COMMENTARY | The Washington Post reported Thursday that the National Weather Service may have to furlough 5,000 workers for 13 days between July and September due to its $36 million budget deficit unless Congress can do its part to help. This predicament was aided by the way the agency mismanaged its funds in the past.
Fiscal incompetence by this agency isn't the only thing it's incompetent about. For when it comes to furloughing in general, the National Weather Service needs to "permanently furlough" the asinine way it makes severe weather announcements as well as its hyper-frequency of them.
On Thursday, my area was under various watches and warnings, including flash flood, tornado, and severe thunderstorm. While it's the job of the National Weather Service to keep us informed, the way it did so was extremely annoying.
Rather than use a text crawler on the bottom of the screen and a few beeps per announcement/update as I've witnessed in the past, the TV programs I was viewing were abruptly cut off for minutes at a time, and on some occasions as the programs were about to end. But not once did I notice an interruption as a commercial was about to begin.
But it isn't just the terrible way this government agency goes about informing people, it's also the frequency. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that an actual tornado touches down upon just one of every four tornado warnings in the country, which contributes to public complacency, leading to more casualties when actual tornado activity occurs.
The Washington Post article mentioned a 2009 study in Weather, Climate, and Society that stated, "tornadoes that occur in an area with a higher false-alarm ratio kill and injure more people, everything else being constant."
When a government agency over-hypes its public safety warnings and abruptly cuts broadcasts as the last shot of ballgame or climatic ending to a TV show or movie is about to happen, it's going too far, especially when there are better ways to handle the situation.
How many of those surveyed by Gallup in September thought about the National Weather Service's incompetence when they were asked about how much trust and confidence in the federal government they had? For 57 percent of the people surveyed answered either "not very much" or "none at all."
If I'm ever asked this question by Gallup, I'll sure be thinking about this agency.