The sequestration is here, and it’s real. It’s a set of across the board cuts so damaging, it would force Democrats and Republicans to reach a compromise on the federal budget. But that didn’t happen. Now tens of billions of dollars are being slashed this year. The National Weather Service is a federal agency and will feed the effects of these cuts.
The NWS tells Bloomberg it is considering hiring freezes and cutting back on the number of balloon launches. While weather balloons sound low-tech and dated, they are still a vital tool in getting real-time information on the atmosphere. This is especially crucial during severe weather season, when atmospheric readings can help determine the risk of strong storm development over a given area.
To make matters worse, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, could face a serious forecasting dilemma soon. The agency was already warning it needed funding from Congress to replace an aging fleet of weather satellites. Without new funding, there could be a coverage gap in our weather monitoring network by the end of 2016.
The American Meteorological Society calls these developments “particularly disturbing,” because they could hurt detection and prediction of sometimes deadly weather events. Not only would this all have impacts on the National Weather Service, but everyone that uses their products. That includes the media, storm chasers and even the public.
Regardless of political difference, it’s safe to assume that no one could argue against the value of weather detection instruments, research and staff. There are countless examples of how the political divide in Washington, DC is about to have real world consequences. We thought we should bring this particular one to your attention.