In the face of record extreme-weather disasters, President Obama has presented to Congress his demands for budget cuts in the staffing and scientific tools for guarding the country and protecting life.
Last year was America's fourth-most-deadly tornado season, with 1,700 twisters and 550 deaths, the largest tornado death toll in 75 years. Floods devastated the Midwest and other areas, forcing mass evacuations.
But the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Budget Estimates for fiscal year 2013, submitted under Obama's orders, reduces the nation's ability to cope with this ramped-up extreme weather, and includes these program cuts.
Wind Profiler Network: — savings $4.1 million. Elimination of the 32 vertical-looking radars that track upper air wind profiles that detect potential development of severe weather in the continental U.S.
The wind profilers' data lead to improved forecasts of tornados and winter storms, and provide aviation advisories and wildfire protections, improve probability of detection, decrease false alarms and improve time for warnings of tornados, severe thunderstorms, flash floods, and winter storms. Thirty of the 32 wind profilers that will be shut down are located in the central U.S. along Tornado Alley.
Obama's sorry pretext: the Profiler system communicates on a frequency that will be disrupted by a particular satellite, and to save the cost of converting their communications, the system will be shut down! A knowledgeable observer characterizes this pretext as "a ruse, sophism, a red-herring, arrogance, meanness, and a disregard for the general welfare of the population."
Coastal Weather Data Buoys: — savings $2 million in funding for buoy sustainment.
Tsunami Warning Program: — savings $4.6 million. Terminate grant funding for education and awareness programs; reduce maintenance of the DART buoy network.
As a result, the cumulative number of communities that NOAA designates as adequately prepared for a tsunami will be reduced from 140 to 115.
National Mesonet Network: — savings $11 million. Cuts the automated weather observation stations that are spaced closer together and report more frequently than the National Weather Service's synoptic scale observing network.
Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service: — savings $2 million, or 24% of overall total for forecasting how high rivers will rise, when the river will reach its peak, where property will be flooded, how long flooding will continue and how long a drought will last. Helps local officials decide about water allocation and where to evacuate people, how to use reservoir storage capacity and release to reduce flood impacts on people and businesses, and when to reinforce levees and at what level, to help reduce damage to areas nearby.
Weather Forecast Office (WFO) Maintenance: — savings $800,000. As WFOs continue to age, the cuts will reduce their efforts to address backlogged repairs.
Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project: — savings about $2.5 million. Cuts will impede efforts to improve hurricane track and intensity forecast error, increasing error rates for hurricane track and intensity forecasts. Research and Development Supercomputer capacity supporting hurricane track and intensity forecast improvements will be cut by 50%.
Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System Tech Infusion: — savings $3.5 million, to slow implementation of new capabilities for decision-support services and improved data delivery. This cuts in half the needed new tools to sustain operations and process data for better forecasts and warnings.
Elimination of the Information Technology Officers at each of the 122 forecast offices — savings $9.7 million.