Monday, February 11, 2013

National Weather Service's Greatest Deficiency Is...

... computing power? You're kidding me, right? According to Cliff Mass (via Prof. Matt Strassler), the answer is NO, I'm not kidding you: the funding, distribution and actual use of available current computing technology to weather-related real-world problems combine to make America's weather service foremost second considerably less than the most desirable in the world.

Think this is not a political issue? Guess again, or read Mass's post. Here's one of his conclusions:
For the price of a single warplane we could have greatly improved weather prediction that would save lives and property.
Hurricane Sandy
And that's not the half of it... and yes, much of it is controversial. If you're curious about weather, or were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, or are reading this after your power returned after the current superstorm in the Northeast, you'll want to read Mass's post. I'm not enough of a weather geek to offer analysis or assessment, but clearly the problem is real, and it is upon us right now.
UPDATE: sure enough, as Mass points out, the US GFS model blew it again, on the Northeast superstorm, predicting only "a minor trough with little weather." Clearly this will not do. Be sure to scroll down to the chart, "Most Powerful Weather Forecast Computer by Country" ... the US ranks seventh.


  1. The Republicans are 'post office-ing' the National Weather Service to privatize it. They refused to fund replacement satellites, or to fund the computer systems and radar upgrades necessary to increase the accuracy of the system. They have forced closure of NWS offices all along the Gulf Coast and other areas of the country.

    They also refused to provide the funds to upgrade our decrepit air traffic control system, or any other major technology upgrade to Federal infrastructure.

    Cut taxes and privatize are the only tools the Republicans have in their 'philosophy'.

    1. Bryan, the R's have no "philosophy" of governance. They don't even have anything like the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition; at least the Ferengi are in the open about being "good businessmen" (i.e., swindlers). If the Republicans continue to sell themselves as "conservative," they have a hard row to hoe.

      When Republican-owned businesses begin being hit by unpredicted tropical weather, or when businessmen and -women begin dying regularly in plane crashes, maybe there will be some pressure to improve things. But with the crazy nut-jobs they have in the House (not that the Senate is much better), I am not even confident that real-world pressure will faze them.



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