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OfflineBaby_Hitler
Errorist
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Registered: 03/06/02
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Feds' weather information could go dark.
    #4082802 - 04/21/05 10:06 PM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Repooplicans. SHEESH!


http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/content/news/epaper/2005/04/21/m1a_wx_0421.html


Do you want a seven-day weather forecast for your ZIP code? Or hour-by-hour predictions of the temperature, wind speed, humidity and chance of rain? Or weather data beamed to your cellphone?

That information is available for free from the National Weather Service.

Latest weather updates
Thursday, Apr. 21
Local Weather
Doppler 12000 Radar Temp: 73?

More resources
? Report your conditions
? Tides, winds, waves
? Live police, fire scanners
? Traffic updates, delays
? Free e-mail alerts
Storm 2005
? Preview the season

More news
? Latest AP news
? State/Legislature
? Political coverage
? Honor fallen soldiers
? Florida Lotto numbers
? Special Reports

But under a bill pending in the U.S. Senate, it might all disappear.

The bill, introduced last week by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., would prohibit federal meteorologists from competing with companies such as AccuWeather and The Weather Channel, which offer their own forecasts through paid services and free ad-supported Web sites.

Supporters say the bill wouldn't hamper the weather service or the National Hurricane Center from alerting the public to hazards ? in fact, it exempts forecasts meant to protect "life and property."

But critics say the bill's wording is so vague they can't tell exactly what it would ban.

"I believe I've paid for that data once. ... I don't want to have to pay for it again," said Scott Bradner, a technical consultant at Harvard University.

He says that as he reads the bill, a vast amount of federal weather data would be forced offline.

"The National Weather Service Web site would have to go away," Bradner said. "What would be permitted under this bill is not clear ? it doesn't say. Even including hurricanes."

Nelson questions intention

The decision of what information to remove would be up to Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez ? possibly followed, in the event of legal challenges, by a federal judge.

A spokesman for Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said the bill threatens to push the weather service back to a "pre-Internet era" ? a questionable move in light of the four hurricanes that struck the state last year. Nelson serves on the Senate Commerce Committee, which has been assigned to consider the bill.

"The weather service proved so instrumental and popular and helpful in the wake of the hurricanes. How can you make an argument that we should pull it off the Net now?" said Nelson's spokesman, Dan McLaughlin. "What are you going to do, charge hurricane victims to go online, or give them a pop-up ad?"

But Barry Myers, AccuWeather's executive vice president, said the bill would improve public safety by making the weather service devote its efforts to hurricanes, tsunamis and other dangers, rather than duplicating products already available from the private sector.

"The National Weather Service has not focused on what its core mission should be, which is protecting other people's lives and property," said Myers, whose company is based in State College, Pa. Instead, he said, "It spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year, every day, producing forecasts of 'warm and sunny.'"

Santorum made similar arguments April 14 when introducing his bill. He also said expanded federal services threaten the livelihoods of private weather companies.

"It is not an easy prospect for a business to attract advertisers, subscribers or investors when the government is providing similar products and services for free," Santorum said.

AccuWeather has been an especially vocal critic of the weather service and its parent agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The company has accused the federal agencies of withholding data on hurricanes and other hazards, and failing to ensure that employees don't feed upcoming forecasts to favored investors in farming and energy markets.

Weather service expands data

The rivalry intensified last year, when NOAA shelved a 1991 policy that had barred the weather agency from offering services that private industry could provide.

Also last year, the weather service began offering much of its raw data on the Internet in an easily digestible format, allowing entrepreneurs and hobbyists to write simple programs to retrieve the information. At the same time, the weather service's own Web pages have become increasingly sophisticated.

Combined, the trends threaten AccuWeather's business of providing detailed weather reports based on an array of government and private data. AccuWeather's 15,000 customers include The Palm Beach Post, which uses the company's hurricane forecast maps on its Web site, PalmBeachPost.com.

NOAA has taken no position on the bill. But Ed Johnson, the weather service's director of strategic planning and policy, said his agency is expanding its online offerings to serve the public.

"If someone claims that our core mission is just warning the public of hazardous conditions, that's really impossible unless we forecast the weather all the time," Johnson said. "You don't just plug in your clock when you want to know what time it is."

Myers argued that nearly all consumers get their weather information for free through commercial providers, including the news media, so there's little reason for the federal agency to duplicate their efforts.

"Do you really need that from the NOAA Web site?" he asked.

But some weather fans, such as Bradner, say they prefer the federal site's ad-free format.

Another supporter of the weather service's efforts, Tallahassee database analyst John Simpson, said the plethora of free data becoming available could eventually fuel a new industry of small and emerging companies that would repackage the information for public consumption. He said a similar explosion occurred in the 1990s, when corporations' federal securities filings became freely available on the Web.

