Can you trust weather forecasts during the government shutdown?

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Jan 18, 2009
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Benton, Arkansas
sacrey.info
Here is another winner of an article from Accuweather throwing the NWS under the bus while touting themselves. I apologize for not posting it last night. They are catching some serious, well deserved backlash for this, and have "modified" the original story and posted an apology as well. Too little, too late on both.

https://web.archive.org/web/2019011...casts-during-the-government-shutdown/70007173

Edit: Original story was posted by @ChaserTV on Twitter last night.
 

Jeff Duda

Resident meteorological expert
Staff member
Oct 7, 2008
3,295
2,026
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Broomfield, CO
www.meteor.iastate.edu
I haven't really been paying attention to much in the way of this shutdown but this just another reason why it pays to do some of your own forecasting!
The notion that anyone is doing their own forecasts in this context is a bit misguided. Consider the following...

If you use any operational NWP models you are subjected to the whims of government as well. The NAM, GFS, RAP, HRRR, and all ensembles and flavors therein...all federal government sponsored products, and all subject to go down in the event of a long-lasting total government shutdown.

Also, balloon soundings to depict upper-air conditions? Launched by NWS offices (federal government).

METARs? A large fraction are owned or operated by the FAA (federal government).

Satellite? NASA

Radar? NWS

We long ago entered a realm in which no single human being can really forecast beyond a few hours (say 6-12) skillfully without the use of some sort of government-sponsored technology.

And no human can outforecast any modern NWP model beyond a day or so. That capability ended at least 10 years ago.

Yes, there are a handful of private/non-federal entities that provide other products useful in forecasting. If you're plugged into one of them (e.g., WSI or Vaisala), or you're paying for non-American weather forecasts, then you still have a resource. Many universities also run their own weather models, but consider that all of the big schools (TTU, OU, KU, CU, CSU, PSU, UWisc, UWash etc.) get a ton of research and computing funding from NSF...also a federal program.
 
Last edited:
Aug 22, 2015
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Hastings, Nebraska
Jeff Duda that is true, this is something I guess I never even thought of. I was more so thinking about using things like the SPC and WPC. Thanks for this correction!
 

Jeff Duda

Resident meteorological expert
Staff member
Oct 7, 2008
3,295
2,026
21
Broomfield, CO
www.meteor.iastate.edu
Jeff Duda that is true, this is something I guess I never even thought of. I was more so thinking about using things like the SPC and WPC. Thanks for this correction!
SPC, WPC, CPC...same deal. All housed under NWS, and thus all equally subject to blackout in a shutdown.

I suppose many people don't realize just how much weather information and technology is funded by their taxes.

For the anti-government, anti-tax folks reading this, you need to be informed that at least some of your tax money is going to very important services. The ROI on atmospheric science and forecasting has been calculated and demonstrated to be very high. The amount that society at large benefits from scientific research and application funding is insane compared to other ventures funded by the public, including some ventures that some people put way more effort and emotion into defending (at the risk of turning this thread political, I will stop there).