Forum Photo by Richard York
Sen. Schumer said the House cuts would make it even harder for New York’s meteorologists to warn communities about upcoming severe weather.
By Forum Staff
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer this week called on the U.S. House of Representatives to reverse a proposed cut of $369 million to the national weather forecasting system, which includes a fleet of satellites.
Schumer said the cut could jeopardize forecasting and alerts, making it even harder for New York’s meteorologists to warn communities about upcoming severe weather. New York’s senior senator cited lessons of Superstorm Sandy and mobile alerts New Yorkers received this past week when strong thunderstorms and heavy rains touched down as he made the case to undo the cuts.
“A stronger-than-normal hurricane season looks like it’s rolling on in, just as Congress tries to roll right over the critical federal funding that ensures the nation’s weather satellites deliver us the forecasting we need to not just plan our day—but to be prepared and stay alive,” Schumer said. “In cities like New York and across Long Island, down-to-the-block forecasting abilities can mean the difference between an evacuation or an ‘all-clear’ and that’s why it makes no sense to cut key federal resources that go towards upgrading, repairing and replacing our essential weather satellites. The information we gather on weather from high above the earth translates to safety on the ground and that’s why we must put high pressure on Congress before these essential weather satellites become wasted space junk. The House of Representatives should reverse course and restore these funds, which local meteorologists rely on for accurately predicting extreme weather patterns.”
The senator noted that the House has proposed cutting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Polar Follow-On program by $369 million, compared to the Senate’s proposal; the PFO program includes a next-generation polar-orbiting satellite that will provide the National Weather Service the data it needs to accurately predict storm patterns and weather forecasts. Schumer also pointed to a brand-new forecast report released this week that suggests a 62-percent chance of a major hurricane hitting the Atlantic Coast. Schumer said that in light of this new analysis, and recent storms across the state, Congress should restore these cuts and make sure the national weather forecasting operation is sufficiently funded.
Additionally, Schumer pointed to a recent Newsday story that noted how forecasters now see a 71-percent probability of a hurricane striking the East Coast this storm season – up from the 51-percent probability announced in April. The same report, which cited Colorado State University forecast experts, also said the odds of the most dangerous storms, categories 3 through 5, increased to 38 percent from 24 percent this April. Schumer said these new warnings should be alarm bells for Congress as they consider the consequences of cuts to the weather satellite system.