NWS News: Nested Office Concept

Article found here at the NWS Employee Union Homepage: http://www.nwseo.org/nested.html

NWS forecasters that I know have discussed the possibility of this occurring in the past and it finally looks like the Central Region will the first to test this idea. For the sake of my many friends in the NWS I hope that this project does not succeed as it will mean the loss of hundreds of jobs across the nation as the NWS looks to consolidate its operations. Losing the local insight provided by a full staff of forecasters at each WFO will likely hamper the NWS' efforts toward fulfilling its mission statement. The nested office experiment will still have to receive funding for FY 2008, but it is highly likely that a version close to what is discussed will be tested 3 years from now.

Hopefully this will open the eyes of those vehemently opposed to allowing of the private sector added opportunities to fulfill the void that exists in communication of weather information that effects the general public, private companies and other interests. Cutbacks and forecasting philosophy changes have been long rumored within the NWS...now that it appears this is closer to becoming reality (although a national change to this is unlikely in the next 5 to 10 years due to beauracracy and the likely backlash), others will have to step up to the plate to provide forecasting and other weather information needed by citizens of the United States down the road.
 
I was far too polite in my original reply, so I corrected it:

Whoever is responsible for this asinine idea should be fired. This is the same type of thinking that turned the Weather Channel into QVC. Are people at the top so stupid they can't see the forest for the trees? You're talking about f*cking the NWS out of being what it's supposed to be.

We'll have OUN doing meet-n-greets all Spring at schools while some government, kiss-ass "yes!" man is sending out warnings for the next May 3, 1999 that's happening 500 miles away. This move will only hamper the ability of the NWS to preform its duty, and in turn, fuel the fire of its opposers to yank funding and funnel those monies into more important things, like digging holes in the ground to find out how animals that lived 5,000,000 years ago had sex, or discovering what foods gives whales the sh*ts.

Our government's priorities are already screwed enough as it is, let's not flood the idiot think tank with ways to destroy the single-most important government service in existence. Weather effects humans on a global scale, more than any other element in our existence. It should be damn-well repsected as such, and government funding should reflect that. Our country spends too much money on stupid crap that only enlightens. What's more impotant? To be enlightened, or to be protected?

Of course our current administration might not be the best group of people to propose this to...
 
"Whoever is responsible for this asinine idea should be fired."

We've known this was the goal of NWS HQ once NDFD came to light... The feeling in the upper-levels is that models do an acceptable job at forecasting, so why not let the model handle 80% of it and have the human fill in the rest? HQ is on the record saying that offices should NOT run their own local modeling because it makes the grids look awkward if they don't mesh well.

Doswell has a lengthy paper on this very topic as well (I think Brooks was in the mix too.)

And let's be honest - does Joe Public get their local forecast from NWS? I'd guess that WAY less than 10% would answer yes to that.

- Rob

http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/users/brooks/publ.../waf15/bfd.html
http://webserv.chatsystems.com/~doswell/fo...casting_II.html
 
Originally posted by rdale
And let's be honest - does Joe Public get their local forecast from NWS? I'd guess that WAY less than 10% would answer yes to that.

Joe Public gets his forecast from the middlemen who create their forecast based on all the information supplied by the National Weather Service. I'm a friend of Joe, and happen to know that lately he's been leaning toward helping the NWS continue to operate as it always has.
 
Originally posted by Nic Wilson


Hopefully this will open the eyes of those vehemently opposed to allowing of the private sector added opportunities to fulfill the void that exists in communication of weather information that effects the general public, private companies and other interests.

While I agree that the possiblity of NWS consolidation and the loss of local expertise is a serious concern for future accuracy of local weather forecasts, how does this possibility relate to this nebulous void of communication you are referring to? What is this lack of communication and where is it coming from? How does silencing the NWS in deference to private firms such that the public has no choice but to get private forecasts at their additional expense fix this potential problem?

I don't think there are many on this board that would be naive enough not to see the relationship between the proposals to "downsize" the NWS and the recent powerplay by certain private sector entities to gag the NWS. In fact your statement that the private sector would have to "Step up to the plate" to provide forecasting sevice is probably exactly what they are hoping for.

Originally posted by rdale
does Joe Public get their local forecast from NWS? I'd guess that WAY less than 10% would answer yes to that.

I think a better question would be does Joe Public know exactly where their forecast is coming from? I bet that less than 10% would know the answer to that.
As far as how many are getting their forecast from the NWS - the numbers via the internet are rapidly increasing, which is at least partially driving the current push to limit the public's access to these sites.
 
1. There is no correlation between the NWS "nested office" proposal and S 786. First I heard about it was when I read it here. The Commercial Weather Services Assn. has not and, to my knowledge, none of the members have called for downsizing or consolidation of the NWS.

2. There is extensive discussion on S 786 at: http://stormtrack.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6333 . IMPORTANT POINT: The bill is NOT about silencing the NWS. Indeed it is the opposite. The bill makes clear 100% of what the NWS does should be released through the data portals (we are afraid they will go away) and whatever other mechanisms the Sec. of Commerce deems appropriate (NWR, web pages, etc.). That is not the case now. The bill is about what the NWS should be doing. The NWS should not (for example) be doing the NDFD (and most NWS forecasters that I have spoken to agree). But, if the NWS does the NDFD or any other product, it should released.

3. There have been multiple, peer-reviewed, independent studies that show the public prefers to get its weather information from the private sector, even in tornadoes and other critical weather situations. I know many wish this was not the case, but it is.
 
"Joe Public gets his forecast from the middlemen who create their forecast based on all the information supplied by the National Weather Service."

Completely agree. This "nesting" would not impact that at all... It would impact the quality of the NDFD forecast.
 
