National Weather Service’s Catastrophic Failure to Communicate
Jeopardizes Emergency Responders during Blizzard
(February 1, 2011) Large scale communication problems at the National Weather Service are hampering the agency’s ability to relay information to emergency responders, the media, and the general public.
“The National Weather Service is experiencing catastrophic failures concerning internet Decision Support Services at a time when the mission of protecting lives and property is most needed,” said Dan Sobien, President of the National Weather Service Employees Organization (NWSEO) and lead forecaster at the Weather Forecast Office in Tampa, Florida. “All eyes are on this blizzard, but the NWS is facing another emergency as it struggles to get its warnings and forecasts out.”
Forecasters use NWSChat to communicate with emergency managers in real time across the country. The failure of weather.gov and NWSChat to handle what should be an expected traffic load is symptomatic of larger problems facing the NWS. The NWS knows that its website and internet architecture is antiquated and has developed preliminary plans to upgrade it. The union has worked with management to design additional ways to serve the American public but without increased funding the forecasters at the NWS will be unable to continue to provide the current level of services, no less improve them or apply new science to protecting the American people.
“Today’s communication failure is a vivid example of the consequences that the entire country will face if the Obama Administration freezes government spending for five years, or if Republicans in Congress succeed in cutting it further,” said Sobien.
NWSEO is the labor organization and professional association that represents 4,000 employees of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S. Department of Commerce.
National Weather Service Employees Organization
Dan Sobien, President NWSEO, 202-420-1043
Lisa Luciani, Director of Communications, 202-907-3036