Hurricane Myth vs. Fact
Funding for the National Hurricane Center (NHC) has been cut.
- The NHC budget
has increased 37 percent from $4.6 million in FY 03 to $6.3 million
in FY 07. The FY 2007 budget represents an increase of over 10 percent
from the FY 06 allocation including funding for four senior-level hurricane
forecasters who have been added to NHC staff.
- The weather warning
and forecast program is a clearly stated budget priority for NOAA. NOAA
invests over $300 million per year for hurricane research and forecasting.
Since FY 2005, the Administration has added over $40 million in additional
resources to sustain and improve hurricane warnings and forecasts. The
FY 08 President’s Budget for NOAA includes over $10 million in
program increases for our hurricane program.
NOAA cut $700,000 from hurricane research programs.
FACT: NOAA Hurricane Research Program funding remains
consistent with FY 06 funding levels. Funding for one program, the Joint
Hurricane Testbed, was reallocated to a higher priority hurricane research
project, an updated Hurricane Forecast Model (H-WRF) which will improve
hurricane intensity and rainfall forecasts this year.
NOAA does not have a plan to replace QuikSCAT.
FACT: QuikSCAT is a NASA research satellite whose importance
to hurricane forecasting was validated over several years after its launch
in 1999. In 2006, NOAA convened a workshop of internal and external experts
to study this issue; they recommended that NOAA develop a plan to replace
QuikSCAT capability. As a result, a technical review group is preparing
to recommend options for replacing QuikSCAT data. In the meantime, we
are working with other U.S. and European satellites to ensure the continuity
of QuickSCAT data.
If QuikSCAT fails, hurricane forecasters will be “blind.”
FACT: Wrong. While QuikSCAT provides important data that
may reduce some of the uncertainty of our hurricane track forecast, forecasters
have access to other observations of tropical storms. The primary hurricane
monitoring satellite, GOES-12, is fully operational, with a back-up on
orbit. In addition, polar orbiting satellites remain continuously operational
with ground backup. These satellites are more essential to hurricane forecasting
than QuikSCAT and are top priority. Satellite data is used in combination
with hurricane buoys, hurricane hunter aircraft, air-borne Doppler radar,
dropwindsondes, and the experience and skill of NOAA’s forecasters
to predict tropical storm impacts.
If we lose QuikSCAT data, more lives will be put at risk during a hurricane.
FACT: Absolutely not. NOAA’s number one priority
is to protect lives. In certain circumstances, QuikSCAT data has helped
refine the accuracy of hurricane track forecasts. The loss of QuikSCAT
data could potentially increase the size of the warned area. However,
data from aircraft are considered most critical for forecasting landfalling
NOAA is spending millions on a 200th anniversary “celebration”
instead of funding hurricane research priorities.
FACT: The 200th program is part of NOAA’s normal
outreach activities run every year to provide people with information
about the services NOAA offers that can saves lives and property, protect
natural resources and benefit the economy. Because of other funding priorities,
NOAA’s National Weather Service did not contribute funds to this
outreach and education program.
For more information contact the NOAA
Office of Communications at (202) 482-6090 or visit our Web site at
NOAA Public Affairs
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Updated July 2007