Creation of U.S. Weather Commission urged

Sept. 27, 2012 at 4:15 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- With the U.S. economy vulnerable to weather events costing billions of dollars, Congress should create a U.S. Weather Commission, an expert panel said.

The task of the commission would be to provide guidance to policymakers on leveraging weather expertise across government and the private sector to better protect lives and businesses, the National Center for Atmospheric Research reported Thursday.

The Committee on the Assessment of the National Weather Service's Modernization Program noted Congress has previously created ocean commissions for setting direction on commerce, research, and defense related to the world's oceans but there has never been a U.S. Weather Commission.

"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," Thomas Bogdan, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, said.

"Emerging technologies are providing an opportunity to create forecasts that are more accurate and detailed than ever, and to communicate them instantly to key communities and businesses.

Such a commission would ensure cost-effective spending on the nation's weather systems while minimizing the impacts of both major storms, which last year alone cost about $52 billion, and normal fluctuations in weather, which have an estimated annual economic impact of $485 billion, the panel said.

"We need a U.S. Weather Commission to ensure that our entire weather research and technology enterprise provides maximum benefit to the nation," Bogdan said.

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