecasts.

    This bill is very much in the public interest.

  3. Jeff Lutz says:

    If I am misreading the intent, to what you say, then the legislation is unnecessary. The things that you describe for the purpose is at least in the offices that I have worked are standard operating procedure. If there are offices operating outside the norm, then the National headquarters needs to be alerted to these and offices that are showing preferential treatment, so they can make the changes internally.

    My problem with the legislation is that the commericial weather services worked on the NWS to get rid of the ag weather program. They quickly found that it was unviable and few took up the slack. I worry about the recreational boater or fisher, who doesn’t get a forecast, because they need to purchase it and die due to a lack of information. I worry about the local radio stations that serve a community and work on a shoestring budget that can’t afford to provide the weather, even a forecast, to help the public that they serve prepare for the possibility of threatening weather.

    As I read the legislation, while the NWS will continue the warnings, the forecasts and at least part of the way that it is distributed (the internet) will begin to be stopped and those that want the forecast will have to pay for it. Unfortunately, that usually means some of the general public will go out unprepared.

    I got into meteorology because I recognized and respect the power of nature that God created. Usually that means that the uneducated or the undereducated bear the brunt of that power if caught unprepared. I believe that it is job of all of us (especially those that have the resources) to help those who don’t know what could happen, to know that there could be danger. I’m not a big government person, but there are some responsibilities that government needs to do so that the underprivileged can be equally protected. To erode what the NWS does which I believe this legislation does, will cause the cost of the preparedness to go out of sight for those who barely have the resources to keep food on the table.

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