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National Weather Service forecasts to be banned?

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 12:58 PM GMT on April 26, 2005

It may soon be illegal for the National Weather Service (NWS) to issue non-severe weather forecasts under the provisions of the National Weather Service Duties Act of 2005, Senate Bill S.786, introduced April 14 by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa. The bill's key provision (Section 2b) states that the National Weather Service cannot provide "a product or service...that is or could be provided by the private sector", with the exception of severe weather forecasts and warnings needed to protect life and property. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez is given sole authority on how to interpret what NWS products and services should be restricted. In his comments upon introduction of the bill, Senator Santorum said the bill would boost the private weather industry by reducing unfair competition from the NWS and generate cost savings to the government, remarking, "The beauty of a highly competent private sector is that services that are not inherently involved in public safety and security can be carried out with little or no expenditure of taxpayer dollars."

Why The Weather Underground opposes the National Weather Service Duties Act of 2005
It is unclear from the bill's language whether the NWS would be allowed to continue making its routine public and marine forecasts. This decision would be made by the Secretary of Commerce. I believe the expertise of the NWS forecasters is unmatched anywhere in the world, and throwing away their forecasts would be a shameful waste. Although the private weather industry can and does provide routine public and marine forecasts, the quality of these forecasts is sometimes poor and would likely worsen if the NWS ceased issuing forecasts. When I participated in forecasting contests both as a student and an instructor, I discovered that while it was difficult--but not impossible--to beat the NWS forecast, it was nearly impossible to beat the "consensus" forecast--that is, the average of everyone's forecast. Private weather industry forecasters do their own forecasting, but will usually check their forecast against what the NWS says before sending it out. If the NWS forecast differs considerably, there will frequently be an adjustment made towards the NWS forecast, resulting in a better "consensus" forecast. So, with the proposed legislation, not only would we lose the best forecasts available, but the forecasts from the private weather companies would also worsen. Many sectors of our economy depend upon good forecasts, and passage of the bill might result in a loss of millions of dollars to the economy. Elimination of routine NWS forecasts would result in little cost savings to the government. The 24-hour staffing at NWS offices required to make severe weather forecasts would not change significantly, and these forecasters would need to be working all the time making forecasts in order to fulfill their duty to make severe weather forecasts. If the NWS has to keep their forecasting staff in place, why not continue to let them make their excellent forecasts? Ed Johnson, the weather service's director of strategic planning and policy remarked, "If someone claims that our core mission is just warning the public of hazardous conditions, that's really impossible unless we forecast the weather all the time. You don't just plug in your clock when you want to know what time it is."

Not all private industry would benefit
The Weather Underground, Inc. relies heavily on NWS forecasts and products that would likely be eliminated. Without these products, our company would likely be forced to significantly downsize. Other private weather companies are in the same situation, and smaller TV and radio stations that rely on free NWS forecasts would also suffer. And K-12 schools that rely on the ad-free weather.gov web site would be forced to eliminate some weather education offerings.The bill primarily benefits those private weather companies with large staffs of forecasters that can make forecasts for the entire country, such as AccuWeather and the Weather Channel. Legislation like this has been pushed for many years by the Commercial Weather Services Association, led by AccuWeather, a company based in Pennsylvania. CWSA and AccuWeather managed to get almost identical bill introduced in the House in 1999.

Too much power is given to the Secretary of Commerce
The decisions on which NWS services and products unfairly compete with private industry are given to one person, the Secretary of Commerce. Leaving one politically-appointed person in charge of this decision-making is unwise. A more fair solution would be to form a committee to make the decisions.

How to oppose The National Weather Service Duties Act of 2005
The National Weather Service Duties Act of 2005 is currently before the Senate Commerce Committee, and will have to make it out of there before the full Senate votes on it. The time to kill this bill is now! If you're interested, you can sign a petition opposing the National Weather Service Duties Act of 2005, or write your Senator if he or she is on the Senate Commerce Committee: http://commerce.senate.gov/about/membership.html

Politics

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

Yeah, I fully agree that this is a bad idea. Weather.com and AccuWeather just want their control over the pay-for-forecast market. It's nice to know that something GOOD that my tax dollars go to is being derailed by businesses.
I have already e-mailed my displeasure at this so-called "act" to Sen. Santorum. This is something that we already pay for through tax dollars! Making us then buy the services of some private company is almost like a new tax. This bill is obviously idiotic and will hopefully die in the house as it should.
I have signed the petition and I am also gonna e-mail Sen. santorum. I count of the weather in the mornings. To plan what I have to do during the day.
It is any shock that this 'act' is being proposed by a senator from Penn, home of AccuWeather? As soon as I heard about this bill and read this article, I immediately canceled my premium account with Accuweather.

It's good to see that you guys want to keep this information free.
I work in retail and I especially look forward to the long range forcast and we need the resources of the NWS to keep this accurate. Santorum is filling his pockets with the money from big business to keep us from getting what we need for free.
I work at a boatyard. Many times weather that is NOT "severe" impacts our daily plans. I refer several times daily to both weatherunderground and our local NWS site to keep the operation running smoothly. The NWS sites have loads of info and is crucial to our operation when hurricane season approaches. Hopefully this bill will crash and burn!
Thank you for letting us know. We depend on Wunderground and its links to NWS, for many aspects of farming, not just for severe weather alerts. As long as our taxes support the USWS, we feel we are entitled to the information they produce.

I let Accuweather know we have deleted their link in our Weather folder, and why.
Living in the mountains as I do, Weather can influence how I plan my day. An inaccurate forecast can even be life threatening. I depend on wunderground several times a day. Making tax payers pay a private company for a forecast that is not accurate is nonsense. We must see to it that this bill dies.
This is definitely a public safety issue. As BJohnson wrote, event nonsevere weather can be hazardous - to inexperienced sailors, hikers in riverbeds or other areas, even public outdoor events, where a minor rain unexpectedly turns into thunderstorms.

Will it save money? Not much - national security still requires the weather preparation. The only expense saved would be the cost of dissemination.

Anyone that has lived in europe or elsewhere, has seen the effects of underfunded government weather and the lack of private weather coverage.

Lastly - PLEASE - write by snail mail to your congressman or senator. Written letters have a much greater impact than email.
I have been talking about this on my forums for a few days. This bill is a joke. I doubt it will get past a committee. BUT, if it does, writing a letter or calling your senator is the best way to stop this bill.

Weather Forums:
http://predictrightforums.tk

BTW, these blogs are a great idea. Kudos to the wunderground staff.
Incredible. Absolutely incredible! Just when I think Congress couldn't do something even dumber, they come up with this garbage dump of a bill.

I've never depended on AccuWeather anyway. The best info comes from this site, and I've been dependent on it for years now.

Please everyone, write to your senator and let them know that there are MUCH more important issues. Enough of this idiocy already!
I completely agree this is an awful idea. I have always hated AccuWeather for many reasons including this and because their site is designed to do nothing but confuse people navigating the site.
Another case of give the job to a private company that will pad the politicians pocket. grrr

I will link info to all my WUg buddies.

NWS saves lives...we need to save it.
I am in agriculture and I use this link as my home page. I pay enough in taxes that this information should be free.

If the government was to privitize the NWS this would be a different story, but as everybody knows the government will not privitize the NWS, and I pay taxes!!!! This service should be available to the public at any time...
Just another freedom the right-wing is taking away from the American people. Quite frankly, I truly wish I could leave this miserable country. I could write to Sen. Santorum but why bother. He's another reason to leave this state.
AccuWeather is located in State College. Never been there. Thank you and may God Bless Corporate America and Saudi Arabia.
This is already making the rounds on the political blogs, I bet this won't happen if we can get enough people to call/write their senator. (That actually does work if people get motivated.)

Accuweather:
Administrative (814) 234-9609
Sales (814) 235-8600
or 1 800 566 6606
salesmail@accuwx.com

Here are the Senators who are on the relevant committee.

Ted Stevens - Alaska
http://stevens.senate.gov/
Hart 522 202-224-3004

John McCain - Arizona
http://mccain.senate.gov/
Russell 241 202-224-2235

Conrad Burns - Montana
http://burns.senate.gov/
Dirksen 187 202-224-2644

Trent Lott - Mississippi
http://lott.senate.gov/
Russell 487 202-224-6253

Kay Bailey Hutchison - Texas
http://hutchison.senate.gov/
Russell 284 202-224-5922

Olympia Snowe - Maine
http://snowe.senate.gov/
Russell 154 202-224-5344

Gordon Smith - Oregon
http://gsmith.senate.gov/
Russell 404 202-224-3753

John Ensign - Nevada
http://ensign.senate.gov/
Russell 364 202-224-6244

George Allen - Virginia
http://allen.senate.gov/
Russel 204 202-224-4024

Daniel K. Inouye - Hawaii
http://inouye.senate.gov/
Hart 722 202-224-3934

John D. Rockefeller IV - West Virginia
http://rockefeller.senate.gov/
Hart 531 202-224-6472

John F. Kerry - Massachussetts
http://kerry.senate.gov/
Russell 304 202-224-2742

Byron L. Dorgan - North Dakota
http://dorgan.senate.gov/
Hart 322 202-224-2551

Barbara Boxer - California
http://boxer.senate.gov/
Hart 112 202-224-3553

Bill Nelson - Florida
http://billnelson.senate.gov/
Hart 716 202-224-5274

Maria Cantwell - Washington
http://cantwell.senate.gov/
Hart 717 202-224-3441

Frank Lautenberg - New Jersey
http://Lautenberg.senate.gov/
Hart 324 202-224-3224

E. Benjamin Nelson - Nebraska
http://bennelson.senate.gov/
Hart 720 202-224-6551

Mark Pryor - Arkansas
http://pryor.senate.gov/
Russell 217 202-224-2353

John Sununu - New Hampshire
http://sununu.senate.gov/
Russell 111 202-224-2841

Jim DeMint - South Carolina
http://demint.senate.gov/
Hart 825 202-224-6121

David Vitter - Louisiana
http://vitter.senate.gov/
Hart 825A 202-224-4623

When writing or calling public officials, always remember to be as polite and courteous as possible.
I don't remember them asking me if I wanted to use my money to go to war with Iraq, so why should these politicians get to kick us in the face over the things we like.

I don't think they would want this to happen if they were dealing with something they understood. The NWS provides vital news to the PUBLIC. I really wish the poli's would think about us instead of themselves.
there are hundreds of pigeon racers that check this site faithfully. we just couldn't do without it. this is absurd!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Is it any wonder that the party that won't teach evolution, thinks that regular weather forecasts are best left to the private sector that uses students to forecast the weather? Perfect! These are our tax dollars at work. Only a politician can think like this.
The thoughts of loosing a top notch "General Forcast" from the NWS scares me to death. As a fire fighter with a department that runs a full marine rescue unit, I find it to be a dangerous situation if accurate forcasting would be thrown aside. The boating environment here is comprised of pleasure, commercial fishing, commercial charters and a very large commercial freight sea port. We can see very rough sea conditions without any watches or warnings. This combined with a lack of knowledge of the waters here by thousands of out of area boaters that navigate our coast line will create a serious hazard. We depend on accurate forcasting to keep our visitors informed and safe as well as our crew in the event the need arises to preform a rescue at sea.

We all need to fight this rediculous bill to keep the NWS doing the job they do so well.
Here's the conspiracy! The republicans are trying to "fix" the global warming and heavy weather problems by HIDING it! If it's not reported, it doesn't exist!
22. tjp
GREAT!Whenever there is anything good the government has to get involved and mess it up.
Thank God for the NWS and Weather Underground. I pay for the Weather Channel from Direct TV, but can't stand to use it. Everytime Ilog in to the channel there is a comercial on it. Maybe I'm just unlucky or maybe they have too many commercials. Then the local weather they do have is for a distant (over 60 miles) city, and that flashes by so fast you will miss it if you sneeze. The local??? TV channels do not address the weather where I live and they make you wait and watch all thier commercials to see what they do have.
I personally view the affects of weather to be important enough to overrule any industry regulations that restrict offering forecasts UNLESS other companies are required to uphold a government approved standard. To me though the best way to make sure other companies uphold an excellent standard is to provide a product to compete with them (Which is the way it is now).
This bill has nothing to do with protecting average Americans, it is specifically designed to boost the profits of a certain corporate arena.
I really have yet to see any occasion where "releasing" some manner of service to the so called "efficient" private sector has ended up benefiting the consumer in any way.

Make Rick Santorum pay for taking corporate money in exchange for looking out for the corporations interests instead of ours. This easy purchasing of custom bills has got to stop.
Though I agree most of the statements above, I think ya'll are misinterpreting the facts.

Read the transcript of Senator Santorum's introduction of the bill to the floor and you'll see:

"From [1890] until December 2004, the NWS has had policies sensitive to the importance of fostering the industry's expansion, and ... has had formal policies discouraging its competition with industry. ...[In 1990] the NWS took the extra step of carefully delineating the respective roles of the NWS and the commercial weather industry, ...pledging its intention not to provide products or services that were or could be provided by the commercial weather industry. This longstanding non-competition and non-duplication policy has had the effect of facilitating the growth of the industry...now the best in the world."

In other words, Sen. Santorum is giving the NWS its props, and is only attempting to codify in the federal register what the NOAA's official capacity is, based on NOAA's own prior statements, policies, and agreements.

Why?

Well, it would appear that the NOAA (the Parent of the NWS) REPEALED the NWS's Non-Compete policy, and Santorum is attempting to restore it through law. So, it can be (rightfully) argued that the phenomenal growth and value we've seen over the last decade is DUE to this, not IN SPITE of this.

Remember, Wunderground is NOT a free product. It is a for-profit business, achieving revenue from many streams including advertising, print media, and private subscriptions. It achieved the success it has had under the same circumstances that Santorum is attempting to codify...

