Charles E. Roop giving his own forecasts, weather discussions, photos and adventures for the Starkville, MS area, Florida, and beyond.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Proposed House Budget for NOAA: Disaster

Today's blog post has a little more of a different tone, but it's on a topic that deeply concerns me and should concern all of us. I usually don't like to get very political on social media because of how sensitive people can be these days, but the latest news I've read is making me speak out.

In today's atmosphere (no pun intended), the need to cut budgets due to less revenue has been a hot topic. Not just a local and state level, but also the national level. The last few years, the federal budget has been dipping heavily into the red. In my mind, both political parties are to blame. Regardless, both parties are sensing the frustration of us taxpayers and desire to get spending under control. However, each group has it's own way of doing it - one is to make smaller cuts, the other make drastic cuts.

The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives seems to be taking more of the drastic approach. In their proposed budget, the House would like to cut programs and scale back others to save at least $35 billion according to the Associated Press.

According to material presented by Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, the cuts would stretch across a vast range of domestic programs, from the EPA to housing, the weather service, food safety and inspection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Community Development Block Grant, which provides funding for municipalities, would also be cut.

Yep - they said the National Weather Service. The agency that provides forecasts, life-saving watches and warnings, and provide weather data that is fed into forecast models could suffer massive cuts. The National Weather Service Employees Organization released a press release that spells out disaster for the agency if these cuts go through...

Congress's move will necessitate work furloughs and force rolling closures of Weather Warning Offices across the country. The effects will be felt in every aspect of daily life, including emergency management, television weather, and information used by our nation's citizens for transportation, commerce and agriculture.

The National Hurricane Center, the Storm Prediction Center, the Aviation Weather Center, the Tsunami Warning Centers, River Forecast Centers and local Weather Forecast Offices located in communities across the nation are all victims of Congress's budget cut.


Reduced funding will mean upper air observations currently made twice a day might be reduced to every other day. Buoy and surface weather observations, the backbone of most of the weather and warning systems, may be temporarily or permanently discontinued. Delays in replacement satellites run the risk of losing key weather data that can be obtained no other way. "This information is vital for weather modeling and essential for accurate tornado watches and warnings," said Sobien.

The National Hurricane Center is not immune to these cuts as furloughs and staffing cuts will add strain to the program. The Hurricane Hunter Jet, which provides lifesaving data and helps determine a hurricane's path, could also be eliminated.

This view is pretty scary. It would also impact many of my friends, including me, who desire to work for NOAA once they get their meteorology degree.

I understand that budgets need to be cut in order get the country out of the red, but common sense needs to be applied when deciding what to slash. Then again, common sense has not been applied much in congress in the last few years. Extreme partisan politics has taken priority over the needs of the country.

If the House's proposed budget cuts go through, many lives would be in danger from lack of adequate equipment maintenance, staffing, and lack of constant and accurate weather data. This would lead to lack of accurate forecasts and timely warnings. Simply put: People could die.

There are many other essential programs that the House GOP would like to cut or eliminate which include the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, education (then again, that's typical), the EPA, and food inspection. Even cuts to the Army Corps of Engineers are on the table. Despite the devastation from Hurricane Katrina, some politicians think that cutting funding to the Corps is still a great idea.

I highly encourage you to write to your senators and representatives and tell them to use common sense in cutting budgets. They need to think about what they are doing and find other sensible ways to save money.

1 comment:

  1. Not to change the subject, but both parties are dancing around the only real issue: Social security and Medicare must be fixed. Fix those two programs and the severe cuts to everything else don't matter. The national debt is over 14 trillion. Is anyone in the government (either party) so mathematically incompetent as to see that a few tens of billions of dollars (.3% of the total debt) in cuts amount to nothing? Apparently they all are. The discretionary spending they are talking about cutting comes out of less than a quarter of the actual budget. SS and medicare make up about 2/3 of the budget. Fix those things. Stop being scared of the AARP. Raise the retirement age. That won't fix it all by itself, but it is certainly a step in the right direction -- unlike what they are doing now, which is wasting time while we continue to accrue interest.