Thursday, December 27, 2018

Shutdown Insanity

Anyone who works in the weather business knows just how critical government weather services are for the protection of life and property.

As I write this, we are now in day 5 of the government shutdown, which now looks to last into the beginning of 2019.  To illustrate the challenges ahead for public servants, here's a tweet issued by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management this morning.

Despite the financial pressures of not knowing when they will receive their next paycheck, National Weather Service meteorologists continue to work through and provide critical forecast services.  You won't notice much of a change in their products, just some reductions in social media outreach and the like.  However, if you use other NOAA services, you might just be completely out of luck.  For example, go to the web site of the National Centers for Environmental Information, a critical provider of climate data for the nation, and you'll find this.

Need some of their climate data for forensic work, an algorithm for providing weather products to agricultural customers, or maybe your thesis?  Good luck with that.

The annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society begins on the 6th of January.  This is the largest meeting of meteorologists in the United States (probably the world) with attendees including academic, private sector, and government meteorologists.  Many of the latter may not be able to attend, which will put a serious damper on the meeting since some of the best weather and climate scientists in the world are in government positions.  Admittedly this is trivial stuff compared to the financial pressures that individuals are facing without a paycheck, but it is a real drag on the future weather and climate capabilities of the nation. 

There is also the long-term impact of these now frequent shutdowns on recruiting high-quality scientists into government service.  We need scientists to follow such a path to ensure we have the best numerical weather prediction systems, radar and satellite capabilities, and ultimately forecasts.  Beyond the weather, do we want to settle for mediocrity when it comes to the people who secure our nation's nuclear arsenal and lead cyberdefense and counter terrorism efforts?

Heartfelt gratitude to everyone in the National Weather Service and at other government agencies working through the holiday period during this shutdown.

Update @4:42 PM

Tweets from the American Meteorological Society shortly after I finished this post.

1 comment:

  1. I am retired NWS, went through a few of these, they're not pleasant. BTW, I found you only recently; I'm a graduate of the U, MS Met 1977, so I appreciate being able to stay in touch. (My work was cloud seeding throughout the state.)