Of all the weather channels I choose Weather underground because of the clear, most accurate, easy to navigate channel that I could find. I am a cyclist and I commute by bicycle. I use Wunderground to know the current conditions so I can travel safely I cannot wait to watch it on TV.
Yea, and if I had wheels, I'd be a wagon! I do not see what need there is for changing what is not necessary. Nothing MurphyPhillips has said leads me to this conclusion. I think I'll trust NOAA to decide about how weather forcasting should be implemented, not Rick Santorum. Thank you.
I really want to go off on this but I'll keep it brief. This is dumb, dumb, dumb. And how can the NWS just do severe forecasts without the other forecasting, and how will that save money??? You still need to look at ALL weather systems to make severe weather predictions. What is a waste of taxpayer's money is the cost of this stupid campaign. What about peak oil and an intelligent energy policy??
As a person who has unfortuantely been in two tornados while in my car, I live with my weather radio. It allows me to plan my days and prepare if there is a chnce of severe weather. I WILL not get in a car if there is severe weather coming in or popping. Have I had to wait it out away from home, you bet!!! I do not want to live without continuous NOAA weather forcasts, it is the one thing keeping me sane and letting me lead a somewhat normal life. The fear of dying has been instilled in me since these experiences. A storm chaser is not my calling. I know that NOAA is a government agency paid for by tax dollars, I want access to the current weather provided by NOAA!!!
What will they try to take away next? Weather Radio?
Judging by how many Congress members use NWS... I doubt this bill might pass. Without these forecasts, people might actually die. I've always hated Accuweather because Accuweather donated money to this Senator so the Senator is probably repaying them by introducing this bill. This is what I've heard from my mother, who has actually went to Penn State the same year the Accuweather Chairman did. Again, I doubt this bill will actually pass.
This is a HOT topic on my site and every member of my site is against it. I agree this needs to be killed now. If you are a weather site owner or you own your own site please spread the word on this bill! I have it on my front page. There you will find the bill itself (PDF) as well as how you can help kill this bill. The more individuals that we get on this the harder it will be for them to pass this bill!

Aaron
Owner / WxChat.com
One more example of the ongoing efforts of the majority party to give away the legitimate responsibilities of govrnment to their friends and contributors. Weather information is an ongoing public concern and the dissemination of often lifesaving information will only be negatively affected by this measure.

BTW, I had Accuweather for a few months but they charge too much and provide poor service. But I guess they have to charge more since they're supporting politicians.
Just another sick, sad example of corporate america (AccuWeather) being able to buy their own legislation to cut down on their competition and fatten their bottom line. So we all lose out--we get AccuWeather's inferior, profit-driven forecasts instead of the "ol' reliable" NWS forecasts we've had for decades. If the NWS forecasts stop, then we deserve a refund of our taxes, don't you think? It can come out of Santorum's paycheck and bribes...er, political contributions. ;)
well i agree with everybody but murphy
phillips it sounded like he speeks (politicish... this need to go burn next to the social security bill if
people new why its going bankrupt but
they cant couse didnt bush sign the bill to stop that!................
I live in an area where we have extremely severe weather. I also like to know when that weather passes, if I can go to the beach or play a round of golf. Every day I'm on this site checking the weather to see if it will affect my job... I really hope a legal entity steps in and starts to weed out all these people that are handed jobs by the immediate gov't.
I'm a farmer.
I can't afford a bunch for weather service, but I sure need weather to make good decisions about managing my farm.
I don't need to know sever weather ONLY, I need constant, regular weather. get an idea of when to plant, where to pasture livestock, when I should be getting ready for drought or flood.
I made sure I put on that petition that the farmers in America will not be pleased with that housebill and they need to remember it was lotta farmers who put the repubs in power.(Not all of us, but it's a good point and they need to remember that they will piss off the people who put them where they are.)

Another issue they don't tell the average joe about. More legislation nobody really wants. Less freedom of information.
Hey. Would this violate the freedom of information act? Is there a way they can fight it on those grounds?
Some of you weather guys need to look into that possibility.
Surprise surprise....just another one of the Republicans priorities....so out of touch with American citizens.
UNACCEPTABLE, UNTOLERABLE, UNREASONABLE! So if this bill goes through whats is it gonna mean? MONEY FOR RICK SANTOURM! Very wrong, KEEP NWS THEY DO AN INCREDIBLE JOB!!!!
I like this service and use it daily. i plow snow in the winter and my customers will not want to pay extra so i can get an accurate forcast and be there when they need me. leave the tax dollars and cut out the waste of those tax dollars. government should not get their perks at the expence of the public. if the private sector can provide a service better than nws then they can charge for the service, but the service the nws provides should remain free enabling all citizens to use the service as needed. government has control of the gas prices, dont let them abuse the weather as well.
I have to say that the NWS weather forecasts here in W. NC are almost always wrong.

...and not just a little bit, either. Snow is forecast and we get sun. Sun is forecast and we get rain.

I'm not sure this is a bad thing.
I did write to my Senator, Bill Nelson and also sent information on this disgraceful bill to Ed Schultz and I hope he will talk about it on his radio program.
If Accuweather can buy a Senator for $5,000, then buy him back for $5,001 :-)

Wunderground's most pursuasive argument is that the NWS observers are in place anyhow, but it ignores the fact that they're not doing the forecasting or otherwise creating finished products.

Stress the benefits of NWS forecasts, don't whine about big business dissin' the little people.
I did write to my Senator, Bill Nelson and also sent information on this disgraceful bill to Ed Schultz and I hope he will talk about it on his radio program.
48. bobc
I have been a user of wunderground for many years, and hope it will be able to continue its' great service with the help of NWS.
Why does EVERYTHING need to be privatised? Man, somehow we need to survive this administration. Canada?
Wow, I didn't even realize weather.gov had added all those features. Guess I don't need weather underground when I can just get it from weather.gov for free and without any ads!

Thanks for pointing this service out! :)
I am totally against this move by the senator, I have volunteerly out of my own pocket expense to help my community
by going to spotter classes for over 15 yrs and am a Coop Observer for this area
for 10 yrs I have been a part of the local Skywarn net and have spent countless hours storm spotting. I truely this Bill Dies. By th4 way like many others I have TAKEN ALL LINKS TO ACCUWEATHER OUT OF MY FAVORITES AND THEY WILL NEVER BE SEEN IN THERE AGAIN
lousy bastahds!
I think, as a governmental mimimalist, that although the services rendered by the national weather service are vital, they could perhaps be provided more fairly by firms engaged in private competition, rather than being collectively financed by those who do not necessarily wish to finance the forecasts. However, I don't believe that this bill will result in an improvement over the present situation. I think what might be needed would be a phased privatization of the service over a number of years, ensuring that the skilled forecasters are able to retain their rightly deserved position in the industry. I think that it is a terrible idea to arbitrarily place control over forecasting into the hands of one bureaucrat. I would like to applaud user tomglaab's commentary above, especially his last comment.
I have noticed that many have written to Sen. Santorum. It is important that you write to your senator...not him. He probably introduced this bill to please certain segments of his electorate, and will be unconcerned with letters or email to the contrary, especially outside his district. Please contact the appropriate senator from your state, particularly those at:
http://commerce.senate.gov/about/membership.html
Kudos to notabene and MurphyPhillips for helpful posts
Accu-Weather? haven't heard that name in several months now since our Local TV station quit using their graphics on their weather broadcasts.
In any event, I feel we all will be in bad shape if we have to depend on agencies as Accu-WX to give us our daily dose of weather forecasts, I too say keep it as is, and let this Turkey padding his pockets with funds from this sector as Accu-WX and others like it, go to the devil, and lets' keep the good Old' N.W.S. forecasts, as someone else said, they are wrong sometimes but not nearly as much as some of these private forecaster's are, Weather is not an exact science where 100% correct forecasts are concerned, whomever predicts it, but lets stay with the one who does it best, the National Weather Service. Skywarn Net Comm. Volunteer: for W.G.N.C. S.W. Missouri: J.A. Keen: ame. KJ0-CJJ
(Lugnutjk)
I think there is a little too much panic about nothing. Nowhere in the bill does it say the routine National Weather Service forecasts would be barred from being freely available. Actually, it says quite the opposite. "(c) ISSUANCE OF DATA, FORECASTS, AND WARNINGS- All data, information, guidance, forecasts, and warnings received, collected, created, or prepared by the National Weather Service shall, to the maximum extent practicable, be issued in real time, and without delay, in a manner that ensures that all members of the public have the opportunity for simultaneous and equal access to such data, information, guidance, forecasts, and warnings." I think the main purpose of this bill is to stop the NWS from providing some of the new graphical forecasts, XML-based data, and other items the NWS has recently provided on their own websites. This is a win-win for Weather Underground it seems to me, because these new features will no longer be available from the NWS websites, but the same NWS data still freely available from Weather Underground. Any reduction in government is a good thing, and in this case all private weather providers will benefit more than ever from providing NWS forecasts without worrying that the NWS itself providing the same data on their own website.
Hi, I have been a member/user of wunderground for several years now. I sure hope it will be able to continue with its' great service with the help of NWS!
Hi, I have been a member/user of wunderground for several years now. I sure hope it will be able to continue with its' great service with the help of NWS!
I am fully behind your back, NWS ! This was a rediculous idea!
Accuweather? I've never heard of it until I read this blog. Don't have to worry about it though, after reading this I'll never go there. Weatherunderground is where I'll stay. This bill is a bunch of b.s.

p.s. to Pigeonflyer - my dad raced homing pigeons for many years. Nice to see it still carrying on.

I'm sorry, but the NWS was around way before accuweather could even dream of providing weather! Get out! We want our National Weather Service!
The NWS is the one government agency that actually works and now the gov't wants to take it away from the public? Maybe if the NWS had been as inefficient as other gov't agencies this bill wouldn't exist. This is just a double taxation situation. If passed, then reduce our taxes and charge Accu-weather enough in fees for the data to keep the NWS operating.

The weather underground is one of the best weather sites around - keep up the good work.
I prefer to get the facts and opinions from all sides rather than base my opinions on one side of the story. Could it be that we here are being presented with only one view of the situation. Could it be that if we had run into someone with a different angle on the situation that we would right now have strong opinions coming from a different angle? I prefer to be careful about which bandwagon I jump on.
Don't think of this as limiting online content only. NOAA weather-radio provides more to the marine-community than it does the tornado-belt. NWS policy should be set within NOAA, with policies coming under Congressional oversight, under the budget cycle review as it has been for lo these many years.

"If it ain't broke? Don't fix it."
You have to be kidding me? THE NWS NOT MAKING FORECASTS? What will the Republicans do next?


This sounds to me like a bunch of liberals trying to scare everyone. OH NO THEIR GOING TO TAKE OUR WEATHER AWAY! Come on people grow up. There's even the "This is their way of trying to hide gobal warming"
We pay for NOAA/NWS as a people, partially because their work saves money in every other part of government. NOAA/NWS is critical to FAA air traffic control. Every branch of the military uses NWS reporting every day. The forest service, NASA, local police... Either there is a national weather service or all these agencies have to spend resources on Wx prediction. Since we have to pay for weather predx, we ought to all get to use that data.
I am deeply saddened by Sen. Santorum's proposed bill. I love the service Wunderground provides. For $5 per year to get no ads, I get all the weather information I want and much more. It has been the first site I go to everytime I get on the internet. Accuweather and Weather.com can't even come close. I would have to pay a premium to have ads removed and they still don't have all the information that Wunderground provides through the NWS. Accuweather is particularly frustrating when trying to get the information you are seeking. They entice you with something you want to view only to find out it belongs to their premium service. I have signed the petition and am writing my senators. I am no longer visiting weather.com or accuweather sites. Why go for the Yugo when you have the Cadillac right here?
This whole thing sickens me...
Our tax dollars being spent in a truly sensible and useful way... and that too is under attack.
Folks....This is all panic over nothing! This bill is totally being misread. You will still be able to get the same forecasts from the same NWS and it will still be free. The only thing this bill is addressing is the way the NWS presents that data on their own websites. They will still be required by law to provide forecasts. We as citizens still can access NWS data directly from them if we choose to. This bill is simply preventing the NWS from providing some of these new graphical products available on their own websites like they have been doing recently. This bill is a WIN-WIN for Weather Underground! Instead of people going to the NWS website for products, they will come here! You guys are just shooting yourselves in the foot.
I really like being able to see what the radar forcast is locally before I set out on my bike commute, but my comfort/convenience does not hold a candle to the vast public safety implications of requiring financially strapped and publically funded public safety organizations to pay for information that the people they will have to rescue could not afford to save their lives. This is a perfectly shining example of why Santorum has taken on such a lovely slang meaning.
Several of the points brought up here have certainly caught my attention! While I am not a huge fan of government agencies -- some of which have been caught "red handed" abusing their power and/or (money), I must admit that I have never heard of that about the NWS. I can not say the same about Senators... think about it!

I have, for many years, wondered about the TV/commercial weather forecaster. Even as a kid in the south, when the forecast for the beach (Gulf Coast) would be brilliant for spring break.. only to arrive to something... well...much less! Everyone would conclude that there was a lot of money riding on a forecast. Especially a "rosy" forecast!

Even today... yes today... the forecast for my area had, depending on the source, anywhere from a 20 to a 60 percent chance of rain. The actual events recorded a severe thunderstorm watch for 6 hours of the day! Look on the radar for my area and you'll see the tornado vortex symbol!

Stop and think about what there is to be gained from the maker of a commercial weather forecast. Now compare that to a NWS forecast. Which of these sources are bound to provide entertainment? What will one do to "sell" the weather?

