Friday, March 23, 2012

We're Number 4! We're Number 4!

In the quality of computer models used for weather forecasting says Dr. Cliff Mass of the University of Washington.

I generally agree with Cliff's analysis but want to put a couple of items into perspective. 

  • It is generally agreed the U.S. has the worst weather on earth. So, we have to spend more on radars, meteorologists to man the radars, etc., than other nations.

  • Canada spends less on launching weather balloons than other nations. The computer models cannot make forecasts that are more spatially accurate than the scale on which we measure the weather. 

  • The Obama Administration has proposed cutting out the wind profiler network altogether which is used to provide the data for the models. Again, you get more accurate forecasts than the scale on which we observe the atmosphere.

I am a big fan of the National Weather Service's and their mission of serving the public. There are many, many dedicated people in the NWS. But, I'm concerned about the direction of the NWS these days for a number of reasons. 


  1. I did not know that the administration was suggesting to remove this remote sensing network. With a fraction of what they paid for Solyndra this network could have been supported and expanded. This sounds like either a brainless bureaucratic activity, or lack of a lobby to support it. Will Washington ever learn that you cannot legislate the laws of physics? Probably not.

  2. Here is one of many news stories on the elimination of the profiler network: "Dan Sobien, President of the National Weather Service Employees Organization, says, “I believe cutting this position and the wind profiler network that's across the Midwest will lead to a lessening of lead time for tornado warnings and it will put people’s lives at risk in the Memphis area.”"

    I have seen the original documents and have confirmed that it will be completely eliminated if the cuts go through.

  3. The Obama administration is not doing this - NWS/NOAA is deciding this. To think that the President is calling for closing the WPN is a bit of a stretch ;) It's a bad idea either way, just don't think this is an Obama declaration...

  4. Rob,
    The first version I saw part of a White House communication. Agree the President likely didn't have a hand in the original decision, but he has adopted it for HIS budget. The buck stops with him.
    But, don't worry, I'm going to say something nice about President Obama in a posting on science education later this afternoon.


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