Shutting off the information flow would stifle that innovation and solidify the major weather companies' hold on the market, Simpson said.

Santorum's bill also would require the weather service to provide "simultaneous and equal access" to its information.

That would prevent weather service employees from favoring some news outlets over others, which Santorum and Myers said has happened in some markets. But it also could end the common practice of giving one-on-one interviews to individual reporters who have questions about storms, droughts or other weather patterns.

"What we want is to make sure that whatever information is provided to one source is provided to all," Myers said.

But Johnson said it's importanst to answer reporters' questions so the public receives accurate information ? especially when lives are at stake.

"We are not interested in turning off our telephones," Johnson said. "I would be concerned that that would actually be dangerous."


--------------------


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InvisiblePsychoactive1984
PositiveCynicist
Male
Registered: 02/06/05
Posts: 3,546
Loc: California, Monterey Coun...
Re: Feds' weather information could go dark. [Re: Baby_Hitler]
    #4083500 - 04/22/05 01:40 AM (11 years, 7 months ago)

~bullshit.

I kind of agree though, why give information for free without advertisements?

this message brought to you by Coca Cola???


--------------------
"Their is one overriding question that concerns us all: How can we get out of the fatal groove we are in, the one that is leading towards the brink?" Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
"We may not be capable of eradicating the corruption of reason, but we must nevertheless counter it at every instance and with every means." Dan Agin
"Politics is the best religion and politicians are the worst followers."
-It's ok to trip as long as you don't fall.
-Substance over Style.
-Common sense is uncommon.


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Offlinelackobreath
Cannabis Man
Registered: 01/27/05
Posts: 517
Last seen: 10 years, 7 months
Re: Feds' weather information could go dark. [Re: Psychoactive1984]
    #4083611 - 04/22/05 02:32 AM (11 years, 7 months ago)

"The National Weather Service (NWS) provides weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts and warnings for the United States, its territories, adjacent waters and ocean areas, for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy. NWS data and products form a national information database and infrastructure which can be used by other governmental agencies, the private sector, the public, and the global community."

That above, is exactly why all of their info should be right on the NOAA website, for free....then, how exactly does the NWS go about withholding info from a private corporation without withholding that info from everyone?...especially when dealing with potentially catastrophic things such as hurricanes...

God forbid the government actually be able to give us something useful and beneficial for "free"...


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OfflineSeussA
Error: divide byzero

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Registered: 04/27/01
Posts: 23,480
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Last seen: 29 days, 1 hour
Re: Feds' weather information could go dark. [Re: lackobreath]
    #4084003 - 04/22/05 07:21 AM (11 years, 7 months ago)

I understand the arguement... why should a government service, which is payed for by taxpayers, be allowed to compete with a private business. At the same time, those private businesses are using assets (satalite images, sea bouy data, government owned supercomputers for simulations, etc) to produce their product. Why should my tax money go to support a private business's product that I still have to pay for to use as well. I would be extremly surprised if one of these "weather companies" isn't headquartered within Rick Santorum's state.

I wonder what kind of liability private weather companies have for damage caused by weather due to inaccurate forcasts if they get rid of all government supported forcasting.


--------------------
Just another spore in the wind.


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Invisiblecarbonhoots
old hand

Registered: 09/11/01
Posts: 1,351
Loc: BC Canada
Re: Feds' weather information could go dark. [Re: Baby_Hitler]
    #4085479 - 04/22/05 05:27 PM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Well it's about time.

Why should the government take away somebody's market with free information?

The best information must be provided on a for profit basis. Otherwise there is no motivation to be acurate.

The people shouldn't even be allowed to read government bills, the President's words or know where the army's off to without paying private companies for that information.


--------------------
  -I'd rather have a frontal lobotomy than a bottle in front of me

CANADIAN CENTER FOR POLICY ALTERNATIVES


Edited by carbonhoots (04/22/05 05:28 PM)


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InvisibleDirtMcgirt
in a pinch
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Registered: 10/20/04
Posts: 2,213
Loc: city of angels
Re: Feds' weather information could go dark. [Re: carbonhoots]
    #4087707 - 04/23/05 06:39 AM (11 years, 7 months ago)



--------------------
"And we, inhabitants of the great coral of the Cosmos, believe the atom (which still we cannot see) to be full matter, whereas, it too, like everything else, is but an embroidery of voids in the Void, and we give the name of being, dense and even eternal, to that dance of inconsistencies, that infinite extension that is identified with absolute Nothingness and that spins from its own non-being the illusion of everything."


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