The point has been brought that Wunderground makes money and is a "for profit" service, possibly altering their point of view. I have to respond with: I have spent a lot more money and gotten a whole lot less! How about you?
This morning I watched Accu-weather predict, on a cable investment news channel, a mid-may frost in the cornbelt. Wait till they realize that they could make a similar prediction while holding corn futures
I am deeply saddened by Sen. Santorum's proposed bill. I love the service Wunderground provides. For $5 per year to get no ads, I get all the weather information I want and much more. It has been the first site I go to everytime I get on the internet. Accuweather and Weather.com can't even come close. I would have to pay a premium to have ads removed and they still don't have all the information that Wunderground provides through the NWS. Accuweather is particularly frustrating when trying to get the information you are seeking. They entice you with something you want to view only to find out it belongs to their premium service. I have signed the petition and am writing my senators. I am no longer visiting weather.com or accuweather sites. Why go for the Yugo when you have the Cadillac right here?
I urged Senator Boxer to vote against the Bill.
Hmmm ... our tax dollars finance NWS.
WeatherUnderground gets its info from NWS at no cost. I pay for high speed internet service, and I pay WeatherUnderground $5 per year to get the info I really want to see. Meanwhile WeatherUnderground, a for-profit company, is making money on advertising and site-links. So I'm thinking maybe our tax dollars are subsidizing WeatherUnderground. I bet there are a few people people out there who would choose keep the money they earn instead of paying tax dollars to support WeatherUnderground.
I have been a paying member of this site for a couple of years for a couple of reasons: I get a ton of good weather info, and it's provided on one of the fastest servers that I know of. All the other sites don't have the bandwidth and server capacity when there's a large storm system afecting the US. Your radars are the fastest loading that I have seen. We need to keep the NWS as it is and improve on it, not tear it down.
As a libertarian, I believe there is no valid point in wasting hard-earned tax dollars on a government weather bureau! Weather forecasting is something which can be easily handled by the private sector.
I thought the government was for the people by the people. Give me the liberty to hear the forecast, and not an unforeseen death due to stupidity. Oh and to top that off I just dropped the site from my favorites, and will be dropping the newspaper or papers that accu/weather is in myself. The NWS is for the citizens and not one individual as a pay back for those that contributed to his delinquency. When weather becomes strictly business, then break out the calculator's and start bringing out extra body bags, because the count will rise. Weather is a science, and not a commodity. Someone needs to clarify to the Senator, his job is for the people and not for a business.
81. FZ
Thanks for point out this ridiculous bill, Dr. Jeff. I've been a member of Weather Underground for over 2 years, and am going to continue to stick with your excellent (and inexpensive) service.

I looked up a copy of S. 786. for myself, and your synopsis looked accurate. Two Michigan congressmen have heard from me tonight, and they both know I am opposed the Sen. Santorum's bill.
82. HiFi
In reading some of the comments here, I can easily see how many people are stupid enough to believe the tabloids when they say something like "The terrorists have just hi-jacked a UFO"

Give me a break! Weather Underground makes money for a forecast that is provided free to them.

I find it amazing that one person didn't even know that all this same information and more is on the NWS page.

Before you tell your Senators to vote against this bill, try reading both sides of the issues and even the bill first, before you jump on the 'O My Gosh!' band wagon.

The Wunderground has a reason for wanting us to be against this bill. A money reason that is. Think about it.

I am totally against this move by the senator, I have volunteerly out of my own pocket expense to help my community
by going to spotter classes for over 15 yrs and am a Coop Observer for this area
for 10 yrs I have been a part of the local Skywarn net and have spent countless hours storm spotting. I truely this Bill Dies. By th4 way like many others I have TAKEN ALL LINKS TO ACCUWEATHER OUT OF MY FAVORITES AND THEY WILL NEVER BE SEEN IN THERE AGAIN
Here in the remote places of the United States, commercial services like Weather Channel and AccuWeather do a very poor job of predicting the weather. Why? Because there isn't enough money in it for them. Just like the de-regulation of the electrical industry gave us Enron, the de-regulation of weather forecasting will give us lousy weather forecasting.

Those of you nay-sayers (and there are only a couple of you, thankfully) are missing the point here. Most of us taxpayers GLADLY pay our hard earned dollars for a public service (NWS) which sets the gold-standard in forecasting.

However, if you go to weather.gov (which I do frequently) you will find a lot of weather information that is poorly laid out for a quick check of the local weather. This is where Wunderground comes in. This for-profit company packages and presents all that wonderful data into a wonderful product that I, once again, will pay my good money to get.

BTW, Sen. Santorum's bill purports to make NWS provide all of its products to everyone equally. Guess what? It already does. Go to weather.gov and click on any graphic, database, etc. that you want. You can look at it all. That part of the bill is complete hogwash. NWS provides the best weather information in the world to all of us equally (as it should). Commercial entities like Wunderground also do us a service by packaging this information in a wonderful, fast, convinient package. We don't need this bills "help" in protecting larger commercial interests from this wonderful font of PUBLIC information.

End rant....
If this service wasn't so accurate I may go elsewhere. The fact is the infomation is 'spot on' everytime and the rubbish the weather channel publishes by comparison is laughable.

Which TV station does the senator have an interest in? Where do people like this get such rediculous ideas?
Get rid of NASA and Puerto Rico instead.
P.S. I like the government, just not some of its politicians.
Also, the word is spelled
R-I-D-I-C-U-L-O-U-S. There is no "e" in that word.
It's apparent that about 95% of the people posting here have no idea what they're talking about and are not interested in learning. A couple of people who have posted detailed explanations have been ignored by the parrots who keep repeating the same thing over and over.
Political losers whine about everything. One guy wants to leave the country!
How pathetic...I wish he would leave. Maybe go to Iran or Saudi Arabia and try exercizing his right of free speech there.
Wake up and pay attention, learn a bit about the topic, stop the knee-jerk ignorant reactions. Sure, as if you were capable of doing that!
I guess I can predict the weather as good as the next guy, Right? Thats what there saying. I guess summer will be hot, fall and spring will be cool, winter will be cold with snow north rain south. There, cant be wrong with that.
Now as for bad weather look out the window, is the sky sunny and blue must be clear, oops I see clouds in the west sky must be going to rain, unless it winter then it may snow.
We all need to go out and buy the weather rock! You know, if the rock is wet it raining, if its white - it must be snowing, if its cold - its cold, if its warm and dry it must be sunny and warm, if its moving its windy.
Does any of this make sense? Well neither does the bill. Let the weather service do their job they have done for so many years, granted they may not ALWAYS be correct, but can somebody else do better and second guess mother nature????
Well since everybody else got their 10 minutes of fame, here is mine. I have absolutely nothing intelligent to say, just like half of the posts above. Well maybe I have one thing to say, how intelligent it is I don't know. Here goes: The weather in Indiana changes more often than most people yawn. If you don't like the weather in Indiana, wait a minute.
A person identified as duncanwx hit the nail on the head. As usual, liberals are hitting the panic button and appealing to our emotional responses. The proposed bill would NOT end NWS forecasts, only make NWS competetive with other forecasting entities. As duncanwx pointed out in his post, Weather Underground would actually benefit from the provisions of the bill. This notion that ONLY government can do it right is so absolutely illogical and silly. Some here have even threatened to LEAVE the country over this issue. I suspect that comments along these lines betray the writer's actual motivation, namely the seething rage and hatred against Republicans or anyone departing from the party live published every day by Ted Kennedy, the New York Times and Michael Moore. Get with it folks. Let's srop the unending assault by liberals opon conservatives and start looking out for what is GOOD for the nation. Nothing in the proposed bill in question would destroy NWS nor would it mean a threat to anyone's safety. And how come it's only when a Republican proposes curtailing government expenditures that the libs have a cow? Any other time they can't stop talking about how the government is spending too much and the national deby is getting out of hand. What hypocrisy. Political maneuvering at every moment of the day and on every issue at hand all for the purpose of trying to get back power from Republicans. What ever happened to the old Democratic party that had a few people looking out for the country's welfare? Liberalism is imploding and many of the comments in this forum on this weather forecast proposed bill prove just how extreme and spastic some people on the left have become.
It is great to see people with opinions on both sides of the issue. Let us try to keep this discourse civil and polite.

I am one of the founders/developers of wunderground and I freely admit we rely heavily on the work of the tax funded NWS to make a living. On the other hand, we have spent considerable man years taking very raw data and making it widely available to millions of users. The number of servers and amount of bandwidth we pay for would amaze alot of you. That aside.

My biggest problem with this bill, is that if certain players in the private sector believe they have built a system of forecasting that should replace the NWS's ability to freely provide general forecast, then everyone should be willing to pay them for better forecasts just because they are more "accurate", not because its their only option.

It seems kind of like stopping the USPS from being able to deliver mail because FedEx rather charge you their overnight rates. The NWS is a wonderful public service, and we hope to make even more of their products readily available for year to come!

Thanks for your comments!

Be kind, and please be respectful of everyones opinions! Thanks for using our site!
This is an obnoxious bill, and a pernicious one, regardless of its ultimate fate. It is one more slithering attempt to set yet another precedent along the tiresome lines of limitless corporate greed. I strongly object to being obliged to become dependent in the all-important matter of the weather on the tender mercies (and imprecise forecasts) of accuweather et al.

The local weather is of intense abiding interest and vital importance to me- and only wunderground provides the reliable updated precision I depend on. Furthermore, anyone who has been paying attention to both the weather and systemic climate changes all over the world, can safely predict that the local weather forecast is only going to become more and more critical as time goes by. Meteorology is a crucial service in the public interest, and as a class of vital information absolutely must not be forcibly privatized for profit.

Most people may think this is a relatively unimportant matter, but it is not. After all, we are speaking about the weather- not some bit of arbitrary bit of consumer frippery, but the environment which contains all else.
And there is more to it even than that- there is also a vital principle at stake here. Quite often seemingly small legal buffooneries are directly related to urgent and much larger human predicaments. In this case: Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Eisenhower were all quite explicit on the dangers of incursions by corporate interests into basic areas of the general public welfare. Each of these deservedly hallowed icons of patriotism warned in no uncertain terms that increasing corporate influence and power in this country deeply endangers the democratic process.

Considering the corporate-based economic reality today, do such concepts as theirs sound antiquated, hopelessly idealistic, or perhaps even "wrong"? If so, then reading what they actually thought about corporations as a deadly class of non-responsible legal entities will create a most interesting form of cognitive dissonance. In their own words, the greatest leaders and thinkers America has produced will provide the most ironically useful demonstration: how far we have drifted from the ideal of a Republic.




chris, the wunderground contribution to meteorology is outstanding. Our weather facility has been reporting its data 3 times an hour for the past 14 months. In that time we have noticed several nearby locations being added to the private station reports. The expansion of reporting locations is of great value, especially following the reduction of government paid observers in recent years. If you are a person who helped assemble wunderground, you have done us all a great service and can be proud of what wunderground offers us today.
chris, the wunderground contribution to meteorology is outstanding. Our weather facility has been reporting its data 3 times an hour for the past 14 months. In that time we have noticed several nearby locations being added to the private station reports. The expansion of reporting locations is of great value, especially following the reduction of government paid observers in recent years. If you are a person who helped assemble wunderground, you have done us all a great service and can be proud of what wunderground offers us today.
as a wildland firefighter, i want my local nws office providing me with the information i need in regards to the weather, not someone back in pa. the nws does an outstanding job, and this is one of the most outlandish ideas/bills to come out of the political world since the mess in fl. keep the nws around, and just the way it is right now!
98. Lynn
I am fully aware that Wunderground uses NWS forecasts and gladly pay the $5 a year, but I like their website layout, plus I can add my own weather station info. NWS doesn't hype severe weather, like TWC might do just to get you to watch their broadcasts or visit their websites. I say keep NWS they do a great job!
Previous comment: Here in the remote places of the United States, commercial services like Weather Channel and AccuWeather do a very poor job of predicting the weather. Why? Because there isn't enough money in it for them

That is true where I live - there is little incentive for the big commercial weather producers to provide information about my region of the country. If this bill passes, I loose for no good reason. Once again.
As a Dispatcher for BNSF RR I relay on WWW.WUNDERGROUND.COM to keep me updated on the weather. Its one thing to work where the weather is, but to be in a office in TX and to be working 150+ miles of railroad 1000 miles away from here. For the safety of the crews, trains and local residents I keep a close eye on WWW.WUNDERGROUND.COM!

I'm not the most political savvy person around, but I find the reasoning off the wall for this! I 2nd all the intelligent comments stated from the reply's before me!

I'm well into my 2nd year as a member and plan to continue to be one for years to come. 99.99% of the time I can boot-up my computer at home and get the weather from WWW.WUNDERGROUND.COM before I can get it off the TV or radio at home. The PDA/Mobile service by WWW.WUNDERGROUND.COM is far superior then anyone's else services!

Thanks you WWW.WUNDERGROUND.COM!

Donald Mallett
Fort Worth TX
I too use this service every day. I am a delivery driver with FEDEX and I count on accurate forcasting. I only get what I need from this site........WeatherUnderground/ Rick Leahigh
My biggest fear of this bill would be being put in a position that I would have to eventually pay to know if I can go golfing, camping, etc.

That is on a personal level.

On a professional level - the day to day weather is critical need to know information for us. I work for a small highway department and yes we do have to go out and sand the roads even when it is not advisory status. We plan on sweeping the sand from the road when it is raining to elminate the dust factor. Paving, patching and drainage are also issues.




.this small town is on a major river pathway, entire towns wash away down river during severe flooding. This is a handicap facility..many can't afford cable TV.In the mountains, with out cable TV, we get one station ABC.and often, the weather is not on until & am or later.I'd hate to see one of my fellow neighbors driving off into the dark, and die-ing on a wet back road, that is flooded, because, free internet access to weather has become banned.
The only way I would be in favor of something like this is if they eliminated the NWS altogether. Then, at least, we'd save some tax dollars. If those guys are gonna be there anyhow, why can't we see their forcasts?
Reading opinions posted in forums such as this is not something I do and the posting of a response is even rarer. However.

