April 22, 2005

A bit of clarification - Three Points
( Rick Santorum's “National Weather Services Duties Act of 2005”)

I had written yesterday about Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and his bill that would effectively shut down the wonderful NOAA Weather site and force people to use commercial weather providers, either fee-based or screens with lots of advertising and pop-ups. Reader Deo posted a comment to this:
The NWS's original charter was to collect data and warn people. Now they're spending my tax dollars making flash based radar? No thanks. The next thing you know they'll be handing out free weather stations to everyone. But that will be okay, right - because we paid for it with tax dollars.
Point One -- the commercial weather providers get the majority of their data from NOAA and the National Weather Service. They do very little collection on their own. There is little or no value being added by these companies except for packaging and some fancy graphics. Point Two -- you are very much correct about the National Weather Service (NWS) having an original charter of Collecting Data and Warning People. Your comment addressed a concern about: "spending my tax dollars making flash based radar". They already spent your tax dollars in the collection stage. Putting data they already collected onto a website is a very simple and cheap task. I do not have any numbers about their staffing and hardware budget but I have worked with groups that had large web databases (I used to work at Microsoft on the hardware support team for SQL Server and later for their Enterprise Scalability Lab) They already HAVE the website -- even if the current level of weather information is taken away by Santorum's poxy bill, the rest of NWS and NOAA is still there. They have the Datacenter and the Servers to run it. You would need a part time developer and there would be some extra overhead for bandwidth and server maintenance but I would be very willing to bet that the total cost to run this service is much less than the cost to run an automated weather station per year. When trying to think why Santorum is promoting such a literally useless piece of legislation, I can only think of following the money. Senator Santorum certainly seems to have done so. (Wal-Mart, et. al.) The website is such a benefit to people in so many ways that it would be a shame to take it away especially when the economic impact is so minimal. We are already paying for the data to be gathered, I would not mind spending an extra groat more to get it available on the web in a useful form. Finally - Point Three

Deo - you are a hypocrite.

When someone posts a comment to a blog, their IP number is recorded. I looked up yours ( and you made this comment from a computer located at Accuweather -- one of the two major companies that stand to profit from Senator Santorum's odious bit of legislation.
Search results for: 

AT&T WorldNet Services WORLDNET-MIS (NET-207-242-0-0-1) 
Accuweather ACCUWEATHER-93 (NET-207-242-93-0-1) 
Your post was not from a regular reader, you were trolling the web, looking for posts referring to Santorum / Accuweather and posting "reasonable sounding" comments in favor of the bill masquerading as a casual blog reader. FOAD Deo... Posted by DaveH at April 22, 2005 6:33 PM | TrackBack

I commented on that other post without having seen this one. Somehow what you discovered about Deo doesn't surprise me.

Posted by: McGehee at April 25, 2005 5:26 AM