Saturday, March 4, 2017

Coming to the USA: third world weather forecasting?

Use the buttons at the bottom to forward this to Congress and your governor.

Trump has told Congress to cut the NOAA satellite budget by 22%.

We all know that severe weather is occurring in places it didn’t happen before. This February there were tornadoes in Maryland, the southeast, and Illinois, very unusual happenings. The 2012 derecho that started in the heartland and took out power to nearly a million people in the DC region was another one. It could be tracked along its entire path due to NOAA satellites.

This affects boaters as well as landlubbers. The fishing industry is going to take a hit when its boats can’t get a solid forecast about whether it’s safe to go out. To say nothing of pleasure boaters.
It affects the military. We have over 400 navy vessels, 170 merchant marine, 200 Coast Guard aircraft and dozens of kinds of Coast Guard water vessels. They cannot navigate safely in home waters without accurate forecasting.

We have fighter planes assigned to hassle possible terrorist planes in no-fly zones. Sending them up without a forecast kills badly needed pilots.

Let’s talk about commercial flying. Everybody knows how much they hate hearing that their flight might be grounded, worse yet getting to the airport and finding out a flight has been canceled for bad weather at either end or at any hub. It’s going to get worse without weather satellites for good forecasting.
Internet sales? What if they can’t get here from there due to bad weather? Fedex regularly posts on its tracking site about known hazards. The unknown hazards are about to bite all the shippers because they may have to retrieve packages rerouted from one airport to another due to bad weather – that they didn’t expect because the satellites couldn’t feed data to the FAA or the radar is broken.

Some companies are hoping to use drones to ship. This is a forlorn hope without NOAA satellites. Drones smaller than airplanes are more vulnerable to bad weather.
And ground shipping? Where there are expressways there are overpasses. Overpasses are vulnerable to high winds. In the DC region radio stations report when overpasses and bridges are closed to empty trucks or big rigs due to wind.

Eastern Shore Maryland, this means you! Stock up now and prepare to become more self-sufficient, because the goods and tourists you are used to, won’t be able to get there. The bridges will be unsafe at any speed without good weather forecasting and the tourists will keep away, fearing to waste their bucks.
Now here’s one issue that didn’t occur to me until somebody brought it up on Twitter. All construction will hurt from this cut. Schedules will stretch because people reporting to the building site will have to just go home when the weather turns out bad.

We can’t fix our highway infrastructure under these conditions. Those of us in metropolitan regions are familiar with traffic reports saying that the work on Highway X is closed today due to the weather.
As schedules creep out, costs mount up. Every budget for construction will blow out.

The roads that already exist will be treacherous more often. Municipalities rely on good weather forecasting to know when to brine their roads and when to gear up the snow plows.
Which will kill people on the roads when it doesn’t simply make it impossible to get to work.

The power companies will not have forecasts that let them pre-position repair trucks. For the safety of their crews, they cannot start restoring power until the bad weather has completely passed. You do not put a guy up in a bucket truck until you are sure no more tornadoes will be spawned or the other side of the hurricane or derecho has passed.

And without power company crews to clear live wires, fire and police will not be able to rescue people from destroyed houses.
But first, you have to be able to call the power company to report the outage or 911 for emergency assistance. If you are still on landlines and the wires are down, you are, as we say in the business, SOL.

This budget cut makes it impossible to maintain weather radar at its current level. It reduces U.S. weather forecasting capabilities to something more like Brazil, a third-world nation despite its hosting of the Olympics -- in polluted water venues (wait, it’s coming now that Pruitt has swung his pen) and with such a high risk of Zika infection that some athletes pulled out.

Contact Congress and  your governor; tell them NOAA satellites have to be fully funded to maintain state and national economies.  Our lives as well as our way of life depend on it.

This post has no copyright info on it so you can send the whole  thing.

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