You will find me checking the weather here daily and sometimes more often. The forecasts are accurate - as much as a weather forecast can be. Lets face it folks; this is as much an art as a science. Compared to other alternatives, I prefer this site.

This is not a treatise just some food for thought. Anytime someone offers to eliminate a government program, my automatic reaction is GREAT DO IT. Our all-pervasive federal government has created a zillion dollar debt by adding program after program to take care of us and we have come to rely on it. From the New Deal on, more and more programs our proffered by the Feds and the social engineers who bless em know whats best for us. BULL!!

I dont know the Senators motives. It seems whenever there is evidence of pork barrel politics then it must be sinister. Politicians, just like those in every other walk, have their good and bad apples. Lets dont automatically say this is politics as usual. And, lets dont automatically accept Mr. Masters opinion. Do your research first.

For those of you who may have forgotten, we established this government as an alternative to the one whose favorite pastime was telling us what to do. Guess what this governments favorite pastime is?

Check this out. The NOAA National Weather Service announced the implementation of a new Heat/Health Watch Warning System in the Seattle area. Seattle joins 14 other metropolitan areas using the Heat/Health Watch Warning System as guidance for issuing Excessive Heat Watches, Excessive Heat Warnings and Heat Advisories. Now the Feds are telling us when its hot. We obviously can no longer make that determination for ourselves.
Santorum is out of control, this is givaway to private business special interests. Certainly, it is in the interest of individual citizens to continue having NWS and it's public forecasts.

As far as saving tax dollars by eliminating the NWS altogether... why not save tax dollars by auctioning off the interstate highway system so we can have a network of corporate owned toll roads? These Republican neo-con extremists are selling our country out to these special business interests!

I have phoned each Commerce Commitee Senator's office to register my extreme displeasure with Santorum's gift to the corporate owned forcasting companies.
108. 2fer
I wonder if anyone has looked into Senator Santorum's campaign contributions to see if there are any obvious connections with NWS "competitors". It is difficult to believe that his introduction of this bill was driven by his passionate believe in privately-funded weather services.
Big Bob, let me ask you something. How many millions of Americans pay taxes--150, 200 million? How much do you think each one of us would stand to save if the NWS was eliminated entirely--a buck or two, perhaps? Now, for anyone who supports this proposed reduction in NWS services, how much do you think we stand to save? Fifty cents? A quarter? Come on, this isn't about partisan politics, it's about common sense. We stand to loose far more than we would gain.
This is just almost too much from the feds. We live at 4,000 feet in the Blue Ridge Mountains--last summer we got 36" of rain from the remnants of three hurricanes. We were not in danger of flooding but I know the folks lower down in the county were at extreme risk. The updates on the rain amounts, movement of storms was vital. The same is true in the winter with the storms coming in.

Wish we could decide what our tax dollars were to be spent for--this would be on my list and MANY things would not.

I just signed the petition and am forwarding to friends.

We are retired and do NOT have cable or satellite so wunderground is a lifeline for us.

Thanks for the blog!

NWS forecasts are STILL PROTECTED under this bill. Everyday weather entusiasts wiull see little if any effect from this bill! This bill specifically requires the NWS to continue posting forecasts, watches, warnings, advisories, etc in a rapid and timely manner.

Let me see if I can come up with an example of what this bill will do... Let's say Weather Underground comes up with a shareware program that downloads and displays all Nexrad images in near real-time, and also included a real-time map display of watches and warnings and allows you to archive them for later viewing, etc. THEN, along comes the NWS who sees this and they decide to provide a similar program for free! Well, after several instances similar to this, Weather Underground gets frustrated, because there is no longer any incentive to innovate new things. This bill would PREVENT the NWS from doing that! The NWS would still have to provide the raw data for free to anyone who wants it.

This is why I think the Weather Underground is shooting themselves in the foot, with all due respect, by opposing this bill. This bill will prevent the NWS from reinventing new things that the private sector has already innovated!
One can disagree with the bill without bringing up the war, the right etc. That's the problem today, people see everything through their myopic agenda.

Can anyone, give anyone else the benefit of the doubt anymore? People need to at least act like an adult and debate the merits of the bill.

I disagree with the bill; accurate weather forecasts are a must in today's economy. Email and ask Sen. Santorum to answer the questions raised in this blog.
Being rather cynical, I'm thinking we
have the best politicians money can buy.

Left or right, Democrat or Republican,
it matters not.
The fact that certain commercial interests
happen to be located in the Senator's area
tends to strengthen my opinion...
I emailed my Senator (Sen. Sununu) with various questions and concerns. If prior posts are true and NWS forecasts are not at risk, then fine, if not I hope additional discussion at the Cmte will clarify what is and isn't going to be allowed.
Stopping NWS from forcasting the weather is a dangerous proposition. Most of us rely on the accuracy of a constant stream of reliable data provided by NWS offices. I believe that many of the private weather forcasts are based on this data and compared to NWS forecasts before being released.

Oddly enough this is one of the few Goverment services that is utilized by every American. Sen. Santorum what lobbist bought you?
Hmmmm...I am going to do more research on this Bill. It seems that a lot of people are jumping to the view of wunderground. I love the detail and information provided by wunderground and if I had to pay more for it I would. Maybe the NWS should charge commercial weather provides an information fee and than wunderground or companies of the like charge for the information to consumers. The government wins in paying down a debt (I would hope) and wunderground in turn can profit. Seems to be the way of the consumer world. I may have more to say on this as I inform myself.

And...I like my weather without politics, thanks.
One of the greatest attributes of the NWS is the ability of the public to monitor and evaluate their "discussions" and analysis behind the daily forecast -- I'm sure that this will not be the case with private sector forecasts!
Searching through several news and information sites I find the same comments like this:
http://www.computerworld.com/governmenttopics/government/legislation/story/0,10801,101345,00.html
...copy this link to your browser to read.

I would say this bill is a big win for wunderground! Pass it and wunderground willl continue to profit. Not passing the bill and wunderground will lose poeple to the NWS free site. I find myself there as much here.
This hurts meteorology students NATION WIDE!!! I am a student in meteorology at Purdue University and absolutly all of our data stems directly from the NWS!!! Shutting this down would mean research losses and the demise of our weather processor. Without the data from the NWS, our weather processor won't work making forecasting a thing of the past for Purdue Students. Who forecasts long hand on scratch paper? I guess I will if this bill passes.
The weather affects all of our lives, whether we choose to recognize the fact or not. The NWS forecasts, especially the technical discussions, provide vital information for both our professional and avocational lives. To be without such forecasts, to deal with the awful loom of privatization in this area of public information that affects all of our lives, seems so contrary to our membership in a democratic society.
122. Rama
For people that don't think this is a big deal, focus on section 2 paragraph b subsection 1. This basically says the Sectretary of Commerce, a politician not a scientist, can tell the NWS NOT to issue a product that s/he feels that the private sector can handle. The ONLY things exempt from what s/he can order the NWS to stop issuing is under section 2 paragraph a subsection 1, which is severe weather forcasts and warnings, and products demanded by international aviation agreements.

With both Accuweather and The Weather Channel and countless other media outlets issuing their own local forecasts, there's nothing in this bill to stop the politican from ordering the NWS to stop issuing their forecasts. As it is in the bill now, it almost encourages them.
This is totally ludicrous! Once again government is stepping in to support the private sector in ways the private sector should not be supported.

I remember when private businesses took pride in meeting or exceeding the quality of product from the public sector without help, influence or other support gleaned from the public sector to "get it done". The private sector used to work harder to provide better information, etc. than the public sector and in the resulting competitive spirit of it all the product from both "sides" improved tremendously! Such was the way with competition. One gets better, the other strives to improve and regain the lead and so forth.

Not so today! Nope, the "privates" moan, belly-ache, whine and cry their way to the top of mediocrity by crying "foul" when free public information is available that is more detailed than that information they provide. They claim it's an abuse of "their" tax dollars. They no longer try to improve their product to keep up... instead they take a different approach. They try to choke off the free public access to sources of information, forcing those who used to use those public sources to go elsewhere, pay a fee and get inaccurate or inadequate information.

I for one rely on public sources of info for a multitude of things. I also use reliable private sector competitors to get a good "cross section" for my research, etc. I've noticed the "reliability" and accuracy of the private sector info has dropped tremendously unless you're willing to pay premium fees beyond the initial, basic sign up fees.

Now, to use our own elected officials to wean us away from free publicly provided information is not only a travesty it's outright criminal collusion!

If this ever comes about I will vow never to subscribe to any private weather (or other private informational) source. I'll go back to going outside, looking to the west, looking to the east, throwing a leaf into the air to see which way it blows, looking up into the sky to check out the building clouds, give the weather the ol' wet thumb test go back inside and announce to those who are in the need to know that the weather's either not changing or changing.

The whole idea behind Senate Bill S.786 is another senseless grab by the greedy, unachievers who can't adequately compete.

My thoughts, for what they're worth.
I love the few pro statements comming from people in this forum. You've proven the point to me this country has really gone down the tubes. The NWS works well. Leave it alone. Nothing in the world of weather related sites really has to change as far as i'm concerned. You have to ask yourself, why this guy is wasting time on this bill? And i'm sorry, privatizing never works. The govt., unlike what most people think, does do a better job in most areas than a private company.
Rama and others...please take the time to READ THE BILL. Especially the subsection which states the following... "* (1) IN GENERAL- All data, information, guidance, forecasts, and warnings
received, collected, created, or prepared by the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration or the National Weather Service shall, to the
maximum extent practicable, be issued in real time, and without delay for
internal use, in a manner that ensures that all members of the public have
the opportunity for simultaneous and equal access to such data, information,
guidance, forecasts, and warnings."...

There is no danger whatsoever in losing any free forecast content from the NWS. these products you people are all worried about will still be 100% FREE to the public. Everyday weather entusiasts will see little or no change in how you access your data.
Hmmm... such a diverse set of responses. My two main objections to this bill are 1: Although it does appear to ensure the continued flow of information to the public, it does also appear to place the decision concerning what and how much in the hands of one individual, the Commerce Secretary. Given the fact that this position is subject to the whims of the prevailing administration of the day, I'm less than confident that we will continue to see the excellent information from the NWS unrestricted. 2: My comment in the petition will suffice here - " I would like to make it perfectly clear that I as a private citizen and taxpayer, am opposed to this legislation. One of the mandates of a governmental system is the protection of its citizens. To this end, the NWS is an invaluable asset and is one of the better examples of my taxes being well spent. As a scientist and amateur weather forecaster, I have compared the information from the various private organisations and have consistently found the NWS to be superior in all aspects. I would be very displeased if I could not get my daily feed of information from them. With all of the serious issues facing this country that the congress can do something about (energy and tort reform are at the top of my list), I find it hard to beleive that you've got time to waste considering the pro's and con's of how the NWS's information should be resticted. Please drop this bill and move on to more important issues. Thank You."
I also find wunderground.com to be very useful and have supported it for a long time. It gives me a single page from which I can quickly access many different features and I gladly pay the modest fee for the lack of ads. I see no problem with both the NWS and private groups co-existing and even competing. And since they are doing just that, and surviving, why do we need legislation to deal with what, from my perspective, isn't a problem?
I love the few pro statements comming from people in this forum. You've proven the point to me this country has really gone down the tubes. The NWS works well. Leave it alone. Nothing in the world of weather related sites really has to change as far as i'm concerned. You have to ask yourself, why this guy is wasting time on this bill? And i'm sorry, privatizing never works. The govt., unlike what most people think, does do a better job in most areas than a private company.
I am concerned, yet busy. Could anyone provide a link to relevant talking points to assist in a letter writing campaign. "Cut & paste" paragraphs would be cool, or a complete letter. Thank you.
This is totally ludicrous! Once again government is stepping in to support the private sector in ways the private sector should not be supported.

I remember when private businesses took pride in meeting or exceeding the quality of product from the public sector without help, influence or other support gleaned from the public sector to "get it done". The private sector used to work harder to provide better information, etc. than the public sector and in the resulting competitive spirit of it all the product from both "sides" improved tremendously! Such was the way with competition. One gets better, the other strives to improve and regain the lead and so forth.

Not so today! Nope, the "privates" moan, belly-ache, whine and cry their way to the top of mediocrity by crying "foul" when free public information is available that is more detailed than that information they provide. They claim it's an abuse of "their" tax dollars. They no longer try to improve their product to keep up... instead they take a different approach. They try to choke off the free public access to sources of information, forcing those who used to use those public sources to go elsewhere, pay a fee and get inaccurate or inadequate information.

I for one rely on public sources of info for a multitude of things. I also use reliable private sector competitors to get a good "cross section" for my research, etc. I've noticed the "reliability" and accuracy of the private sector info has dropped tremendously unless you're willing to pay premium fees beyond the initial, basic sign up fees.

Now, to use our own elected officials to wean us away from free publicly provided information is not only a travesty it's outright criminal collusion!

If this ever comes about I will vow never to subscribe to any private weather (or other private informational) source. I'll go back to going outside, looking to the west, looking to the east, throwing a leaf into the air to see which way it blows, looking up into the sky to check out the building clouds, give the weather the ol' wet thumb test go back inside and announce to those who are in the need to know that the weather's either not changing or changing.

The whole idea behind Senate Bill S.786 is another senseless grab by the greedy, unachievers who can't adequately compete.

