The main U.S. weather forecasting model, which has fallen behind the European model in its accuracy, has been called a “national embarrassment.”
In an inexplicable budget proposal that has floored the weather community, the Trump administration aims to reduce investments in programs that would improve this model and many others aspects of the nation’s weather forecasting.
Released Tuesday, the proposal slashes funding at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the parent agency of the National Weather Service, by 16 percent.
The proposal not only reduces investments in weather forecasting technology but also cuts programs that would enhance understanding of phenomena, such as El Nino, hurricanes and tornadoes. NOAA’s weather satellite programs would see reductions in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
“This budget would ensure that NOAA-NWS becomes a second- or third-tier weather forecasting enterprise, frozen in the early 2000s,” said David Titley, who served as chief operating officer for NOAA from 2012 to 2013.
The cuts “would have serious repercussions for the U.S. economy and national security, and for the ability to protect life and property,” said Antonio Busalacchi, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. “Such funding cuts would be especially unfortunate at a time when the nation is moving to regain its position as the world leader in weather forecasting.”
The budget “blue book” for NOAA, which details the administration’s funding recommendations, specifically directs the agency to “reduce investment in numerical weather prediction modeling.” It calls for a $5 million funding cut “to slow the transition of advanced modeling research into operations for improved warnings and forecasts.”