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Shutdown Drama Shows Need for Private Weather Service

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22.01.2019

For residents of St. Louis, Missouri and Washington D.C. commuting to work surrounded by mountains of snow, it’s essential that they leave home equipped with an accurate weather forecast. Yet, politics is rearing its ugly head and preventing Americans from getting the information they need to make safe travel choices. During the shutdown, the National Weather Service (NWS) is forcing Americans to undertake DIY forecasting. Even though the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, which oversees the NWS) has claimed that much of “operations are in excepted status and therefore remain in place to provide forecasts and warnings to protect lives and property,” compromised activities are already leaving millions in the lurch.

At least four NWS regional offices—in Tampa Bay, Florida, Springfield, Illinois, Phoenix, Arizona, and the Pacific Northwest — are likely shuttered until the shutdown ends. Meanwhile, weather forecasts nationwide are likely degrading in quality as many of the “non-essential” workers entrusted to verify and fact-check them are not in the office. This chaos sparked by the growing frequency of shutdowns raises a fundamental question of why should the government be in the weather tracking business to begin with? Given the overwhelming demand for on-time, accurate weather forecasting, it makes little sense why modeling and........

© Townhall