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Begich Calls for Funding for Accurate Weather Forecasting

Western Alaska Storm & Lower 48 Disasters Make the Case

The federal government should improve its ability to forecast severe weather, such as last week’s 100-year storm which hammered Alaska’s northwestern coast, according to U.S. Sen. Mark Begich who today chaired a Senate subcommittee hearing on the importance of accurate and reliable weather forecasting.

Begich, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and the Coast Guard cited the hurricane-force storm that slammed into Western Alaska and the record number of weather-related disasters plaguing nearly every region of the country. In the hearing, Begich called for a series of solutions to better prepare for and respond to future storms.

“Last week Western Alaska experienced a once-in-a-lifetime storm that would have stretched from Southern California to Washington state if it was in the lower 48,” said Sen. Begich. “While the full damage is still being assessed, it is clear that it could have been far worse if we did not have the benefit of clear warnings from NOAA days in advance. This storm coupled with the hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes and droughts causing damage throughout the country prove the critical value of NOAA’s services and programs.”

Witnesses in the committee spoke about the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s efforts to protect lives and property with early warnings of severe weather and provide Americans with the best possible picture of climate trends and dangers.

In response to the record number of billion dollar disasters experienced in the United States this year, Sen. Begich called for the following solutions:

  • Full funding for the joint-polar state satellite system.  Sen. Begich led the charge in the Senate to secure adequate funding for the program in October, 2011.
  • Consideration of a Climate Service within NOAA to organize the agency’s climate science and better support decision making in communities and businesses impacted by climate change.
  • Finding more effective ways of delivering needed services while controlling costs and improving NOAA’s efficiency.

You can find Sen. Begich’s opening statement on YouTube here

Witnesses before the committee included:

Panel I
The Honorable Mary M. Glackin, Deputy Under Secretary for Operations, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The Honorable Todd J. Zinser, Inspector General, U. S. Department of Commerce.
Mr. David C. Trimble, Director, Natural Resources and Environment, Government Accountability Office.
Rear Admiral Cari B Thomas, United States Coast Guard.

Panel II
Mr. Tom Iseman, Program Director: Water Policy and Implementation; Climate Adaptation, Western Governors’ Association.
Dr. Peter P. Neilley, Vice President, Global Forecasting Services, The Weather Channel Companies.
Mr. Robert Marshall, President and CEO, Earth Networks.

 

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