The National Weather Out-Of-Service

After the damage caused during last year’s hurricane season, Brian Merchant is gob-smacked that we’re not better prepared for the upcoming one:

This summer is going to be a stormy hurricane-filled hell—climatologists are predicting more extreme activity this season than the last, and remember Frankenstorm Sandy? So you’d think we’d be gearing up to brace for impact: Hiring on extra storm forecasters, investing in better satellites and modeling computers, all around getting more hands on deck.

Instead—and stop me if you’ve heard this one before—we’re doing the opposite. Fresh off the cusp of the biggest hurricane disaster to swamp the East Coast in decades, Congress is allowing budget cuts to hamper the nation’s most important storm-monitoring services.

Climate Progress provides the details:

The National Weather Service, already cash-strapped and under scrutiny for sub-par computer modeling, will be grappling with a hiring freeze and mandatory furloughs as it heads into a potentially daunting hurricane season. The NWS office in Tallahassee, which typically has 18 meteorologists on staff, is down to 14 due to the cuts. Though officials say they can maintain adequate staffing to provide critical services, such as forecasting at the National Hurricane Center in Miami and sending aircraft known as Hurricane Hunters into storms to measure speed and pressure, the staff and crews will be forced to take turns being furloughed. …

With resources and personnel already stretched thin, the prospect of multiple major storms becomes even more daunting. “The biggest concern would be if we have a very active hurricane season and we have back-to-back storms or we have multiple storms hitting the state, they would simply not have the manpower necessary to ensure they have the appropriate coverage in all their field offices to provide us with the most accurate and timely forecast,” said Bryan Koon, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.