My thoughts, for what they're worth.
130. LBBTB
I really hate that the government in this country has nothing else better to do than to pick on someone who chooses to report the weather. We have terrorist that are plotting this very minute how they want to destroy the nation that we live in, they choose to pick on the weather man. Needless to say that bill is a bunch of BS, weather pro sites have never hurt anyone. Maybe all the forecasters need to get together and forecast a warm sunny day in Dallas, TX when really there is going to be a tornado outbreak...Then maybe they could appreciate the job that these guys do. But realistically, I will be writing a letter telling them to focus on my $2.25 gas price and not on something so trivial.
Ok, folks... Here's my understanding of the deal here.

What the NWS does now: Collect and disseminate weather information both in the form of forecasts and in the form of the raw data (provided in easily accessible formats). This information is all currently provided for free.

What wunderground, TWC, Accuweather, and your local weatherman (or weatherwoman) do now: Read this information provided by the NWS (along with any weather data collected by their respective organizations, i.e. many TV channels have their own provate weather radar system.) They then interpret this information and (sometimes) provide their own, independant forecasts based on their reading of the NWS data & forecasts (and their own data, if any).

How these companies make money: Because they are essentially re-packaging what is fundamentally free information, they must add some value of their own if the public is going to want to pay them. This means either tabulating data into useful forms and layouts (like this site), providing more carefully reasoned forecasts (like a very well-seasoned local weatherman might be able to do...?), or make that data available in a more widespread medium (like the Weather Channel in your hotel room).

What the proposed legislation would do: change the way in which the data gathered by the NWS is disseminated. The bill is fuzzy about what, precisely, the changes will be, but in essence it would eliminate any "product or service ... that is or could be provided by the private sector" (subect to certain conditions).

Also, "the term `product or service' means a product, service, device, or system that provides, senses, or communicates meteorological, hydrological, climatic, solar, or oceanographic data, forecasts, or other similar information"

Posters to this thread speaking out in defense of the bill are correct that this would eliminate "high-end" products like, perhaps, animated radar displays, etc.

However, the bill could also be read to say that the "low-level" data repackaged by sites like this one would no longer be available in conveniently accessible formats over the web: "Data, information, guidance, forecasts, and warnings shall be issued ... through a set of data portals designed for volume access by commercial providers of products or services"

Does this mean no web access to raw data (which is relied on by sites like this one)? Well, I for one think it at least could be read this way. Because there could certainly exist commercial data portals that are not web-based... and web-based access to the raw data is certainly a service that could be provided by the private sector.

So what this would mean, essentially, is that the business of selling weather data would change. Yes, rudimentary information from the NWS would still be available for free, but the raw data would become the exclusive domain of commercial interests. This means, essentially that sites like Accuweather, and, in theory, this one, would basically be able to charge a lot more, because they would not only be adding value by re-packaging something that's otherwise free, but they would also be providing the only means of access for the public to that information.

So the value they're selling is not only in what they add to the data, but is in the data itself.

Because, as a taxpayer, I'm already paying for the collection of that data, I don't like the idea of giving commercial interests the exclusive right to profit from providing access to that data. I feel that I would, in essence, be paying for the information twice - once to collect it (through my taxes), and again to access it (through proprietary websites).

I say, let the data remain free of cost, and let the private sector make its money by using its ingenuity to come up with ways to add value to that data. Don't restrict access to the data for the sole reason that the data theoretically *could* be charged for in transmission.

Ok, I'm done. I hope this is helpful to someone!
132. LBBTB
I really hate that the government in this country has nothing else better to do than to pick on someone who chooses to report the weather. We have terrorist that are plotting this very minute how they want to destroy the nation that we live in, they choose to pick on the weather man. Needless to say that bill is a bunch of BS, weather pro sites have never hurt anyone. Maybe all the forecasters need to get together and forecast a warm sunny day in Dallas, TX when really there is going to be a tornado outbreak...Then maybe they could appreciate the job that these guys do. But realistically, I will be writing a letter telling them to focus on my $2.25 gas price and not on something so trivial.
My problem with Accuweather has always been their use of sensationalism to get clients. An example is Joe Bastardi's winter forecasting of always a big east coast storm on the horizon. These storms almost never materialize.

Of course, I oppose the Senate bill. Doesn't sound to me that anyone at Accuweather or The Weather Channel is starving. They will always have their media, energy, and agriculture clients.

Why fix something that isn't broken?
Doesn't the government have anything better to do than worrying about the weather? Obviously they have too much time on their hands. They need to be working on more important things like taking back control of an insurance industry dictating people's medical needs or getting our men and women home safely from overseas. I check weather underground every day. It gives great and accurate forecasts and I never have a problem getting access to it. Shame on the government!! I can't wait for the next election. I think it is time to take out the garbage!!
Bongo/BillKodak: It's apparent that most of the respondants just don't get it.

It's reasonable to expect that this would allow and/or require the NWS to OUTSOURCE some of its functions to the private sector, while retaining its ability to provide ALL the products it currently provides.

Under the Federal Activities Inventory Reform Act, passed in 1998 ("The Clinton Years), requires such measures be investigated and instituted where practicle.

The latest case in point was that the FAA this year began outsourcing the Flight Service Stations that are under the DOT. Lockheed Martin is being paid BY the FAA to modernize and operate the Flight Service Stations, and is expected to save taxpayers in excess of $2.2 Billion over 10 years. The aviating public is expected NOT to see nothing but improved service as a result.

In short, the service is being outsourced to BY the public, to PRIVATE corporations that can prepare and deliver the product more efficiently.
Ooops, I hate it when I do double negatives, I intended to say:

The aviating public is expected to see nothing but improved service...
Please, please, please go read this bill for yourselves. Some on this blog are defending this bill, and I guess it is their right to do so. However, after reading the bill and the post article, I can find absolutely nothing good about it.

Living in rural west texas, we can't depend soley on severe weather forecasts to defend ourselves from weather and fire events. It takes continual monitoring even when things appear to be "sunny and warm."

I agree with the quote in the post article that said, "we have already paid for this data once, why pay for it again?"

I hate politics. People are people whether Democrat or Republican. Some decisions will be good, some bad, regardless of affiliation. The moment you begin to decide things on a liberal or conservative basis, you give up your free will to use your brain and decide for yourself. I would identify myself as mostly conservative, Republican, but am proud to say this bill stinks and should be voted down.

Thanks Wunderground, for taking the data that I have already paid for and packaging it into a product that I can use, for a price I can still afford. $0.00 (I don't mind the ads!)
I'm for anything that reduces the size of government, but as is pointed out this probably will not have much impact.

I will write my senator.
IMO, Senator Santorum is only interested in helping AccuWeather's business (a Pennsylvania based company) and is jeopardizing our way of life. Unlike many other govt expediture programs, NWS products are something ALL US citizens benefit from. Maybe the Senator should opt to cut out the "over-porked" congressional pension packages instead. Also, an investigation should be done to see what relationship Sen. Santorum has with AccuWeather or it's principals. Looks to me there is a conflict of interests.
What about WX radio ??? Did everyone forget this ??? I doubt that private industry will find it 'profitable' to put out forecasts out for remote, low-population areas that many of us use for recreation.
Sure looks like another goverment giveaway for which the Republicans are well known.

Have the taxpayers front the money to get something going ... then give the service away to business so they can charge for a product for which they had no up front expense.

144. deef
Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I've called Santorum's office, and just e-mailed Sen. Boxer (I live in CA) and voiced my opposition and pointed out that WU has offices in San Francisco, too.
DO NOT MAIL YOUR REP, FAX!!! Snail mail is not nearly as effective as it once was given the security concerns on the hill. Use the fax machine for the best results, then follow-up with a call.
We us this site daily to assist us in our car washing business. We have found this to be the most accurate weather information available. The 10 min max updates on satalite pictures is very helpful. I agree with others in that we don't need the publicity and sensationalism added to the local forcast we get from our local meteorologist. We prefer the NWS information. Keep up the good work.
147. kjt
If it's not broken... What are the problems this bill trying to address?

This is a time when the government should be focusing on fiscally responsible activities and not creating more beaurocracy.


If you're interested in the full text of the bill:
148. kjt
Link post for full text of bill:
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c109:s786:

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c109:s786:
I do support cutting useless government spending; however, weather forecasting is not in this category. People use forecasts to avoid danger days ahead. If the NWS can only issue statements when danger is eminent, than there is less ability to be cautious and preventative in encountering dangerous weather situations. I know I wont make plans to go to the beach if I there is a chance there is going to be a hurricane a week from now. Planning to avoid danger is not only smart; it saves the lives of victims and rescuers alike. Not to mention the money that can be saved from rescue operations if people arent in harms way to begin with.
It's fascinating that yet another right-wing initiative will do the most harm to the Red (Republican) parts of the country. I work in very Blue New York City, which gets plenty of attention from the Weather Channel and Accuweather. I live in rural upstate New York, where "And now for your local weather on the eights" means a scroll through current conditions in major cities and local radio weather might as well be yesterday's. By contrast, Wunderground gives me a wealth of real-time information, including Doppler radar, satellite images, local amateur station readings -- the resources are literally astonishing. Any curtailing of Wunderground's services would be a terrible loss. In fact, I would gladly pay considerably more for Wunderground. And please note, free-market radicals: Wunderground is a business, like Senator Santorum ostensibly supports. It's just not in Pennsylvania.

Write the Commerce Committee, whether your Senator sits on it or not!
I wrote a letter to John Kerry (he was closest) to urge him NOT to support this bill. As a park ranger theres no way to turn on the TV and watch the weather channel or log onto accuweather in the middle of the day.We need NWS weather broadcasts!
Ok...I read the bill. Given the statement of item (b) and the definitions in item (f), and some knowledge of who is sponsoring this legislation, I've come to the conclusion that this bill is clearly an attempt to move the vast majority of the functions performed by NOAA and NWS to the private sector.

Item (f) not only covers analysis and formatting of data, but it also covers "sensing", or the data acquisition itself. It will be claimed, if this bill should pass, that NEXRAD, along with all the NWS observation stations, and any other data acquired and dissemintated by NOAA and NWS can be acquired and dissemintated by private sector companies. Thus, collecting data will put NOAA and NWS in violation of the competition clause of this bill, and all data collection will be transistioned to private companies. In order to comply with its duties under (a)(1), NWS will buy data feeds from the private companies, and issue watches, warning, and advisories based on this data.

This will devastate small companies and private individuals who rely on the wealth of free data provided by NOAA and NWS for their livelihood. Or, are we to believe that private companies will freely disseminate their data, like NWS does now?

The result will be analogous to electric utility service in the 1930's, and cellular phone service today. There will be a plethora of data providers for the metropolitan areas, and minimal data, or perhaps even no data, for rural areas. As another poster pointed out, another piece of Republican legislation that devastates the "Red" states.

Not every beneficial and necessary sevice that our country requires can be be provided affordably to the end users at a profit, which makes these services poor candidates for privatization. NOAA and NWS fit this category, and that's why they should remain in the realm of the Federal government.
Please keep an eye on this and keep us informed. If it gets out of committee, the public needs to know about this and really put the pressure on.

JosephB: Yours is one of the very few cogent and clear ANTI responses in the mix. But here's where I think there's some misunderstanding.

You might not want to use datacommunications and utilities as an example, because those industries were NEVER government-owned and suffered MOST of their problems DUE to government regulation. Deregulation of utilities and telecom has done nothing but improve services. If rural areas can't get data, remember that our buddy Al Gore who invented the internet and his mentor Mr. Clinton, who imposed a tax on EVERYONE called the Universal Services charge to get EVERYONE connected to the data network must have failed in that Big Government game.

Anyway, my whole analysis of this is based on the idea that NOTHING that the NOAA/NWS provides to the public will change, as there is nothing in the legislation that indicates that it will, since provision 5(b)(2) gives wide latitude.

If the private sector can do some or all of the data collection, acquisition, observation, etc. and provide those data to the NWS/NOAA for a fee (that would presumably be less than what it costs the latter to collect it itself), then the NWS/NOAA is paying less for data it currently pays more for, and the products and services they offer will continue to be available at NO CHARGE to its audience.

The whole argument of "Them darned Republicans are trying to take away my free wolliwog and give that money to Senator Jones!!!" is just plain silly, overly emotional, and displays a lack of knowledge of how our economy functions. No, the Feds are trying to make it cheaper for them to make that free wolliwog.

Like it or not, the NWS/NOAA is spending lots of taxpayer money in these same states TODAY to get this data. They pay salaries, they built hugely expensive WSR Doppler radars (that come from private companies), have an incredibly expensive and outdated data transmission infrastructure (that are maintained by private companies), they have weather stations, etc. etc. Aside from salaries, All of that money STILL goes to private corporations, and thus still into the economy.

If, due to this legislation, more of that money goes to corporations, that money STILL goes into the economy! It's just different people's paychecks.

If the private sector cannot collect enough data to provide the NOAA/NWS with reliable product for the "Red Zones," then there is NOTHING in this bill that prevents them from maintaining their own resources there.

Another argument is being bandied about that says it's giving too much power to the Secretary of Commerce. The Secretary has these same powers today! There's no change in his/her responsibility proposed in this legislation.

MurphyPhillips,

Should complete privatization of data collection occur, you seem to be suggesting that NOAA and NWS are going to buy data from the private providers, and then turn around and disseminate this purchased data free of charge, so that we will be getting the same data that we do now. One problem with that...(b) forbids the dissemination of any information that could be provided by the private sector. NOAA and NWS would be forbidden from freely disseminating any data they buy, since the private sector will be engaged the activity of selling that same data.

I agree that NOAA is spending many tax dollars. But at least I have access to the valuable data collected with these tax dollars, for the cost of my Internet connection. Under this bill, once the data collection is privatized, my tax dollars will go to pay for data so that NOAA and NWS can perform (a)(1), and then if I want personal access to the data, I'll have to pay a private provider for it again.

