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  1. #1
    Forum Member Dave1983's Avatar
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    Thumbs down NHC Funding Problems

    You would think the National Hurricane Center would be more of a priority for our government. Wouldnt you???



    Equipment woes vex trackers

    Behind the scenes, National Hurricane Center forecasters faced another round of equipment problems as they plotted where and when Hurricane Wilma would strike.



    As Hurricane Wilma last week grew into the most intense storm ever recorded in the Atlantic basin, National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield slipped away from the bustle on the forecasting floor to make an urgent request.

    While his forecasters worked to predict where Wilma would strike, key countries in the Caribbean weren't launching weather balloons regularly -- or at all -- denying the hurricane center essential information about the atmosphere.

    So Mayfield called the meteorological services in Belize, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. His request: Send up the balloons. Forecasters needed them.

    With two high-pressure systems competing to push Wilma in different directions, the weather balloons could have given forecasters more insight about the hurricane's turn, timing and course toward Florida.

    Problem was, the countries had been waiting for balloons and launching equipment from the U.S. government, which signed a bilateral agreement years ago designed to help protect those countries and to give the United States an early warning for hurricanes in the Caribbean.

    ''I wasn't sure what the holdup was,'' Mayfield said. ``The [launches] were noticeably absent here, from all over.''

    The lack of balloon launches wasn't the only problem forecasters faced as they struggled to get a fix on one of the most perplexing hurricanes of the season: The satellite communication system malfunctioned aboard a U.S. turboprop hurricane hunter plane Thursday as Wilma drifted toward the Yucatán, denying forecasters a steady stream of data.

    Full Story:http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/12979772.htm
    Last edited by Dave1983; 10-24-2005 at 08:41 PM.
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  2. #2
    Forum Member Dave1983's Avatar
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    Here is a link to a full series done by the Miami Herald. VERY interesting.

    Its called "A Blind Eye". This is the link to part #1. Follow the links for the whole series...


    http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/12853399.htm
    Fire Marshal/Safety Officer

    IAAI-NFPA-IAFC/VCOS-Retired IAFF

    "No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government"
    RUSH-Tom Sawyer

    Success is when skill meets opportunity
    Failure is when fantasy meets reality

  3. #3
    Forum Member DaSharkie's Avatar
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    Do you mean to tell me that the $400 million spent on the "Bridge to nowhere" in Alaska would have been better spent on this?

    Necessary spending in budgets get cut for pork. Nice to see that things don't change.
    "Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." Will Rogers

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  4. #4
    FIREMAN 1st GRADE E40FDNYL35's Avatar
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    Meteorologists say hurricane research budget too small

    9/29/2005 MIAMI — Hurricanes are barreling across the Atlantic Ocean with greater frequency, a trend expected to continue for at least the next decade. But some meteorologists worry that federal spending on storm research is not keeping up.
    The federal Hurricane Research Division has a staff of about 30 scientists, down from about 50 in the 1980s. It has an annual budget of $5.1 million, a nearly 60% increase since 1998. But some researchers say they need more money — perhaps a budget of $10 million — to hire more staff and modernize equipment.

    "We aren't talking about a whole lot of money," said Hugh Willoughby, a researcher at the division from 1975 to 1996 and its director from 1996 to 2002.

    The division's work helps meteorologists at the National Hurricane Center forecast a storm's track and intensity. Residents and local officials in hurricane-prone areas rely on these forecasts to make preparations that could minimize destruction and save lives.

    The research division is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which decides how much money it gets from NOAA's budget.

    NOAA's budget director, Steve Gallagher, denied that the research division is underfunded. He said that funding is reviewed every year but that the agency will take a harder look at research spending because of Hurricane Katrina.

    "We have to make priorities in tight fiscal times. And so you're not going to see quantum leaps forward and big huge increases in any program," he said.

    He also pointed out that the federal government is not alone in doing hurricane research. Universities and private companies are also making important advances.

    NOAA's budget grew to an estimated $3.83 billion this year from $3.44 billion in 2004. The agency's budget is supposed to drop to an estimated $3.78 billion next year, but Gallagher said the research division should not see any cuts.

    An increase in the research division budget would allow the hiring of more workers to analyze the mountains of data gathered by aircraft that fly through hurricanes and to improve computer models that predict hurricane movement and strength, said Michael Black, a meteorologist and union steward at the division who has pushed for extra funding.

    A bigger budget would also provide money to replace aging radar and hurricane hunter planes, some of which were built in the 1970s and '80s, he said.

    "It sickens me to see a disaster like this, a Katrina, to bring the attention to the hurricane problem," he said.

    The Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, has been above average each year since 1995, and forecasters say the increased activity could last at least another decade. There were 15 named storms last year, and there have been 17 so far this year. With two months to go in the season, the total could surpass the record of 21 tropical storms and hurricanes in 1933. Typically, there are about 10 named storms a season.

    Black said the additional hurricane investment would quickly pay for itself. He said more accurate forecasts could narrow the areas that are put under hurricane warnings when a storm approaches. Those warnings usually lead local officials to order evacuations, which cost an estimated $1 million for each mile of coast.
    "If that could be reduced, you're talking about tremendous economic savings," he said.
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