Archive for the ‘Author: Gratz, J.’ Category

Taking the Initiative: Public/Private Weather Debate Continues…

June 21st, 2005

Posted by: admin

For those not familiar with the current (and past) debate between the private weather sector, academic meteorology community, and the public weather services (generally NOAA and the National Weather Service (NWS)), here’s a very brief overview.

The private meteorology community is worried about unfair competition from the academic and public sectors and the lack of a clear policy concerning how the sectors interact and how the sectors should solve disputes that arise. The private sector feels that the government’s weather services are stealing a piece of their pie and doing it unfairly, since the private sector contributes tax dollars which help to fund the government weather services that eventually compete against it. Further, the private sector feels that the nation as a whole could benefit from a more limited NWS/NOAA role. This more limited role would remove some services that are duplicated between the government and private sector which would release more government money and personnel to address the core functions of NWS/NOAA.

The recent NRC Fair Weather Report and the very recent Santorum Senate Bill S.786 both address this issue, and numerous other academic papers and press releases by industry organizations also address the issue. The latest release by the National Council of Industrial Meteorologists is perhaps the most detailed release to-date, and outlines four goals that the NWS/NOAA should work toward while developing policies to solve the on-going debate. In part, these goals mention “…prohibiting uniformly within NOAA the development and dissemination of products and services that unfairly compete with the products and services of private sector meteorology…” and “Encourage positively NOAA’s interaction and collaboration with private sector meteorology through a variety of means and venues…”


Predicting and Positioning for Hurricanes

June 17th, 2005

Posted by: admin

Greetings! Since this is my first post to Prometheus I will introduce myself: I am a third-year graduate student of Roger Pielke Jr. working toward a MS in policy and meteorology and an MBA, both at the University of Colorado.

Following the recent Prometheus posts on Hurricanes (here and here), I want to bring up another issue that involves hurricane forecasting. In 1999, Roger Pielke Jr. wrote this article in Science which points out the differences between improving hurricane track forecasts and translating this improved forecast into measurable benefits for emergency managers and other decision makers and stakeholders. The gist of the 1999 article is that hurricane track forecasts since 1970 improved at the rate of about 1% per year while the length of coastline warned per storm increased from about 300 nautical miles (nm) in the late 60’s to about 400 nm during the 1990’s. Basically, the science of prediction improved, but the science and art of positioning government agencies and the public for hurricanes did not improve, at least by the metric of ‘miles of coastline warned’.

Fast-forward to 2005, and it seems like both the improved prediction and stagnant positioning trends are the same as they were in 1999. An article in the May 2005 issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS) points to the success of the U.S. Weather Research Program’s (USWRP) goal of “…tropical cyclone track forecast guidance products with an improvement in accuracy of 20%…” The author of this article points out that the 20% improvement goal was “challenging”, and as I write on page 26 of my undergraduate thesis, specific and challenging goals are proven to lead to more successful results than general, or “do our best” goals. In this vein, I applaud the research effort that lead to the successful completion of bettering hurricane track forecast models by 20%.