Why The USA Has Fallen Behind In Weather Forecasting


I just read an excellent (but long!) writeup by UW Professor Cliff Mass about the serious issues at hand in NOAA and the NWS.  These issues are degrading our ability to forecast weather as accurately as we can here in the USA as we fall behind other world forecasting and weather modeling organizations.  A good read!


By the way, I agree with Cliff that the local NWS employees are great.  They are totally different from when I started in this business almost 20 years ago.  I remember making a call over there in the early 1990s when they genuinely seemed annoyed that I called.  But every single one I have dealt with in the past 10 years has been helpful.  The problem is much higher up in that organization as Cliff spells out in his blog.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

16 Responses to Why The USA Has Fallen Behind In Weather Forecasting

  1. happy valley charlie:
    cliff mass is RIGHT ON! he probably knows more about what’s going on than any of us. Thanks for supporting him , mark, we need to stick together to protect the NWS. There are those out there with a right wing political agenda (some of our own in fact) that would like nothing better than see that nasty ole government agency, the NWS, go away…Keep up the good work..

  2. paulbeugene says:

    Mon PM comments:
    Just checked out the Canadian Ensembles…after looking at the GFS 00Z operational run and ensemble mean (not the actual members).
    There seem to be signals once again that a major pattern shift may unfold around day 10-12 with ridging developing somewhere between 130 and 150W, arctic air to plunge S into the lower 48 somwhere.
    Even though the 00Z operational GFS looked not good for arctic air in our area for Christmas…the trend toward ridging developing somewhere is hard to ignore.
    Keep in mind that the Canadian ensemble members may tend to look a little extreme…check this out…this is far out:
    Frame 14 would be all time cold for Nevada and California..the entire agriculture industry down there would go belly up like a dead green giant

  3. 00z was an interesting run… Several cold troughs keep temps below average onto hour 180. Then a deeper cold trough right around the 18-20th, followed by a warm up at the upper levels but with cold air entrenched east of the cascades, temps stay low in the valley with breezy/gusty east winds and cold clear days near the gorge, and inversions everywhere else. Best example of this is from hours 264 to 324, 850mb temps are warmer than 925mb temps. Not a bad run at all…

  4. 00z GFS
    The progressive pattern and westerlies seem to shut down. There could be very good things ahead.

  5. One of the better sunsets I can remember. Also, at least according to my phone app and weather software, today’s sunset was the earliest of the year. The sunset will slowly get later from now on, however, the sunrises continue to get later for some time.

  6. paulbeugene says:

    Grinch Forecasting System shows a huge lump of coal (big ridge) in time for Christmas..while the big bag stuffed with arctic air slides east of Rockies to the east coast .
    The good thing:
    GFS long range=Fantasy

  7. Mark says:

    As NASA is challenged and uber-rich like Richard Branson moves to launching VirginGalactic, and the Space X-like programs take place, it is competition that is driving the space market.

    Roughly $5.5 billion in funding for the NOAA, and $1 billion of that earmarked for the National Weather Service…

    The massive bureaucracy and retirees that accumulate over the years start to absorb the bulk of funds flowing into any Government programs.

    I’m not going to stream out to a massive political bent here — my overarching point is that competition breeds excellence, and those that can’t compete – don’t.

    However, there is hope. With the US falling behind, it is other governments showing their competitive edge over the US, and that is – ironically – competition (albeit Gov. vs Gov. it is competition none-the-less).

    But perhaps in another 20 years, companies like Unisys and emerging consumer companies like The Weather Channel and others start to take on – or even out – the National Weather Service? Sounds crazy now, but if they can find ways to profit from it, it’ll be done.

  8. pappoose in scappoose says:

    Frankly speaking! Hahaah!

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