Free the weather, my ass!
Argh! I haven’t gotten too exercised about Senator Rick Santorum’s bill to limit NOAA’s distribution of weather forecasts because I thought it simply too ridiculous to pass, but yesterday I came across this steaming pile of pure double speak. “Free the Weather” is a disinformation campaign run by CWSA—a trade association for the commercial weather industry—meant to support Santorum’s bill. The big lie is that NOAA’s National Weather Service is currently not required to dispense weather to the public, and has sometimes been tardy. That’s like arguing that your local fire department is not legally obliged to fight fires. So what?…that’s what they do. In fact NOAA does an amazing job of distributing data and forecasts both to the public and all the commercial interests that want to add value to it. And never mind that Santorum’s bill restricts distribution to “a set of data portals designed for volume access by commercial providers.” Check out FreeTheWeather.org and see if it makes any sense to you. (For instance, they post an interesting series from the Miami Herald about frustrations at the Hurricane Center, but does they support the Santorum bill at all?) You might get mad, and you might want to contact your Senators and ask them to free S. 786 from its misery.
PS One of the neat things NOAA does, I think, is to give the public access to the hurricane forecaster’s discussion notes. It’s geeky stuff, but today you can learn that some of the computer models of wicked Wilma have her coming closer to New England than the current 5 prediction track shows. Damn!
Santorum represents the competitor to the National Weather Service so it’s no surprise he wants to do anything possible to screw the NWS.