If the Secretary of Commerce has these same powers and responsibilites today, then why do we need this bill?

Actually, your suggestion of the government setting up resources in rural areas not served properly by the private sector might be just the solution that the cellular phone industry needs. They certainly haven't been able to solve the problem on their own...
158. ma
Its amazing what a $5000 contribution to a politician can do...
The link to the blog disappeared from the frontpage. It was there this morning.. what happened.
I will keep watch on what JosephB and Murphy Phillips are saying. They seem to be the only ones that are not just jumping in with a I hate message.Lets get to the bottom of this instead always blaming the Republicans.
I will keep watch on what JosephB and Murphy Phillips are saying. They seem to be the only ones that are not just jumping in with a I hate message.Lets get to the bottom of this instead always blaming the Republicans.
Just a suggestion, please everyone read the very cogent posts made by duncanwx and MurphyPhillips.
It appears that there are some who appear to be not so much opposed to private involvement in weather, but have an anti-business agenda as the basis of their comments.
Before praising weather forecast and data distribution in foreign countries, please note that several of the socialist countries make people PAY for anu number of weather products. In other words, there is no such things as a FREE anything.
It looks like we all need to go back and review our high school social studies. While this bill (and yes, I've read it) does contain a potentially devastating clause -- after all, if Congress prohibits NWS from competing with the private sector, how long will it be before AccuWeather or the Weather Channel tries to force NWS out of the forecasting business -- it's a HUGE step from introducing a bill in committee to passing a law. This was "read twice and referred to committee". It may well die there (according to the Library of Congress, 70% of all bills do). It is not yet scheduled for consideration by the committee, and may never be. If considered, it needs the approval of a majority of the committee members present and voting (any of whom may propose amendments). If approved in committee, it goes to the full Senate, where the process is repeated. If it passes, it goes to the House, where the whole process is repeated. If approved there, any differences between the House and Senate versions are referred to a conference committee, where still more changes can be made. Only after the conference committee report is approved by both houses does the bill go to the President for signature. And all this has to happen during THIS session of Congress, otherwise it's back to square one for the poor little bill. No, chicken little, the sky is not falling. Senator Santorum has a LOT of work to do if he's going to make this one a law. While contacting your Senator can't hurt, it's a little premature to be mounting a major campaign to kill the bill. Our government was designed to keep special interests from easily passing legislation which favors them. A much better tactic at this point would be to let the democratic process work as it is meant to and keep an eye on it, just in case.
I have emailed my senator from FL, Senator Nelson as I see above that he is on the committee. I also signed the petition. I think this bill is utterly stupid. It raises serious safety issues with the American citzens. It also hurts me in my duties as a Miltary Weatherman. Even though we have DoD access to wx data, NWS data is relied on for references and back-ups.
I have emailed my senator from FL, Senator Nelson as I see above that he is on the committee. I also signed the petition. I think this bill is utterly stupid. It raises serious safety issues with the American citzens. It also hurts me in my duties as a Miltary Weatherman. Even though we have DoD access to wx data, NWS data is relied on for references and back-ups.
166. rcwx
The issue of who can do a better job, NWS or private sector goes back more than 30 years. It seems to me that if the NWS can be locked in to providing the products they were doing in Dec 2004 when they removed the non-compete people would be happy.

I guess one aspect that I am missing is that even this site generates cash off of the free NWS products. Shouldn't some of that revenue go back to the NWS?

I have nothing against the NWS but I do feel bad for all of the college grads who do not get jobs with NWS. According to this blog and other comments elsewhere regarding S786, college grads are complete morons unless they work for NWS because only NWS can forecast the weather correctly. Again, non-NWS meteorologists have been deemed incompetent for more than 30 years.
There must be a special unction of knowledge at NWS I am not aware of.

The only way for the NWS to fullfil its core mission and add products the private sector alread provides is to add staff - which is more tax money.

I can't wait until the IRS starts offering CPA services. I bet CPA's will raise a stink about that!!
167. Rama
Duncanwx, all that 2.c.1 of this bill does is say that products issued by the NWS and NOAA should be transmitted in a timely and fair manner. If that was all this bill said, then that's great. However, it does NOT say what products should be issued nor does it protect any products from being bared from being issued.

Again, the real crux of this bill is 2.b, which gives the Sec of Commerce (a politican) sole power to stop the NWS from issuing products.

As for private companies, I have no issue with them issuing their own forecasts nor with the training or expertise of their forecasters. As a matter of fact, my college roommate works for Accuweather. Experience from my college days when I was actually in a meteorology program tells me that you're more likely to get a better forecast if you concentrate on a small area and have experience with that area. The fact remains that the NWS, through their forecasters actually in local offices, is better equiped and better staffed to handle forecasts on a local level than any national weather company.
Since I live in Virginia, and our Sen. Allen is on the Commerce committee, I sent him this email:

Sen. Allen,

I am writing regarding S.786, "A bill to clarify the duties and responsibilities of the NOAA and the National Weather Service," which has recently been referred to the Commerce Committee. I am STRONGLY urging you to oppose this bill.

Sen. Santorum has introduced this bill in exchange for funding from AccuWeather, Inc. Its provision in Sec 2(b)is intended to prohibit the National Weather Service from issuing forecasts except in emergencies. This bill blatantly panders to AccuWeather at the cost of both US citizens and other companies in the US.

First, this bill would waste millions of taxpayer dollars by forcing the NWS to develop forecasts that they could not actually publish. The NWS would still be necessary for severe weather forecasts, other safety-related forecasts, and some aviation purposes, but in order to fulfill those duties they would be preparing forecasts that they would be prohibited from publishing.

AccuWeather has been around for decades competing with the NWS. There is no sign that they are going out of business anytime soon.

While prohibiting the NWS from issuing forecasts would doubtlessly improve AccuWeather's profits, it would damage countless other US companies that rely on the high quality, inexpensive NWS forecasts. Many TV stations and websites rely on NWS forecasts. I personally pay money to a website that uses them (wunderground.com), because I appreciate the quality of the forecasts and the interface. This bill is intended to drive these companies out of business, increasing consumer costs and eliminating the primary source of high quality, free forecasts.

Weather forecasting is a vital public service. It makes no more sense to force privatization of this than of airline security. I urge you to oppose this bill in the Commerce Committee.
rcwx, you make some excellent points.
There is a touch of elitism at NWS. I think they fear competition.
lowekarhp, the assertions you sent to Senator Allen could hardly be more inaccurate. Read the well researched posts in this blog from duncanwx and MurphyPhillips. They have both apparently read the bill. Have you?
It seems to me that AccuWeather and CWSA are the ones who fear competition. They are the ones trying to stifle the development of new products at NOAA and NWS.

We have a patent/copyright system in this country. If AccuWeather wants to cash in on meteorology, let them develop state-of-the-art products better than those offered by NWS, and let them apply for patents and copyrights to protect their inventions and intellectual property, just like the rest of us in the private sector have to do.

NOAA and NWS do not have unlimited budgets to pursue whatever whim comes along. They work under budget constraints. In fact, NOAA and NWS are often handicapped by political wrangling, so it seems to me that there is still plenty of opportunity for the private sector to develop products better than those offered for NWS.

It's not like the private sector was denied the opportunity to take the lead in meteorology and climatology. The private sector had the chance to lead in this field, and chose not to puruse it, so the Federal government stepped in and took the lead over 50 years ago to fill the void. As the saying goes, you snooze, you loose...

I work in a private company, and it rather boils my blood when I see private companies whine about competition against the government. My advice would be to stop whining and take a cue from those enterprising souls who take that competition as a challenge, and push the envelope to develop something better.
As an National Weather Service Employees Organization (NWSEO) steward, I can honestly say that Dr. Masters is 100% accurate and we appreciate Weather Underground's support of the NWS. We also appreciate the Weather Underground service. I use it and other private weather web sites,
myself, at home and work.

Anybody that has been intently following the relationship between a certain well-known weather company and the NWS, like I have for the last 15 years, would know that this company wants the NWS to stop issuing zone forecasts. The ones that are used to support smaller weather companies like Weather Underground. And by the way, my home page has 3 Weather Underground web helper links to three cities.

A bill similar to S786 was actually passed by the House in 1999, but failed in the Senate. The executive of this well-known company stated at a Congressional Hearing that by getting out of the general forecast business, the NWS could reduce its staff by 50%.

I'm not going to explain why that statement was ridiculous, since Dr. Masters already explained this.

Since 1991, the NWS had been working under a non-competition clause, but this was drawn up before the age of the Internet and this was not a US Government law. The NWS was working under the Organic Law of 1890 and still is today. This law allows the NWS to issue forecasts for the protection of lives and property, including general forecasts. With the ambiguously written S786, by specifically stating that only "severe weather forecasts and warnings" were exempt, it repeals the Organic Act of 1890 and opens the doors for an endless parade of lawsuits against the NWS. The NWS would have to prove in a court of law that every single product it issues or has issued was a severe weather product. Two years ago a commision was set up to study this competition theory. These people are very smart and were high level executives of major corporations. Their findings in the "Fair Weather Report" was why the NWS repealed its own 1991 rule in Dec 2004.

As a webmaster and a rain forecaster, this will be a nightmare. My rain forecasts are automatically posted to the web as well as automatically ingested into hydrologic models. If I draw a forecast map with 10 inches of rain it could be an argued severe weather product and would be of course useful in my briefing with emergency managers. But in other days when I issue a map with a quarter inch of rain, it would not be severe, or would it if flooding is already occurring. The NWS would likely play it safe by issuing nothing but raw data, warnings and severe weather statements.

One could argue that NOAA Weather Radio was competition with the private sector during times of sunny skies, mets answering newspaper reporters phone calls, mets briefing emergency managers, etc, etc, etc.

What a big fat nightmare for everybody.

It saddens me that a few people are trying to politicise this issue. Spin it etc. "NWS are just full of lazy gov't workers" "NWS workers are elitists" "Private companies would be run better." This is the biggest pile of BS. Most mets have been weather geeks since they were 8. We are meteorologist that just so happen to work for the governemt. It is their life. Goverment Executive Magazine gave the NWS stright A's. The only government agency in the federal government to get the perfect 4.0. President Bush has stated that he considered the NWS a model agency.

So, the majority on this blog have it right and are not crying wolf. Dr. Masters is right. This law would not only hurt the smaller weather companies while benefitting the few large ones, but it would be deadly.

I'll answer any questions. If you require proof of anything said above I'll send in a link to read for yourself.

I have written this on my own time, on my own key board, in my own home and using my own paid Internet provider. These are views of the NWSEO only, not that of the federal gov't, NOAA, or NWS. I was vague about comapny names and people to be protected from lawsuits.

Be careful with what you read. I saw that it was proven that people were writing into blogs with IP addresses coming from certain well known weather company computers.





174. w3mdc
I think I can sum it up in just one word:ASSININE!

Let me see if I understand how it all works.

Twice a day at 0Z and 12Z they fly the weather balloons. Then the data from these and other sources is put into the computer models. Then the models run and generate their output. Then the forecasters look at the output, compare it with their own opinion about what the weather will be (based on the same data) to make sure the models aren't blowing big chunks (such as convective feedback issues), make a judgement about which model to use or how to compromise between the different ones and then put together and issue the forecasts.

Now if all this is true (and I'm sure there's a lot I left out) then it would seem that the NWS would have to operate pretty much the same way, every day, whether there be fair weather or foul.

Unless of course they plan to close the local weather offices and concentrate all NWS activity at the NSSL. If they sold the WSR-88Ds to the private sector, they could theoretically downsize to only doing severe weather advisories. And it is a scary thought.

The problem with this is not that it wouldn't save money. Of course it would. But I'm not willing to get rid of the local forecasters that know their CWA. The computer models are very far from perfect, despite the prevailing opinion among policy makers who would like to use this misconception for their own ends.

Skilled humans are required in the forecasting loop to produce a usable forecast. The fact that this misconception exists is testamental not to the models, but to our local forecasters who interpret them. Downsizing and consolidating the NWS, the first step of which I fear is the real intent of the legislation under debate, would I think quickly create more confusion and unpredictibility than would be compensated for by anything the private sector could bring to the table.

Refer to these papers by retired meteorologist Chuck Doswell:
http://webserv.chatsystems.com/~doswell/forecasting/human_role/future_forecasters.html
http://www.cimms.ou.edu/~doswell/human/Human.html
http://www.cimms.ou.edu/~doswell/NWS_value/value2.html
Here are a couple good background articles:

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/content/news/epaper/2005/04/21/m1a_wx_0421.html

http://rawstory.com/exclusives/byrne/santorum_weather_ban_accuweather_421.htm

In cases like this, you can usually figure out who has the most to gain by following the money. In this case, the money seems to have flowed from Accuweather executives to the senator's coffers.
Here is another more conspiratorial take on this issue, inspired by the RAWSTORY article above, and with thanks to Jim Dantin.

Quoting from the article:
"The National Weather Service has not focused on what its core mission should be, which is protecting other people's lives and property," said Barry Myers, the Executive Vice President of AccuWeather...

As Jim said, we need to follow the money. But I would add that we should also follow the chain of lies and misinformation.

Barry stated very plainly above that the core mission of the NWS should be redefined to make room for his company. His choice of words would seem to be stating a preexisting fact, when in truth he is arguing for change, and I call that an act of deliberate misinformation.

The mission of the NWS is what it's always been. All we have to do to figure it out is take a look at how it's organized.

NWS is under NOAA. NOAA is under the Department of Commerce. The Department of Commerce is mainly concerned with protecting commercial interests, such as agriculture and aviation.

