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  #1  
Old 04-25-2005
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Severe Weather Alert !!!

U.S. Senator Rick Santorum has introduced a bill (S. 786) which would prevent the National Weather Service [ www.nws.noaa.gov ]from distributing free weather data[/b] because it hinders similar, for-profit offerings from commercial entities like The Weather Channel, Accuweather, etc.
For more information Goto:
http://cruisersforum.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=1779
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  #2  
Old 04-25-2005
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Sailormon6 will become famous soon enough
Severe Weather Alert !!!

Before anyone gets too excited about this post, you should be aware that the bill does not prohibit the National Weather Service from preparing and issuing "severe weather warnings and forecasts designed for the protection of life and property of the general public." On the contrary, the bill expressly requires the National Weather Service to continue to issue severe weather warnings and forecasts.

This bill only prohibits the National Weather Service from preparing graphics and displays such as are used routinely by television broadcasters to illustrate commercially televised weather reports. I don''t know why our tax money should be used to prepare and provide art work for television stations that they can and should pay for. By prohibiting government employees from preparing such materials for free, Congress will ensure that private employees will have paying jobs doing that same work.

The bill doesn''t prevent the National Weather Service from disseminating free weather information to the public via television, radio, print media, or the web, or any other media.
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  #3  
Old 04-25-2005
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Severe Weather Alert !!!

Sailormon6:
If the NWS is (merely) prohibited from preparing and disseminating raw information, “as interpreted on GRAPHICS & DISPLAYS” - then wouldn’t that information be more or less unintelligible to the non-professional public?
I’m gratefull that the NWS currently provides important weather information, in an intelligible & useful manner.
I wouldn’t advocate eliminating the patrol functions of our public police forces, merely because a private (for profit) security enterprise COULD provide similar services. I have to agree with Ed Johnson, the weather service’s director of strategic planning and policy:
“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.”
Respectfully,
Gord May
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Old 04-25-2005
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Severe Weather Alert !!!

S786 will not prohibit the National Weather Service from using graphics and displays to disseminate weather information to the general public. We non-commercial members of the public will have the same materials available to us as we do now, and in the same eye-appealing format.

The following is the actual language of S786:

"(b) COMPETITION WITH PRIVATE SECTOR.--The National Weather Service shall not provide, or assist other entities in providing, a service or product ***(other than a service or product described in subsection (a)(1)(A))*** that is or could be provided by the private sector unless:
(1) the Secretary determines that the private sector is unwilling or unable to provide such service or product; or
(2) the United States Government is obligated to provide such service or product under international aviation agreements...."

The words that I bracketed with asterisks (***) mean that the prohibition in question does not apply to weather warnings and forecasts designed for the protection of life and property of the general public. The government will continue to provide the same information to the general public as before, and in the same format. The proposal will only stop the giveaway of taxpayer-paid services to commercial users.

You can read the full text of the bill for yourself at: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=s109-786

By comparison with most legislation, it isn''t very lengthy or complicated.
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Old 04-25-2005
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Severe Weather Alert !!!

The way I read this, the NWS would be constrained to provide only severe weather warnings and forecasts. Protection of life and property could be easily interpreted to mean information and forecasts related to severe weather -only-. The "***" you mention refers to this text, which seems pretty clear to me:

(a)(1)(A) "The preparation and issuance of severe weather warnings and forecasts designed for the protection of life and property of the general public."

I think most of the run of the mill forecasts, radar, etc. could be considered off-limits for the NWS. It''s clear Accuweather and their ilk want to be the exclusive middlemen (I smell $$) between info the NWS and NOAA produce and the general public. How about we ask Accuweather to launch their own weather satellites or pay for the ones they''re using today? Surely they don''t think it''s ok for them to make use of that data but not me?

I''m all for getting the government out of what could be provided by the private sector, but this is just a blatant power play to benefit a few weather information companies.

Dave
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Old 04-26-2005
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Severe Weather Alert !!!

The only thing this proposal will do is to restore a policy that has existed since 1991. In 1991, the National Weather Service (NWS) adopted a policy to not provide products or services that were or could be provided by the commercial weather industry. That policy continued in effect until December, 2004, when NOAA (the parent agency of the NWS) repealed it.