Well, if anything happens, Detroit is listed as a major NWS location, which will actually gain employees...

As long as I can get the NWS forecast discussions and the usual datasets (model, nexrad, satellite, whatever), then this doesn't really affect me. I pay very little attention to any forecasts outside my own...
 
I'm opposed to anything that steals jobs away from honest people. If they're worried about costs/spending, then stop spending money on stupid crap, such as things I mentioned in my original post. People should never be considered part of the "unneccesary spending" pool after they've been obviously used for years in their current jobs. Laymen's terms: if they were needed ten years ago, five years ago, last week, they're needed period. Downsizing isn't the answer to cutting costs, it's the first step to developing a lesser service within the NWS. Fewer people, less of a chain, more of a communication gap. I'm thinking about this from a chaser/fellow human being point-of-view.

Those who would favor this change are obviously not depending on an NWS position for their livelihood.
 
Originally posted by Shane Adams
I'm opposed to anything that steals jobs away from honest people. If they're worried about costs/spending, then stop spending money on stupid crap, such as things I mentioned in my original post. People should never be considered part of the \"unneccesary spending\" pool after they've been obviously used for years in their current jobs. Laymen's terms: if they were needed ten years ago, five years ago, last week, they're needed period. Downsizing isn't the answer to cutting costs, it's the first step to developing a lesser service within the NWS. Fewer people, less of a chain, more of a communication gap. I'm thinking about this from a chaser/fellow human being point-of-view.

Those who would favor this change are obviously not depending on an NWS position for their livelihood.

I agree... BUT, downsizing is something that will always occur in the job market. Let's say a company is moving right along with tons of customers per year, then all of a sudden they lose half of their customers - That means you really don't need as many employees as you originally had.

Another way to think about it: Let's say you have a large lawn, and you hire someone to mow it. Then, you decide to move to an apartment, where you no longer need the lawn mower man. That means you will have to fire/lay off/whatever the lawn mower man... You had to lay him off because you no longer needed the service, it would be a waste to continue paying a guy who doesn't need to mow your lawn...

Somehow, somewhere, that anology probably applies to the NWS.

I fear that in the future, there won't even be forecasters at the NWS, it will just be a bunch of computers spitting out gridded forecasts :(
 
Originally posted by M Conder

I don't think there are many on this board that would be naive enough not to see the relationship between the proposals to \"downsize\" the NWS and the recent powerplay by certain private sector entities to gag the NWS. In fact your statement that the private sector would have to \"Step up to the plate\" to provide forecasting sevice is probably exactly what they are hoping for.

S 786 and NWS' Nested Office Concept are not directly connected by any means, but I think that it is naive to think that the private sector doesn't understand which direction the NWS is hoping to go and capitalizing from the deficiencies it will inherently create in local and personalized (e.g. tailored products for businesses, etc.) forecasts. S 786 probably isn't even worth talking about since it is not likely to even make it to the floor. However, the Nested Office Concept discussed by the NWS Employees Union is much more feasible as the concept has been in the works in recent years and finally appears to be one step away from reality.

Originally posted by rdewey
I fear that in the future, there won't even be forecasters at the NWS, it will just be a bunch of computers spitting out gridded forecasts
This is the catch-22 that exists in most scientific and engineering fields these days (e.g. automotive industry, artificial intelligence, etc) . Advancement of automated forecasting techniques such as numerical weather prediction, neural network pattern recognition and intelligent nowcasting systems are producing accurate forecasts with skill levels close to that of human forecasters. The demand for human forecasters to interpret the output of automated forecasting techniques and issue warnings will always be there, but unfortunately will lead to downsizing across the board within the NWS forecast offices. NCEP better tighten up their security to avoid sabotage of their new suite of model products coming out later in the year :p
 
While I don't completely disagree with the idea presented (nested offices), I can't see why some in the field think this is good for the field (especially the ideas presented by Doswell, et al ---and all due respect to those guys)????

Really, what does this propose? Well, other than making computers the number one forecaster (and the human forecaster a monkey that babysits the computers), but it seems to propose to move forecast responsibility to a black box (the models). Well, really, just get rid of forecast responsibility (and most importantly, accountability) and hope for the best. :roll: I do agree though that there should be better job of QC in forecast abilities with the operational meteorologists (the certification system mentioned in Doswell et al)

I can't see the appeal for future meteorologists to this system (I'm back to Doswell et al). What are we gonna tell them: "Oh yeah, if you're really good you can go forecast the severe events...but most of the time you get to babysit a computer and use none of your abilities you just spent 4 (or more) years earning"

While moving to nested offices may be good for the budget and cooperation with the private sector, I can't see outside of that the good. Given what I said above, who would want to become a meteorologist unless their explict purpose is research? Further, it seems that by moving to more central offices, the NWS is trying to hide itself further from the public...while the WFO system currently implace makes them a large part of a local community.
 
"Given what I said above, who would want to become a meteorologist unless their explict purpose is research?"

Strange as this may sound to some - there are MANY forecasting roles in the meteorological world OUTSIDE of the NWS...
 
Originally posted by rdale
\"Given what I said above, who would want to become a meteorologist unless their explict purpose is research?\"

Strange as this may sound to some - there are MANY forecasting roles in the meteorological world OUTSIDE of the NWS...

My apologies, I wasn't clear enough there. I was thinking more along the lines of operational forecasting with the NWS. I was in a rush to get to lunch, so the wording got messy! :oops:
 
Originally posted by Shane Adams

We'll have OUN doing meet-n-greets all Spring at schools while some government, kiss-ass \"yes!\" man is sending out warnings for the next May 3, 1999 that's happening 500 miles away.

From my understanding, it would be more akin to the old WSFO/WSO setup, i.e. a local office would be sending out local severe weather warnings.

Chris G.
 
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