Budget cuts set to take effect on March 1 could seriously compromise the ability of the National Weather Service to provide timely, reliable weather forecasts government officials and industry leaders warn. Programs and staffing to support weather forecasting are set to be slashed.
An 8.2 percent across-the-board cut in spending, from the so-called sequester, will trim already financially-depleted programs critical for maintaining and improving the NWS’ weather capabilities.
“It’s not going to be pretty,” said outgoing National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Jane Lubchenco at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (according to Climate Central). “The sequester has the potential to wreak havoc with so many different things...”
The cuts loom large following a two-year onslaught of extreme weather, including Superstorm Sandy and continuing historic drought conditions in the Heartland. In 2011 and 2012, the U.S. experienced the most and second most number of billion dollar weather disasters on record.
Kevin Kelly, a lobbyist at Van Scoyoc Associates, who advocates for the weather enterprise told The Washington Post “This is a classic penny wise, pound foolish approach to deficit reduction that places lives and property in all parts of the country at greater risk."