Thursday, May 23, 2024

Bice, colleagues urge National Weather Service to address and plan for outages

Bice Urges the National Weather Service to Address and Plan for Outages

Washington, D.C. (May 23rd) - Today, Congresswoman Bice (R-OK) led a letter with 7 of her colleagues, to Director Kenneth Graham of the National Weather Service (NWS). The letter expresses concerns on reported outages pertaining to radar data, the Automated Surface Observing System, and transmitters of NOAA Weather Radio.  

“On multiple occurrences this year, some of NWS life-saving services, including radar data, the Automated Surface Observing System, and transmitters of NOAA Weather Radio, have been reported as nonfunctional for extended periods of time,” stated the Members. “These outages have impacted NWS Weather Forecast Offices and the public at large, removing critical tools for observation and communicating severe weather.  

The Members highlighted multiple incidents where services went down including on April 2, 2024 at the NWS data center in College Park, MD, at Weather Forecast Offices in Wakefield, VA and Dover, DE, with the Automated Surface Observing System in Rome, GA, and with the NOAA Weather Radio transmitter in Cullman, AL.  

To better understand recent NWS outages, as well as immediate and long-term solutions, the Members are requesting responses to the following questions: 

  1. What steps is NWS taking to immediately prevent future outages? What steps can only be taken if FY 25 appropriations match the President’s Budget Request?
  2. Given current funding levels, what plans, strategies, or outlooks are in place to avoid failures of services and improve resiliency? 
  3. Can NWS provide a breakdown of specific activities within the Integrated Dissemination Program and how each was funded in FY 23 and FY 24, including funding for hardware and software systems? What are specific updates that NWS has made? 
  4. NWS stated changes have been made to the automatic network backup process to ensure the system is configured to move to a backup data center in Boulder, CO. Can you describe the changes made and detail any expected threshold of failure below 100% that will trigger an automatic backup? 
  5. In regard to the implantation of a new financial system, has NWS identified any upcoming or still unpaid expenses related to weather equipment, services, or data? 
  6. If a future disaster response requires additional services or personnel, does NWS have a contingency plan to avoid a backlog of reimbursement payments? 
  7. Has the current backlog of reimbursement payments affected any contracts with private companies? 

The letter was signed by: Rep. Lucas (R-OK), Rep. Hern (R-OK), Rep. Brecheen (R-OK), Rep. Fleischmann (R-TN), Rep. Rose (R-TN), Rep. Kean (R-NJ), and Rep. D'Esposito (R-NY). 

Read the full letter here.


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