From: Allison Winter, ENN
Published September 28, 2012 02:55 PM

Experts Hope to Establish Congressional Weather Commission

From energy freedom to ocean policy focusing on commerce, research, and defense, Congress has appointed a variety of environmental-based commissions in the past two decades. However, one issue that has yet to be addressed is weather—that is until now.

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Experts are asking Congress to create the first US Weather Commission. This commission would offer guidance of their weather expertise to policy makers who would then be able to make more efficient decisions when it comes to weather-related issues.

"The nation must focus its weather resources on the areas of greatest need in order to keep our economy competitive and provide maximum protection of lives and property," says Thomas Bogdan, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.

It comes down to the fact that better forecasting will save lives and save money. Right now the private, public, and academic sectors all have their own prerogatives. If these sectors came together, under the guidance of a government-based commission, the sectors would be able share responsibilities and data.

The goal would be to ensure cost-effective spending on the nation’s weather systems while minimizing the impacts of both major storms. From hurricanes to hail storms, droughts and floods, weather related events cost about $52 billion last year alone. Also, normal fluctuations in weather, like the changing of seasons have an estimated annual economic impact of $485 billion. The costs associated with weather range from delays with construction and transportation to salting icy streets and cleaning up natural disasters.

While we physically cannot control weather patterns, experts can advise populations on how to minimize the impacts of major storms.

While it may be a challenge to convince Washington to spend money to create this commission, experts will argue that investments made in weather actually have a return with not only providing jobs, but saving money in the long run by minimizing disaster impacts.

The commission would also advise on new technology investments like satellite and radar systems, while highlighting vulnerable communities, and prioritizing research matters.

"Weather is immeasurably important to public safety and our economic competitiveness," says Pam Emch, a senior staff engineer/scientist with Northrop Grumman Corporation and one of the panelists. "Effective organization of the diverse entities that span our weather enterprise is necessary for economic stability, innovation, and the good of the nation."

Today's panel briefing is the first step in a process in an effort to brief and convince Congress on the importance of the commission and the role it will play.

Read more at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

Weather words image via Shutterstock.

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