Fully fund NOAA, and spare employees the stress and anxiety of another shutdown.
(From The Washington Post/By Carissa Bunge, Ari Gerstman, and Allison Hays)
The authors are the co-chairs of the Friends of NOAA.
Early in the morning of Jan. 19, the tornadoes began to touch down in Mississippi. The Jackson National Weather Service forecast office meticulously observed and tracked the hazardous weather. Local authorities were kept updated, and the public was warned of high winds.
The storm later started damaging homes and downing power lines in Louisiana; the New Orleans/Baton Rouge forecast office kept the public and state and local governments informed. Then after noon, tornadoes began injuring people in Alabama, and the Birmingham forecast office issued alerts and warned the public.
Finally, that evening a tornado moved a car and tore the roof off a building at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida; no one was harmed because of warnings from the Tallahassee forecast office. Before and during the storm, forecasters received new model run updates every six hours from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction in Maryland.
At each of these Weather Service forecast offices and centers, forecasters worked around the clock to keep the public apprised, forecast the weather in real time, and work with local emergency managers to mitigate any damage to lives and property — all without pay.
Forecasting the weather during extreme storms is stressful business. Meteorologists weigh all of the information in front of them — observations, model outputs, road conditions and the public’s readiness — to issue watches and warnings, make accurate and reliable forecasts and keep state and local decision-makers informed. The public has come to expect excellent weather prediction for extreme storms, so bad forecasts are not tolerated.
Every day for 35 days, from Dec. 22, 2018, to Jan. 25, forecasters across the United States came to work not knowing when they would next get paid. They did this work because they believe in their mission, because of the discipline and high moral character the job demands, and because they love their jobs. They consistently came to work despite the stress and anxiety of rent, the mortgage, credit card bills, car payments and child care, all to make sure that we — fellow Americans — were safe. For that, we owe them an incredible debt of gratitude.
To show that gratitude, we, the co-chairs of the Friends of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — a funding advocacy group for the Weather Service’s parent agency — ask that Congress and President Trump fully fund NOAA for the rest of the fiscal year and not force…