Foster blames lack of funds for U.S. forecast errors on Joaquin's path, effects
U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-Dist. 11) spoke on the floor of the House on Friday about the failure of U.S. weather-forecasting agencies to correctly predict the path of Hurricane Joaquin last week and the real-life consequences of under-investing in scientific research and development.
"Our system, the GFS (Global Forecast System), predicted that Joaquin would hit the Mid-Atlantic states, while the European model correctly predicted that it would remain at sea," Foster said. "Nobody predicted the severity of the flooding that would hit South Carolina. This wasn’t the first time that our predictions have missed the mark. Three years ago, we failed to predict the path of Hurricane Sandy, while the European model correctly identified that it would be a direct and devastating hit on New Jersey. After Sandy, we invested somewhat more money into the computing ability of the National Weather Service, but as Joaquin has shown, it was too little too late."
Foster also said the economic costs of unnecessary evacuations are real and pressing.
"Scientific research requires a steady investment of time and talent to be successful," Foster said. "ff we continue to under-invest in essential infrastructure like weather forecasting, we do it at our own peril. I urge my colleagues to heed this warning and to start taking seriously the long-term investments that our R&D infrastructure requires."
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