WeatherZine WeatherZine Number 3, April 26, 1997
"What's happening on the Societal Aspects of Weather WWW Site."


EditorialWorkshop on the Social and Economic Impacts of Weather

Community NewsConcern Over NWS Budget Cuts

New Additions to the WWW Site Subscription & Posting Information


Workshop on the Social and Economic Impacts of Weather

In early April, a workshop was help at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, CO on the social and economic impacts of weather. The workshop was sponsored by the U.S. Weather Research Program, American Meteorological Society, Electric Power Research Institute, White House Subcommittee on Natural Disaster Reduction, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, and the Environmental and Societal Impacts Group at NCAR.

The workshop had three goals: (1) to assess and compile data on the impacts (economic and casualties) associated with extreme weather events in the United States, (2) to assess and discuss the impacts of day-to-day weather on the "costs of doing business" for a number of public and private sector activities, and (3) to overview methodologies used by scholars to document, understand, and enhance the use and value of weather information by decision makers.

Participants in the workshop came from a range of backgrounds and expertise was represented from the social and physical sciences including the disciplines of sociology, medicine, psychology, economics, political science, geography, statistics, and various aspects of climatology and meteorology. Public and private sector participants represented emergency management, agriculture, aviation, surface transportation, private sector meteorology, insurance, and oil and gas exploration.

A preliminary report of the meeting is on the web. It contains data on the impacts of hurricanes, floods, extreme heat and cold, hail, lightning, and tornadoes. It also includes several case studies of the day-to-day impacts of weather on particular economic sectors in the United States. You might be surprised to find that the day-to-day impacts of weather are, cumulatively, likely to be as greater and probably greater than those associated with extreme events. Society's ability to deal with the vagaries of weather is thus as much a matter of emergency response as it is of economic efficiency and competitiveness. The report also includes a primer on the various tools and techniques used by researchers to study and understand the weather/ society interface.

— Roger A. Pielke, Jr.

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Community News

Concern Over NWS Budget Cuts

On April 14, several past presidents of AMS sent letter, exerts of which appear below, to William Daley, Secretary of Commerce, expressing concerns about proposed cuts to the National Weather Service budget.

Dear Mr. Secretary:

The recent announcement of significant cuts in the budget of the National Weather Service and their impact on the Weather Service's capability to warn of severe weather and flood hazards to protect life and property is cause for deep concern. The effect of the budget reductions has been to force the Service to hold a large number of vacancies as well as reduce the number of key employees. This thinning of the Weather Service staffing increases the risk of warning failures with potentially tragic consequences.

We do not know the full extent of the cutbacks and vacancies, but it has been announced that cutbacks will take place at the National Center for Environmental Prediction, the National Hurricane Center, the National Storm Prediction Center, the Aviation Prediction Center, and the Office of Systems Operations. Most of these offices bear the guidance responsibility for the entire field network. They will be weakened with attendant risk increases.

The amount of money required to restore the Weather Service to its full capability is a minor element in the $2.0 billion budget of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. We find it strange that programs focusing on the protection of life and property, a fundamental responsibility of government, have been reduced substantially. We believe adjustments in the priorities of the Department of Commerce and NOAA should be made to avoid the risk of failed warnings. We hope this letter will cause a reevaluation of the present situation. Several of us would be pleased to meet with you at your convenience to discuss this matter further.

With all due respect,

Dr. David Atlas, Prof. Werner A. Baum, Dr. George S. Benton, Dr. Eugene W. Bierly, Dr. Alfred K. Blackadar, Mr. Eugene Bollay, Dr. William D. Bonner, Prof. Roscoe R. Braham, Jr., Dr. George P. Cressman, Prof. Robert G. Fleagle, Dr. Richard E. Hallgren, Dr. Charles L. Hosler, Jr., Dr. David D. Houghton, Mr. David S. Johnson, Prof. Donald R. Johnson, Brig. Gen. Albert J. Kaehn, Dr. William W. Kellogg, Dr. James R. Mahoney, Dr. Thomas F. Malone, Prof. Richard J. Reed, Dr. Robert T. Ryan, Dr. Joanne Simpson, Dr. Joseph Smagorinsky, Dr. Paul D. Try, Dr. Warren M. Washington, Dr. Robert M. White

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Web Site News

New Media Section

This new section is designed to provide the media with pointers to the resources they need to cover stories on the relationship between weather and society as well as pointers to various media sources covering weather.

Many areas of the site contain information relevant to the media such as phenomena specific pages, the safety tips and educational information in the general public page, etc. This section, however, collects only the resources specifically oriented to the media: links and/or contact information for the Public Affairs offices of major weather-related organizations, press-releases, story ideas, and ultimately a list of phenomena specific contacts.

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Top 5 New Links

We have added many new links in the site since the last Zine; below is our "Top 5" of these sites (in alphabetical order):

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