Captain Arrrgh, your Senator is again up to no good. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) wants to ban the National Weather Service from putting up free weather reports and forecasts on the web because that would be bad for the commercial weather companies, like State College-based Accuweather.
Do you want a seven-day weather forecast for your ZIP code? Or hour-by-hour predictions of the temperature, wind speed, humidity and chance of rain? Or weather data beamed to your cellphone?
That information is available for free from the National Weather Service.
But under a bill pending in the U.S. Senate, it might all disappear.
The bill, introduced last week by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., would prohibit federal meteorologists from competing with companies such as AccuWeather and The Weather Channel, which offer their own forecasts through paid services and free ad-supported Web sites.
Supporters say the bill wouldn’t hamper the weather service or the National Hurricane Center from alerting the public to hazards — in fact, it exempts forecasts meant to protect “life and property.”
But how would the NOAA issue weather warnings if it doesn’t collect any weather data and run forecast models? And if it is doing all that, then why shouldn’t it be able to make it available to the public?
I use the National Weather Service XML feeds to put the current weather and 2-day forecast of Atlanta on the sidebar on the blog main page. That is a very useful and free service and I don’t know of anything comparable from The Weather Channel or AccuWeather.