Weathering The Budgetary Axe At The Weather Service

Following is courtesy of phillyweather.net

Details are starting to come out about the slashing of the United States FY 2011 budget…or what’s left of fiscal year 2011 since the budget is over six months late…and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is taking a bit of a cut.  $142 million is one number…although some sites are kicking out closer to 20% in budget reductions from a $5.6 billion budget wish list.  In terms of impact, the sharpening axe does little to impact day-to-day operational forecasting at the National Weather Service (for this year, at least) other than potential hiring freezes in some locations.  It does not eliminate any of the services at the NWS level, however.   The NWS is considered essential and forecasting would likely be among the last to see any direct impacts other than staffing-related changes, structural reorganization, and the like.   Those minor changes can have impact in some locations, especially if forecast offices are eliminated down the line.   Doubtful that elimination happens in Philadelphia but in places that are more sparsely populated some changes could be made.

The bigger picture is different.   A couple of the bigger punches dealt to NOAA (the NWS parent) include the elimination of a climate service office, which would have served as a one stop division for all things climate related.    Another is the delay of a polar orbiting weather satellite that would have been used to help in winter storm forecasting over the US as well as improving observational weather over Alaska as there is not a weather satellite currently orbiting over the North Pole.

While this budgetary axe wielded some hits to the NOAA budget, it is merely one hit in what could be a parade of fiscal hits to come.   Work will begin in the coming weeks on passing the FY 2012 budget, which is supposed to be enacted by the end of September (good luck with that), and more fiscal belt-tightening is likely to be proposed…and probably enacted.

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