Web Based Free Aviation Wx Under Threat

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Making Users Pay

The National Weather Service (NWS) would be restricted from offering any products to the public that are or could be provided by the commercial weather industry, under legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate recently by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.). The “National Weather Services Duties Act of 2005” would “modernize the description of the National Weather Service’s roles within the national weather enterprise,” Santorum said, and essentially it would yank the popular NWS Web site off the Internet. The bill already has attracted opposition among those who value NWS products. “The weather service proved so instrumental and popular and helpful in the wake of the hurricanes. How can you make an argument that we should pull it off the Net now?” said Dan McLaughlin, spokesman for Sen. Bill Nelson, (D-Fla.), in The Palm Beach Post. “What are you going to do, charge hurricane victims to go online, or give them a pop-up ad?”

…As Providers Seek Payment For Service

The effort seems to be driven by the NWS’s recently revamped Web site, which makes weather data more easily available. AccuWeather, a private weather provider based in Pennsylvania, has been critical of the NWS and supportive of the bill to change it. AccuWeather spokesman Barry Myers told the Post the bill would improve public safety by making the weather service devote its efforts to hurricanes, tsunamis and other dangers, rather than duplicating products already available from the private sector. But NWS spokesman Ed Johnson said it doesn’t work that way. “If someone claims that our core mission is just warning the public of hazardous conditions, that’s really impossible unless we forecast the weather all the time. You don’t just plug in your clock when you want to know what time it is.”

Source: AVWEB