Note that the GFS numerical weather model used be called AVN, and was initially used for aviation forecasts to help protect commercial aviation, and of course it is in the commercial interest of the United States to do so. It's pretty good for tropical weather as well, and is used in part to help protect commercial shipping.

Agriculture used to be the backbone of our economy. Even in our modern indiustrial era we would be hard pressed to profit from workers who can't eat. So agricultural forecasts are also in the commercial interest.

Protecting lives and property are very important as well, even when looked at from a strictly commercial standpoint. Since 1933, our land and improvements thereon have been collateralized, and the Federal Reserve makes it possible for the government to borrow money against these assets. Further, I think it was in the late sixties, the Gross National Product metric was devised (since revised into the Gross Domestic Product) to calculate the monetary value of the production of American workers, and with this, credible estimates of future production can be made, creating another asset the government can borrow money against. So it is in the commercial interest of the United States to protect lives and property. So as far as I can tell, that's the core mission of NOAA and the NWS.

This is not to say that the NWS can't be reorganized under another department of government. If the core mission was changed to protecting solely lives and property, and not commerce, and given that the NOAA weather radio network has already been upgraded to an 'all-hazards' warning system, including terrorist attacks and hazmat events, there is no reason a mission-limited NOAA couldn't be re-orgged under the Department of Homeland Security.

Arguments could be made that this would actually be a good thing, though I remain against the retasking of the NWS.

Of course I have no direct information that's what's going to happen, but then I don't even know where the smoke-filled rooms are, much less what goes on in them. And perhaps speculation and conspiracy theories such as this are not the best use of blog space. But my gut tells me there's something going on beyond a simple plan to increase AccuWeather's profitability. The mechanics of dismantling the NWS have been talked about for at least ten years, so I don't think this is a random issue creeping up in a vacuum. I think they're looking for a way to begin the process, so they're testing the waters, and AccuWeather has agreed to be the lightning rod.

In my opinion the current version of the bill is weak, and will probably be dropped, even though we should go through the motions of opposing it (yes, I signed the petition). But we'll know when they're really ready to do it when they tack a revised and more comprehensive version of their evil plan on to a must-pass appropriations bill in the wee hours of the morning.
I fear this bill will make NCEP and NWS like the ECMWF (European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasting)

They don't issue short term weather forecasts, and they don't make their data publicly accessible. This bill is definitely a step in that direction. Try to search for ECMWF model data or forecasts? Try to find something for free as comprehensive as NCEP's site. Believe me... you won't.

As a student in the field and a forecaster myself, I think this bill will affect more than just NWS employees responsibilities. What about forecasting tools like MOS? NCEP model output ...NAM/GFS/SREF? Will those go offline too because they can be considerred in competition with private forecasts. I think the language of the bill is so vague, it might sweep up a lot of indirect forecasting tools available publicly today.

The private sector is a big part of meteorology now... there's no doubt it's the fastest growing sector. However, I don't think private companies are ready to be entrusted in handling the nation's forecasting.
Very few people appreciate the number of steps that goes into producing one forecast. Privatizing these steps would result in costing the government money to use each of these services in severe cases. The result won't be extra money in my pocket.

Besides, the weather forecasts are wrong nearly 90% of the time. I'd prefer to be provided incorrect forecasts from the government than having to pay extra for inaccurate, shoddy forecasts from TWC or AccuWeather. They all suck!
Hello all, I am Dan Sobien, Vice President of the National Weather Service Employees Organization I want to thank Dr. Masters for bringing this issue to the attention of you all. I am a long time user of the Weather Underground products and quite frankly would be lost without this page.

Most all that has been written in this blog is on the mark. I am particilarly impressed with the post that one of our stewards wrote. It is right on the mark. Kudos to you whoever you are and please contact me.

It is true that this bill would not stop the NWS from producing weather forecasts and warnings. Only from distributing them for free to the American taxpayers. Instead the forecasts would be issued only "through a set of data portals designed for volume access by commercial providers of products or services".

This bill would put an end to the National Weather Service web site and to NOAA Weather Radio at worst. At best this bill is so poorly written that no one knows what it would do.

What seems clear at least to me is that large weather distributor(s) are concerned that smaller firms are now able to get weather from the NWS over the internet for free, instead of paying them for it.

What does this mean for the NWSEO, perhaps 10 jobs are affected by this bill. It cost the NWS approximately one cent (thats right one cent) per American to make this weather data available on the web.

So why am I concerned, like our steward posted above I too was plotting hurricane charts and making my own forecasts when I was 8. If a bill like this was to pass and I was no longer able to create forecasts for boaters, farmers, gardeners etc and instead my work was only used as a pawn to put money in the hands of a couple greedy corporate owners looking for a monopoly, I think I would hang up my hat and look for a new career.

My opposition to this bill is for my own morale and the morale of the people I represent.

As a union representative, I do not have a whole lot of time to forecast porfessionally anymore. But as a weather geek, I still look at the models every morning and go to sites like Weather Underground to get their perspective. Yes I stll have a weather radio also, it came in very handy last hurricane season. If these web sites were no longer available, well I would miss them greatly. As a taxpayer, well quite frankly I would be pissed because I paid for that network of radars, those satellites, raob, models etc.

So if you oppose this bill, which I gather most on this blog do. You need to contact your Senators. This is important - DO NOT contact them by snail mail. Since the anthrax scare, they will not get it, email, fax or call. As a NWSEO official let me warn government employees, do not do this on government time or with government equipment and do not represent yourself as a government official but as a private citizen.

Somewhere in the blog above someone has posted the names and contact information of the important Senators. It is important that you contact your own state Senators but in addition to them contact Senator Santorum himself. This is important because I really do not think this bill has a very good chance passing on its merits, especially with all of you contacting your Senators. But, I fear it getting quietly attached to some other bill that is likely to pass. The Senator is in a close re-election battle and it is important for the him to realize there would be a price to pay for that. Please also contact Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, he is chairman of the subcommittee that will take up this bill. Senator Ted Stevens from Alaska, he is chaiman of the overall Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, the ranking minority member. Finally, please also contact Senator Bill Nelson of Florida and thank him for leading the charge against this bill. Senator Nelson's office has been the real hero in this fight so far.

If you are letting your voice be heard anyway, contact your local Congressman also. While this for now is just a Senate issue, House members and Senators do talk and you just don't know what influence you local Congressman might have. If you really feel strongly contact your local and state government also. Ask them to pass a resolution in opposition to this bill.

I want to thank each and every one of you all for your support and again thank Dr. Masters for allowing this forum. If we can keep this issue in the spotlight in the blogs and in the media and continue a grassroots effort we will kill this bill.

Thank You
Dan Sobien
NWSEO VP.

The same arguments against this bill are used in a different form when anyone discusses allowing competition in education. Despite obvious failure and horrible results, public schools plod on with their status quo protected by union bosses and union controlled politicians.
Dr. Masters:
Where do you get off saying the NWS forecasts are better then those of private companies. What documentation to you have to support that? Maybe you as a student and as an instructor weren't able to beat the NWS, but the same cannot be send for many in the private sector. Me, unlike yourself, can back in up. My company has over one hundred clients, including about a half dozen in Southeastern Michigan, Thousands and thousands more use other private weather services. So I ask you. If the NWS is better or even anywhere as good, why would people pay for a service they can otherwise get for free? That's all the proof I need! Maybe those clients have no use for a forecast that says, "there is a 50 percent chance of rain tonight."

OAKLAND-
INCLUDING THE CITY OF...PONTIAC
347 PM EDT FRI APR 29 2005

.TONIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY. A CHANCE OF LIGHT RAIN OVERNIGHT. LOWS
36 TO 40. NORTHEAST WINDS 5 TO 15 MPH. CHANCE OF RAIN 50 PERCENT.

Surely, a service who is "unmatched anywhere in the world" as you stated would be ashamed to put out a forecast like this. At my company, we are forbidden to use this percentage. Clients pay to know if it is going to rain to is it not going to rain.

I also am unaware where you receive your information that private companies "check" their forecasts against the NWS and "adjust" towards it. Our company, makes it own forecasts, thank you. If anything I will try to move away from the NWS forecast to show clients that they are getting what they pay for, not some company who is usually similar to the NWS. If anybody does look at the NWS forecast, it is probably due to a lack of time. Private companies have had to purposely take on bigger loads to make up for the cost that has been driven down by the free forecasts available. While many clients are willing to pay more for the better forecasts that the private sector provides, because of the free forecasts available there is a limit to what they will pay.
A couple of the previous posts are quite interesting...

billkodak appears to be trashing the NWS because they are somehow anti-competitive, even though in reality, it is AccuWeather and friends who seem to be afraid of competing with the NWS, and are thus trying to eliminate it.

On the other hand, vortex1 seems to be trashing the NWS because competition with NWS has driven prices down for his/her company's weather products.

So, is competition good or bad??? I happen to think it is good, and that's why NOAA and NWS should stay just as they are.

For vortex1, perhaps the reason people are only willing to pay a certain amount for your products is because they don't judge your product to be worth more money, relative to the "shameful" NWS products. Our economic system is nasty that way... So we should eliminate the NWS so that people are basically forced to buy your product, a product that they have judged to be not worth the money??? Give us a break!!! Like I said in a previous post, develop a state-of-the art product that is of value to the consuming public, patent/copyright it, and your revenue problems will take care of themselves.

I live and work in a big metropolitan area, while I grew up in rural America, and still have business interests there. I don't want to rehash what I've posted before, but I oppose this bill because based on my experiences, 1) this bill will likely end up costing consumers of weather data more than they will save in taxes, 2) this bill will benefit a few large companies at the expense of the general public, 3) this bill will be devastating to rural America, small businesses, and private individuals, and 4) it just simply isn't necessary.
Well what Mr. Santorum is OBVIOUSLY neglecting is the NWS is part of the federal mandated E.A.S. system. Part of the national, regional, local governments and local radio and television stations all over the USA. As a broadcast television engineer for 19 years, EAS is mandated by the F.C.C. The NWS is one of which is authorized to issue any local/regional watches/warnings to alert people to immediate danger. I'll let you bloggers alert this *diot* to this. He is breaking F.C.C. laws by doing this. I can go on for a long time. But, simply, this *ain't* gonna happen. One more clueless elected official. Go figure.
186. Ilgaz
I have let digiturk (www.digiturk.tv), my satellite digital tv platform to switch to another source from Accuweather.

I pay Accuweather already (part of money my subscription) for digital weather channel and I don'T like my money used in dark stuff like that.

Sent pgp signed mail to Accuweather too.

I simply don't care about weather.com
187. Ilgaz
Oh, correction: "I told", not "I let".

Well, as they are a really responsive company, they will at least review it.

btw, sales@accuweather has been replaced by resume@accuweather , when you click the link , it sends mail to there.

Wonder why? ;)

I could do a lot more if I wasn't a foreigner. Its your money, really don't sit silent.
Vortex1 wrote:
"Surely, a service who is "unmatched anywhere in the world" as you stated would be ashamed to put out a forecast like this. At my company, we are forbidden to use this percentage. Clients pay to know if it is going to rain to is it not going to rain"


So I guess basically your forecasts say a fifty-fifty chance of rain everyday. If your company is so good as to pinpoint to the square meter where is or isn't going to rain you guys are amazing. (Yes I know you didn't say those words in your post) but you implied it. If your clients can get a forecast thats says yes or not with a 90 or higher percentage of accuracy you must be able to pinpoint where it is going to rain. 'cause here in Atlanta it may rain down the road a mile or so away and my location never get a drop. Or I may get a half inch of rain at my location and I can drive 3 miles down the road and it will be dry as a bone.

So, can you tell me if it is going to rain tomorrow on my picnic at my house. All I need is a yes or no.
The point I was really trying to make, and it wasn't pro or con for the bill, was Dr. Masters statement that the NWS meteorologists were umatched in the world, thus so much better then those in the private sector. I take a great deal of pride in my work and my coworkers work very hard at doing a great job at a fraction of the pay the NWS guys get and I got carried a way a bit in my resonse. As a side note, since the post, Dr. Masters and myself have had exchanged e-mails a few times and I think he now understands where I am coming from. He was very cordial and willing to listen and I enjoyed our communications. Joseph B, yes competition is great. I don't know what line of business you are in, but try competing against someone offering the same product who is giving it away for free. Your product doesn't just have to be a little better, he has to be a great deal better. A free product is not fair competition. Powder, the point is when a client calls, they don't pay money to hear that it is a 50-50 chance it may or may not rain. They want to hear either it will (60% or better) or it won't (40% or less). Then they make their decision. Hopefully you get it right enough times, so that when you do miss, the client, who understands the inexact science that it is, still has confidence is your predictions and ability. Nobody is going to pay to hear its a 50-50 chance. And as for as your picnic goes, it depends whether you let me come or not:).
I would think that the Weather Underground would support this. Does it say anywhere that the technical products issued by the NCEP and the MOS forecast's would no longer be available? I think not. Therefore it would provide the oportunity for a plethora of new ideas and start-up companies. I think the WU has their head in the sand on this. Why is it that we think the government can always do it better? The NWS is slow and out of touch often. I look at this as an oportunity. The WU should too.
191. eggo4
True, a free product is not fair competition. But the quality of the NWS product is a known and valued entity. If I had to pay for a service, I'd rather pay the NWS for their product. I haven't been near pleased with what I've seen from other services. What I want to know is: Is it is or is it ain't gonna rain within a 100 nm radius of my locoation 10 days from now; what are both the horizontal and vertical winds going to be (direction and velocity) and what the pressure differential will be over the course of a given radial -- all at various altitudes. I also need the probabilities of icing at various levels and varying locations within that area and at what time of day. NWS gives me that and only request comments of my observations in return
192. Ilgaz


There, all comments verified by that article!. Also, if Wunderground admin is reading all of this, please spare your time to block certain netblocks from reaching this page.

