Some Call Weather Service Cuts Dangerous 2-22-2011 - WSMV Channel 4

Some Call Weather Service Cuts Dangerous 2-22-2011

Reported by Josh DeVine
NASHVILLE, Tenn.
In severe weather, seconds count. But a push to save money might wind up putting the public's safety at risk.

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There's a plan to cut the budget for the National Weather Service by about 30 percent. Some consider the proposed cuts downright dangerous.
At Old Hickory Lake, Brian Johnson couldn't help but get outside and enjoy Tuesday's sun.
"I love metal detecting, and the weather's beautiful today," said Johnson. "Sometimes you get lucky. I would guess it's in the 50s today."
There's no guessing at the National Weather Service's office in Nashville; it watches the weather non-stop. But a spending plan in Washington might change that.
The House approved a plan that would cut funding by almost 30 percent.
"These are the most drastic cuts I've ever seen to the National Weather Service, and why the National Weather Service has been singled out for these cuts, I have no idea," said Dan Sobien, president of the NWS Employees Organization.
The plan might include rolling short-term office closures nationwide, staff furloughs and cutting back on daily observations.
"I think somewhere around the country -- it might not be in Nashville -- but somewhere across the country, someone's going to die because of this," said Sobien.
Lisa Spencer and the Channel 4 Pinpoint Weather Team use the NWS data daily, and less of it might make for a tougher job.
"We make our own forecasts, but we do use the information they supply," said Spencer. "It's essential to have accurate data because that's what the models that we use to help guide us in our forecasts, that's what those models use. They use current data to go into the future, so it's very important that we have accurate data, and as much data as possible."
Johnson agrees, and he's no scientist -- just a man who wants the best heads-up when it matters most.
"We don't need to cut the programs on that because, you know, a lot of people could get hurt if we're not informed of what's going on and aware of what's coming onto us, where we can take shelter," said Johnson. "We can get in a lot of trouble, you know."
This is just part of the budget process, and President Barack Obama has said he doesn't like the idea. His administration's statement reads in part, "The bill proposes cuts that would sharply undermine core government functions."
The president hinted he would veto the bill if it passes with the proposed cuts.

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