It's a lousy time to be a US weather forecaster. Even as the Atlantic Ocean heats up, wind shear falls, and the potential for an active hurricane season looms, vacancies have been mounting at the National Hurricane Center in Miami and at National Weather Service offices around the country. According to a new US Government Accountability Office report, morale has sunk among forecasters, and increasing vacancies have led to an inability to provide timely severe weather information to state and local emergency managers.
Instead of addressing this problem, the proposed budget released by the Trump administration late last month would exacerbate the tempest. Overall, the President's budget for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration sought $1.06 billion for the National Weather Service, down six percent from 2017. But the devil is in the details, and some of these details are indeed devilish.
Perhaps most questionable is a "request" to limit the ability of forecasters to predict hurricanes and other severe weather with computer modeling. "NOAA requests a reduction of $5,000,000 to slow the transition of advanced modeling research into operations for improved warnings and forecasts," the budget blue book states.
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