My guess is that we recreational sailors were so completely unaffected by the change when it was adopted in 1991 that we didn''t even notice it, and that we likewise didn''t notice anything different when the policy was repealed in December, 2004. The reason why it doesn''t affect us is because it is only intended to affect commercial users of weather information, not recreational sailors.

Since 1991, while this rule was in effect, we recreational sailors have enjoyed free weather services, illustrated with graphics designed to make the information more meaningful.

I think commercial users ought to pay for their weather services. They can afford to pay. It''s part of their business. I don''t think we little recreational guys should have to pay for it. We don''t profit from it financially, and, for most of us, the expense of owning a boat is already something of a burden.

I intend to write to my congressman about this bill, and I thank Gordy for bringing it to our attention, but I don''t think we should oppose the proposal in it''s entirety, because it has features that I fully support. I will tell my congressman that I would strenuously oppose the bill if it will affect or limit or change in any way the free access that recreational users have to the same quality of weather services as are presently provided, but that I would support the bill insofar as it requires commercial users to obtain their weather services from commercial providers.

You''ll all have to decide for yourselves what position you want to take.
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Old 05-10-2005
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Severe Weather Alert !!!

How many of us were busy using the internet in 1991? Making Accuweather the sole arbiter of what information we should have does not sound like us getting what we (the taxpayers) have paid for. The NWS position on this issue is pretty clear. To paraphrase the head of the NWS: You have to know about all the weather in order to tell when some of it might be severe. It''s sure nice on a summer weekend, right up to when the thundercloud forms. The NWS should only be able to alert us when the thundercloud shows up on the radar? Don''t think so.

Accuweather may not charge for generic weather reports on the internet now, but what happens when they''re the only show in town? Will it take ten minutes of pop-up ads for suntan lotion or chapstick, or bathing suits, or ski clothes, before we can find out what we want to know? If we have paid for this information that the government is now providing directly to us, why do we need Accuweather to prevent them from doing this? Should we have Fedex prevent the Post office from delivering mail, because they want to make money doing the same thing?
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Old 05-11-2005
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Severe Weather Alert !!!

Under Section 2(a), the bill imposes five general duties and responsibilities on the NWS. Only the duties conferred on the NWS by the first subsection of the bill [subsection 2(a)(1)] apply only to "severe weather." The duties and responsibilities conferred by the other four subsections are not limited to "severe weather."

Subsection 2(a)(2) requires the NWS to "prepare and issue hydrometeorological guidance [i.e., the forecasting of precipitation (rain and hail)] and core forecast information (i.e., all the information needed to make weather forecasts)." In other words, all that information will be available to the general public at no cost in all weather conditions, not just in severe weather.

Likewise, subsection 2(a)(3) requires the NWS to "collect and exchange meteorological [the study of atmospheric conditions for the purpose of making weather forecasts], hydrological [the study of the control and characteristics of water], climatic [the sum of the prevailing weather conditions over a period of time], and oceanographic [the study of the ocean] data and information." All this information will also be available to the general public at no cost in all weather conditions, not just in severe weather.

In short, if the bill passes, the general public will have complete and free access to hydrometeorological guidance, core forecast information, meteorological, hydrological, climatic, and oceanographic data.

Thus, the bill expressly requires that the NWS provide weather forecasts, wave heights and frequencies, radar data, buoy data, climate data, short and long range forecasts, etc., not just in severe weather conditions, but in all conditions.

I don''t see anything in the bill that suggests that the general public will have any less information available to it than we do at this time.

The part of the Bill that requires users to obtain their weather data from commercial providers expressly excludes all the products or services described in subsection (a)(1), which is all the data that I listed above, and that is so important to us recreational users. Thus, the general public is not required to get any of its weather data from commercial providers.

People have focused on the words "severe weather" and think those words modify all the rest of the bill, but those words only modify Subsection 2(a)(1), which is the only subsection in which those words are found.

To fully understand what I''m saying you have to refer to the full text of the bill at the following website, while reading this message: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=s109-786
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  #9  
Old 05-13-2005
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Severe Weather Alert !!!

If you are saying the bill doens''t change what the NWS does, then what exactly is the bill intended to accomplish?
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