Thursday, November 3, 2005

Fabulous Fall, Failing Forty, Finding Fault, Fixing Funding

There's not much to say about such fine November weather except, "Look for more and better tomorrow." If you are reading tomorrow's afternoon update from work, it won't be because we didn't warn you! Start thinking up your excuses now for leaving early. Temperatures which just nudged or slightly exceeded 70 today will make a more emphatic push into the 70s tomorrow. As Josh noted in the previous comments, the Official Observation still has not reached 40 degrees this season, although some places have seen readings in the 30s.

Tonight and Tomorrow

Tonight's lows will range from the mid 40s in town to near 40 in outlying areas. Tomorrow's sunny skies will drive temperatures to the low 70s, possibly mid 70s in the warmer locations.

More Hurricane Fallout

It's clear that the implications of this year's record hurricane season will play a major role in the public policy debate for a long time. Today's WaPo has an article, "Levees' Construction Faulted In New Orleans Flood Inquiry", which describes the preliminary findings of some expert studies indicating that design or construction failures led to the flooding from Katrina.

NOAA Administrator Conrad C. Lautenbacher has recently responded to the criticism of NOAA and the National Weather Service which was made in a series of Miami Herald articles. Dan discussed this issue (under the heading "A Scathing Review") here a couple of weeks ago.

On the other hand, the Herald reported on Sunday that $25 million has been proposed for improvement in hurricane forecasting.
"Included in the request are new equipment for hurricane hunter planes, more buoys to track ocean conditions, a redesign of the sensors dropped into storms, repairs to damaged equipment, and most notably, another hurricane hunter plane."
While this request deals with equipment, meteorologists say more is needed in the form of:
"more flight crews and flight hours for hurricane hunter planes, more Hurricane Center forecasters, more scientists to build a new hurricane computer model, and equipment and staff members for NOAA's Hurricane Research Division in Miami, whose base budget hasn't topped $3.5 million in more than two decades."
Can you believe NOAA is spending only $3.5 million per year on hurricane research? Every time something like this comes along, it reminds me why I left the government after only 5 years of civilian employment, even though I would be getting a very nice pension by now if I had stayed.

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