Recently, in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, there was an op-ed piece by Mike Smith of Weather Data and a response by Dan Sobein the VP of the NWS Employees Organization (Our Union). Mr. Smith's idea of the NWS withholding data is wrong, and Dan takes him to task about it, when it comes to Hurricane Charley. Mr. Smith claimed that there was a delay in releasing the data of 34 minutes from one of the USAF planes.
As I responded to someone on my blog a couple of weeks ago, who claimed that my dad and I didn't understand the intent of the bill sponsored by Rick Santorum, was off base, in the fact that they claimed that there was a law needed to make sure that 100% of the data is released in realtime. However, as Mr. Sobein points out, there were technical problems and misunderstandings that caused the what was perceived to be a delay in the data. As I said in my response, no office withholds data or forecasts. This bill is not needed.
The second part of this bill is to limit the NWS. The commercial weather services would love to get us out of the forecasting arena to make more money, but as I stated before, if people can't pay for the forecast then they are more likely to go out unprepared for the type of weather that may come at them. Part of prevention is preparedness, and the government has a responsibility to make sure that the information is there before the warnings begin to fly.
I have been more and more getting into social justice issues and this is one that makes me mad. There is a point when only the private sector can provide the same services and adequately cover the population at large. When I hear of these things I am immediately suspicious of the motives of the private sector. I'm all for free enterprise and capitalism, but when it begins to threaten public safety, by removing the forecasts that everyone has already paid for, and would prepare them for the coming storms before any warning is issued, then to me action to block this type of legislation is needed.