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Jindaled: Noem Cuts Tsunami Warning Funds

Like the formidable Ms. Flint, I hesitate to connect tsunamis and climate change. I wish Congresswoman Kristi Noem shared our hesitance. The South Dakota freshwoman voted last month to cut 28% from the National Weather Service budget, imperiling the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center:

The union representing National Weather Service workers says budget cuts proposed by the U.S. House of Representatives could jeopardize public safety and increase the severity of disaster losses in Hawaii.

"People could die. ... It could be serious," said Barry Hirshorn, Pacific region chairman of the National Weather Service Employees Organization.

Hirshorn said that if a continuing resolution proposed by the U.S. House is enacted — triggering a 28 percent budget cut in the second half of the fiscal year — Weather Service employees as well as those at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center could face furloughs and rolling closures.

"It would impact our ability to issue warnings," he said [Gary T. Kubota, "Cuts Could Kill, Union Says," Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 2011.02.20].

Congressional Dems argue this karmically ill-timed Noem-Boehner budget move is motivated by the GOP's climate science denial:

"Those who claim that global warming is a myth find the hard data produced by such monitoring inconvenient," Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) told the Star Advertiser. The cutback to the tsunami warning center also recalls Gov. Bobby Jindal's mockery of federal money for volcano monitoring back in 2009—just months before a volcano eruption in Iceland wreaked havoc on Europe [Suzy Khimm, "GOP Budget Cuts Target Tsunami Warning Center," Mother Jones, 2011.03.11].

Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunami (DART) stations that Rep. Kristi Noem thinks are a waste of money.. Map courtesy of NOAA.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center is a valuable NOAA project. It saves money by reducing false alarms. It saves lives by providing timely alarms, like those last Friday. Now that the GOP has proved its Jindalesque prescience extends to tsunamis, it's time for Kristi to put down the cocktails, go back to Washington, and put back the vital funding for the National Weather Service to gather its live-saving data.


  1. David Bice 2011.03.14

    This bill would not only make cuts to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, but to local National Weather Service offices as well, which impact those of us who live in areas not directly affected by a Tsunami! Even a few minutes of delay in issuance of a Tornado Warning could be a matter of life or death!

    I urge everyone to contact their Senator and urge them to support the Senate’s proposal for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) budget!!!

    Here is the letter I submitted…

    Dear Senator,

    I am writing to ask you both to support the Senate’s proposal for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) budget. This proposal will help NOAA and the National Weather Service continue the assist my agency in our mission to save lives and property.

    Reducing staffing at Weather Forecast Offices and River Forecast Centers would result in incomplete forecast production which could prove disastrous in a significant weather event. As we are currently fighting our second flood within the past eight days, with up to two more inches of rain expected tonight and tomorrow, I rely heavily on forecasts provided by these offices and cannot do my job without them!

    Service backup of 24 Weather Forecasting Offices has never been tested and runs a very significant risk of a missed tornado, flood or severe weather warning. This would double the area of responsibility for operations and adds the risk of degraded service delivery. With the onset of tornado season, this is a risk we should not take!

    Information that is vital for weather modeling and accurate tornado watches and warnings will be reduced and in some cases lost. Reduced upper air observations currently made twice a day could be reduced to once every other day. Buoy and surface weather observations, the backbone of most of the weather and warning systems, may be temporarily or permanently discontinued.

    For the safety of our citizens and the protection of property, I am asking you to vote in support the Senate’s proposal for NOAA’s budget.

    Thank you for your time and the hard work that you do. It is very much appreciated!


    R. David Bice
    Executive Director
    Hamilton County Emergency Management Agency (Indiana)

  2. moses 2011.03.14

    C.H. tells it like it isNO will vote for self interests but not to take care of struggling families else where. C.H. keep up the good work.

  3. mike 2011.03.14

    Hard to see how even a disaster on the coasts would hurt Noem though. I'm sure she will cut anything but her own wallet that sucks in farm and ethanol subsidies.

  4. Miranda Flint 2011.03.15

    Cory: Thanks for the mention! Were the cuts Noem endorsed specifically cuts to emergency preparedness or relief? If not, might the National Weather Service not cut elsewhere? Does the NWS have any discretion? Also, you mention that the cuts might affect the Tsunami Warning Center. I am not particularly knowledgeable in these matters, so I may be way off base here, but several figures in the news have stated that it is impossible to predict Tsunamis ( One scientist said we could only predict them 15 seconds before they occurred. Now, maybe these fellows are wrong and maybe it's a mistake of me to put stock in what they say. But if they are right - is an extra 15 seconds worth the cost of running a Tsunami Warning Center?

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.03.15

    Good grief, Miranda! Read Mr. Bice's letter above. Check your daily forecast, tune into your weather radio for storm warnings, then feel free to identify which 30% of the National Weather Service is wasting tax dollars.

    Tsunamis: the folks in Hawaii and on the Canadian and US West Coast got hours of warning to tie up their boats and clear the shoreline. Those hours, even minutes, can save lives. Tax dollars well spent.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.03.15

    Awesome flood map, Larry! But USGS can pick up the tab for that one. (Noem isn't cutting USGS too, is she?)

  7. bruce 2011.03.16

    The point everyone seems to be missing was the attempt during the Bush Administration to shut down government owned NOAA in favor of private ownership. The Bush crowd may have lost the battle then but are intent on winning the war.

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