WASHINGTON, Oct. 21, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Instead of filling more than 600 vacancies, the National Weather Service plans to eliminate the work of local forecasters and distribute forecasts produced by a Washington D.C. Center. Local forecasts will give way automated forecasts based largely on computer models. The plan will lead to a degradation of service with local weather forecast office hours reduced from the current 24/7/365 schedule to part-time and in some cases, possibly seasonal operations.
Each geographic region has its own unique weather patterns. Local forecasters understand these patterns and apply this knowledge to the computer models. Their intimate knowledge of these weather patterns, the geographic region, the flood prone areas, and the demographics of people whose lives they protect are critical to their lifesaving work.
The NWS's new plans would change the role of the local meteorologist from using their expertise to a "weather briefer" who is no longer responsible for the forecast, but instead disseminates information from the Washington Center. The plan also mentions the use of flexible staffing that could include migrant meteorologists who travel to locations based on severe weather needs; a position that negates the value of local expertise.
Forecasters would be routinely placed in a compromising position of having to choose between a briefing based on an official/centralized forecast with which they disagreed, or briefing based on their own judgment informed by extensive local knowledge. It is the National Weather Service Employees Organization's stand that the ownership of the forecast must be at the final point of delivery.
"When severe weather hits your area, do you want the information coming from someone who lives and works in the community, who works with this data everyday – or would you want your information from a Washington D.C. bureaucracy?" asked NWSEO President Dan Sobien.
NWSEO's vision stresses that the NWS must provide accurate, timely, and locally-focused weather forecasts and warnings at the current high level. Weather experts agree that ownership of the forecast must be at the final point of delivery. The NWS's new ideas are a far contrast from the NWS Modernization in 2000 which stressed the work of local forecasters; against the National Academy of Public Administration's recommendations to Congress in 2013, and conflict with the research from the 2012 National Research Council's report.
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SOURCE National Weather Service Employees Organization