Department of Commerce

Revolutionize the National Weather Service

By centralizing the National Weather Service (NWS), a very substantial savings could be realized with absolutely no degradation of services to weather, hydrologic and climate forecasts and warnings provided to the American public. As it stands, 122 Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs) provide weather forecasts and warnings for remote areas through the use of remote data collection and nationally produced forecast models. This remote area forecasting approach should be carried out further, to a centralized model, and all un-necessary forecast offices closed.

 

The National Weather Service mission could be carried out centrally, using a more cost-effective centralized approach currently operating at the Air Force Global Weather Center (AFGWC), US Navy Fleet Numerical and Meteorology and Oceanography Center (FNMOC), Weather Channel, Accu-Weather, etc.

 

A phased approach could begin immediately. Initially, all non-vital National Weather Service Forecast Offices could transition their forecasts and warnings to the more critical WFOs. A model for contingency operations exists for catastrophic WFO outages. When an emergency situation occurs at a WFO, an adjacent WFO assumes all responsibilities, with no degradation of service. This same contingency model could be expanded, to include long term support.

 

After the initial round of transitions, impact would be assessed to centralize all operations at one location, possibly co-locate with AFGWC or FNMOC.

 

The maintenance support for weather radar, automated surface observing, NOAA weather radio and data collection platforms could remain or transitioned to the Federal Aviation Administration, which already has NWS trained technicians in place across the country.

 

The current National Weather Service operational model is outdated, redundant, inefficient, and a waste of taxpayer money. The National Weather Service should not only be centralized, but revolutionized to better meet the needs of the American People.

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Idea No. 8476