posted on Apr, 15 2005 @ 08:24 PM
Budget cuts in the National Weather Service (NWS)
are threatening the very services many of us depend on.
Possible efforts to reduce costs include trimming office staffs and reducing software improvements. These reductions are seen as threats to the
improvements we have seen with the NWS with regards to severe storm forecasting.
The agency that has served as America's weatherman for more than a century struggles with seeming disinterest in Washington, budgets that don't keep
pace with mandated salary increases and dozens of sophisticated private competitors pushing hard to limit the weather service's role.
But within the weather service, budget problems hold the greatest threat, potentially damaging the agency's ability to perform its most important job
- protecting life and property by providing early, accurate warnings of severe weather, particularly tornadoes.
"According to an internal NWS document obtained by the National Weather Service Employees Organization, `The reductions in the fiscal year 2005 budget
for the National Weather Service will have critical impact on its vital life-saving mission,'" said Richard Hirn, the employee organization's general
counsel and lobbyist.
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This has far-reaching impacts to Americans in many ways. For example, we have increased tornado warning lead times to almost 15 minutes. If we
reduce office staffs there may not be enough people to watch the doppler radar screens. We could improve the software to issue automated warnings but
such improvements are also on the chopping block.
It's more than a little disconcerting that budget shortfalls may cause a reduction in the services we receive from this important branch of the
government. Whether it's a severe thunderstorm warning, lake effect snow warning or severe frost warning, chances are all of us benefit from this
agency in some way.
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