You know what I mean ;)
193. Ilgaz
http://wwwa.accuweather.com/promotion.asp?dir=aw&page=wxinfoaccess
I suppose it was just an oversight that the AccuWeather web page article neglected to mention that the legislation also covers the "sensing", or acquisition of data, such that it would be illegal for NOAA and NWS to collect data and distribute data if someone in the private sector was also collecting and distributing data. Kind of hard to release data in real time if you don't have any data to release...
195. TomP
There's another discussion of this going on over at the WeatherMatrix site, which of course is run by Jesse Ferrell, an AccuWeather employee. It's not shocking that he's also supporting the bill.

http://www.weathermatrix.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=1426

I just left my own comments over there.
196. TomP
There's another discussion of this going on over at the WeatherMatrix site, which of course is run by Jesse Ferrell, an AccuWeather employee. It's not shocking that he's also supporting the bill.

http://www.weathermatrix.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=1426

I just left my own comments over there.
197. TomP
vortex1,

If you can't state what weather company you work for, then I think it's rather disingenuous of you to start comparing its performance to that of the NWS. Fess up, and let people verify your claim.

Frankly, however, your slam on that NWS forecast already removed any respect I might have given your statements by default. Apparently, you think that it's not possible that the probability of rain at some location could actually be 50%. You apparently differ, but I sure wouldn't be proud of working for a company that modified its forecasts in order to give the illusion that they're more meaningful than they actually are.
I really don't know why you folks are so upset. Clearly, based on the rabid oppposition seen here and elsewhere, there is little support, even within the private meteorological community, for this bill. I think the bill needs to be tweaked and better defined. But even if the bill passed I doubt it would end all NWS forecasting. Clearly, if you read the bill, it is very open to modification and input. A lot of you just sound paranoid. (Probably fell for the "Email's no longer going to be free hoax" a few years back.)

But, admittedly I have reservations about it myself. It seems that there are much more pressing problems than messing with our weather services, which are the best in the world. This and some other recent things would indicate to me that Senator Santorum is in the autumn of his career.
TomP, thanks for pointing out the weathermatrix forum. I left my opinion there as well.

Jaybolinn, the good Senator Santorum's party is currently in control of the Legistlative and Executive branches of government, which makes passage of this bill a distinct possibility, even if it is flawed and poorly written.

Vortex1, help me to understand...was your company selling a product that the NWS recently started offering for free? I can see that as being unfair to your company.

However, if your company decided to offer a commercial version of some product that the NWS was already offering for free, and you have difficulty selling it, well, I'm sorry for your difficulty, but that's the way the economy works. Nobody forced your company to develop a prodcut to compete against something that was being offered for free.

And yes, I know very well what it is like to compete against a product that is less expensive...
It was me Dan the VP, Jack from Atlanta. I've been scouring the blogs (I've read thousands) looking for anyone that supports the bill and found that 99% don't support it. If they do, they either have no idea what the NWS actually does or they are tied to a certain company.

Here it is Sunday (I'm off, today) and I'm trying to support my NWS.

On May 16th, I'll be going to the Florida Department of Emergency Management (FDEM) to work with the state meteorologist in their annual week long hurricane exercise. We're going to simulate the 1950 year when two very wet systems hit Florida with massive flooding. That was the year that broke the Florida State record for most rain in a 24 hour period. In our test we'll have a major river go to record flood causing I-75 to shutdown in the first hurricane then have the second one come in shortly thereafter. That ought to get the EMs in a tizy. It should be fun to watch them try to deal with this evacuation disaster. I'll be supporting them with web graphics on rain observations and forecast as well as river hydrographs. (All pretend of course)

It would be a shame if they lose these great briefing tools, I will provide via the Internet when I support this state agency. I hope this support I give them can't be argued in a court of law if S786 passes.

Also I want to thank the people on this blog for their support. It really motivates me to do a gread job at work when I see this kind of enthusiasm for the NWS and encouragement from our customers.

Thanks
Jack

Joseph: Many of our snow plow clients get paid by the inch of snow. But there aren't enough snow accumulation reports to cover all locations, so what we did was develop an accumulation map using contours to estimate how much snow has fallen in one place. So what did the NWS do, they put out a similar map on their website. So it's kind of like stick to forecasting and not offer the other products that private companies can do. If they want to offer forecasts I have no problem with that, it is a challenge to me to put out a better forecast and beat them. But when they start offering other products that goes beyond forecasting and collecting and disseminating observations, that's where I have a problem. I am not talking about competing against a product that is less expensive, I am talking about competing against one that is free. Somebody is getting taxpayer money to put out that product when that money can be used for research or perhaps developing an ASOS station that doesn't report .01 in an hour when there isn't any rain for hundreds of miles. I think you get my point. It is also hard for me to believe that people are for the NWS as much as they are against Accu-Weather. And rightfully so, their ethics have always been questionable in this field.
203. Ocala
Vortex1, I can certainly understand your position in reguard to The NWS issuing these products for free. But the fact remains that long before Accuweather, WSI, Weather.com etc were in bussiness, The NWS was already there. These companies knew going in that they were in competition with a tax payer funded service that distributed these products for free. The only thing they had going for them was that they held the contract to distribute the Nexrad radar data. Now that this contract has expired and this data is available for free, they are feeling the pinch. The Nexrad radar data was a gold mine for these companies because they could chage for it. Now the only thing they can provide are forecasts, which the NWS allready does. Back to my original point. They knew going in what the stakes were. Just my 2 cents.
204. Ocala
Vortex1, I can certainly understand your position in reguard to The NWS issuing these products for free. But the fact remains that long before Accuweather, WSI, Weather.com etc were in bussiness, The NWS was already there. These companies knew going in that they were in competition with a tax payer funded service that distributed these products for free. The only thing they had going for them was that they held the contract to distribute the Nexrad radar data. Now that this contract has expired and this data is available for free, they are feeling the pinch. The Nexrad radar data was a gold mine for these companies because they could chage for it. Now the only thing they can provide are forecasts, which the NWS allready does. Back to my original point. They knew going in what the stakes were. Just my 2 cents.
Well again, I have nothing against the NWS putting out weather forecasts. I welcome the challenge. I am talking about other products they have been doing, such as graphics, etc. Things that began with private companies, such as the item listed in my previous post.
I am still perplexed about why a private company should want to restrice the NWS so that they in turn can generate income.
I've already paid for that information; a private company would need to present it in a much better format for me to want to pay for it.
That all seems totally appropriate. To restrict the NWS so that some private enterprise would be able to charge for that information is not just asking me to pay twice; it's like asking me to pay a toll to use a public road just to inhance the income of the toll booth maker.
How silly!!!
I have several points to make in regard to Senator Santorum's proposed bill to limit the services of the NWS. First off, his argument that privatizing many of the services which are currently provided by the NWS will save the tax payers money is complete hogwash. Having been a government employee for over 20 years now, I've had a lot of first hand experience with privatization. This is how it works. When the government decides to contract out a service, they always award the contract to the lowest bidder. Knowing this, contractors purposely lowball their bid to ensure they get the contract. Once the service is underway, the contractor begins a series of budget increases and deadline extentions throughout the course of the contract. When all is said and done, the service/project could've been accomplished in a more timely manner, the job would've been done better, and at a lower cost to tax payers if it would've been accomplished by federal employees, even when taking into consideration the wages and benefits of the those federal employees. There is also no accountability when these services are contracted out.

The next issue I have with this proposed bill is the Senator's claim that the NWS should not be allowed duplicate services that can be provided by the private sector. Whose duplicating who? The NWS was around long before any of these private companies came along, so it seems to me they are duplicating services the NWS has been doing for years. And since when should government agencies that have been providing the tax payers with valuable and accurate services for decades have to downsize in order to allow private companies to flurish?

The third problem I have with this bill is anytime a profit driven organization is in charge of providing the general public information that could mean the difference between life and death, people are going to die. The first sign that it isn't profitable to provide a certain type of service, or to provide service in any given area, the company will reduce or eliminate the service. That's just the nature of a profit driven business and this is why privatizing the weather service won't work.

There's nothing wrong with the system the way it is now. Why fix what ain't broke? My guess is the Senator already knows this, but his bank account is probably being padded by these private weather service companies. Hopefully, the people this bill is being presented to are smart enough to realize just how idiotic it is and they throw it out the door along with the Senator!
Grampi problem number 1: I don't know who does that, but we never have. Infact on the contrary, on our government bids, the government is so slow in awarding the bid, by the time they do we are scrambling like crazy to be able to start on time.
Grampi problem number 2:The NWS is dupicating services. Read my earlier post. We developed a graphical snowfall map and then the NWS duplicated it. Remember, I was not talking about forecasting. That's not the problem.
Grampi problem number 3: The NWS will still be in charge of life or property threatening weather. They will still be issuing warnings, watches, etc. I suggest you read the bill.
Friends

While I am heartened to see people aware of the political process, and how it relates to weather observation and reporting, I have some friendly advice:

Chill out! This hysteria will NOT help the situation.

The legislation sent to the Senate floor by Mr. Santorum will NOT destroy the NWS, but PERHAPS could limit some of its important duties. The NOAA web pages and possibly some other functions led by local WSFOs and specialized branches may be impacted.

There are two major issues with this bill that need to be addressed. One is the obtuse wording; just what is the Senator trying to say? The second is, there are OTHER PRIVATE WEATHER SERVICES besides Accu-Weather, and they need some legal help to sustain themselves. I firmly believe that we need to see more non-NOAA participation in fields such as severe weather and hurricane/tropical forecasting, but the current structure of data flow limits the non-NWS meteorologist in those pursuits.

The bill needs to be rewritten, plain and simple. But do not be fooled by comments saying that NWS or NOAA agencies are far better than their privately run counterparts. There is no proof of such a statement, and someday firms may be able to prove their skills in some of the toughest corners of weather prediction. IF they get the chance.

Best Regards,
Larry Cosgrove
Vortex1

I saw the lowballing personally all the time. Most government contractors are ripoff artists.

If the NWS is duplicating a service that was developed by the private sector, then the bill should only forbid the NWS to duplicate only that service. It shouldn't have all functions except for severe weather services stripped away.

Once again, federal agencies should not be subjected to downsizing and the possibility of thousands of their employees losing their jobs simply to create a greater chance of success for private firms. It's not the inharent duty of civil servants to give up their jobs to create private jobs.
I'm starting a new company aimed at taking over the functions of the senators and congressmen. Their only functions will be to make national security decisions during wartime. Anyone interested in joining my company?
212. jodec
I think it is a stupid idea to not allow the NWS to continue its great job for weather forecasts and all other products. I am only a weather hobbiest, but frequently access the NWS website for updates. We do have the weather channel here, but I also like to zero into my local Forecast Zone (CTZ008) -- Northern New London County in Connecticut.

I have on 2 occasions submitted storm reports to the NWS Forecast Office in Upton NY. I use this Site to determine whether to cancel events or keep them scheduled when snow storms are on the way.

Interestingly, I have actually had the experience of watching local weather stations (Hartford and New Haven) sometimes forecast certain conditions, yet when I check with the NWS website for my zone, find a different forecast. This has not happened too much, but it has happened. In addition, the NWS updates if local zone forecasts several times per day but I may only watch TV stations' weather at 5pm or perhaps 11pm.. and they tend to focus on Hartford or New Haven and not always mention my town. I can get this detailed forcast for my town by entering the zip code at the NWS Website.

Can you imagine the chaos that can occur is suddenly a Corporate Forecast calls for snow accumulating between 1 and 3 inches, then all of a sudden the storm intensifies into a blizzard ?? Nice.. real nice.

Seems like Lawsuits for Weather Forecasting Malpractice ??? may run rampant in the future. After all, private companies -- no... better yet.. Monopolies have lots of $$$$.... Remember Microsoft?

I say let the NWS continue to do the fantastic job that they have been doing right along, and continue to improve as they have been.

Good luck NWS... You certainly have my support.

Joe D.
I am a small, independant residential construction contractor. I pour concrete sidewalks, driveways and patios.

This bill could hurt my business if I could not get accurate weather forecasts, or if I had to pay for the information.

I use WeatherUnderground to view radar and to get temperature and humidity forecasts.

I can modify my concrete mix to fit the weather conditions and give my customers a better quality product which will last longer.

I am not a meteorologist, but weather is very important to me.
Jim- Does the government give you cement for free or do you have to go out and buy it? Same thing with weather, they shouldn't be giving that away either. On another note, let's suppose the government poured concrete sidewalks, driveways and patios. Now you wouldn't be in business very long would you. Even if you did it better, it wouldn't be so easy getting people to pay for something they can get for free even if its someone lesser quality, would it?
I, as well think that this bill is the craziest thing I have ever heard! When I was younger, I used to soley rely on TWC, however, when I discovered the NWS, it has been them I trust ever since! They take their forecast down to the heart of every city, and that makes a big difference over other weather companies! I highly doubt this bill will get put into law... I really do.

Mike
Owner
I, as well think that this bill is the craziest thing I have ever heard! When I was younger, I used to soley rely on TWC, however, when I discovered the NWS, it has been them I trust ever since! They take their forecast down to the heart of every city, and that makes a big difference over other weather companies! I highly doubt this bill will get put into law... I really do.

Mike
Quoting 180. dprobins:
Very few people appreciate the number of steps that goes into producing one forecast. Privatizing these steps would result in costing the government money to use each of these services in severe cases. The result won't be extra money in my pocket.

Besides, the weather forecasts are wrong nearly 90% of the time. I'd prefer to be provided incorrect forecasts from the government than having to pay extra for inaccurate, shoddy forecasts from TWC or AccuWeather. They all suck!

But you are paying the government to provide inaccurate forecasts from the NWS. It's called taxes.