Sunday, February 20, 2011

Protect the National Weather Service

I was reading the WAVE 3 Weather blog late last night. Folks, this House Republican budget is very drastic and according to Brian in the comments, it takes the National Weather Service back to the 1990s. At this point, all I can say is email your senators and congressman. I trust that John Yarmuth will fight the cuts. Now, Ben Chandler, I'm not so sure given his record of late.First, Brian gives readers the mission statement of the NWS:
The National Weather Service (NWS) provides weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts and warnings for the United States, its territories, adjacent waters and ocean areas, for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy. NWS data and products form a national information database and infrastructure which can be used by other governmental agencies, the private sector, the public, and the global community.
Now that you have that, read on:
House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers proposed the Continuing Resolution HR 1this week that threatens funding for the National Weather Service (NWS), a service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association(NOAA), with a budget cut of 30 percent, if passed.[...]

Koch says that the NWS budget cuts, if enacted, would be "felt in every aspect of daily life," from emergency weather forecasting to the cost of shipping goods.

Specific concerns for him include suspended and terminated weather observation activities, such as the potential grounding of the Hurricane Hunter Jet, which helps determine a hurricane's path, to reduced weather balloon launches which may result in less accurate forecasts.
The question and answer in the main article was with the Little Rock office so a lot of the answers are related to Arkansas. Tornadoes are bad so here is this part:
Will there be a delay in receiving tornado warnings (or similar severe warnings) common to Arkansas?

"Under certain circumstances, yes, we are afraid that this could happen. During a tornado emergency, seconds save lives."

"Imagine a situation in which the Little Rock NWS office was on a 27-day shutdown," he begins, speaking to the resulting work furloughs and rolling closures across the country if the NWS budget cuts as proposed are enacted. "In this case, our sister office in Memphis would be covering our area of responsibility."

"If a county Sheriff in central Arkansas were to spot a tornado touchdown, their immediate response would be to call the NWS Office in Little Rock. What would happen?"

What happens if a call goes unanswered or is met with a recording advising the spotter to call, say, Memphis?

"Under those circumstances, that would create a delay of getting the information to our neighboring office."
How much of the budget does the NWS take up?
Reactions: What about the federal deficit?

Scientist Tim Coleman further discuses the proposed $126 million NWS budget cut at ABC 33/40 in light of the U.S. Federal Deficit. Coleman points out that "the National Weather Service "budget of $850 million is 0.03 percent of the budget."

Coleman opines further on the role of the government who -- after entitlement programs, interest on federal debt and national defense -- dedicates 17 percent of the budget to pay for "Interstates, FBI, education, energy, treasury, NOAA, NASA, EPA, Corps of Engineers, National Science Foundation (research)," [sic] and similar programs related to justice, defense and general welfare.

Koch was asked about any counter proposals offered that would reduce spending but minimize risk due to extreme budget cuts:

"I've been told that many different scenarios have been discussed by our senior staff at National Weather Service Headquarters, and these solutions were the ones that had the least impact on public safety. Our budget shortfall is expected to exceed $125 million, and all of the cost cutting measures that have been proposed only total up to $48 million. Where the rest of the cuts will come from is uncertain at this time," he said.

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