US Government shuts down the waves

Stu Nettle
Surfpolitik

Obamacare will lead to less crowded surf...maybe.

In news that will delight grizzled surf purists the world over, the United States budget debacle may shutdown weather prediction services, including every automated surf forecast that relies on them.

In a worst case scenario we'll find out if the old axiom is true: surf forecasting causes crowding in the surf.

Now in its third day, the US government standoff has forced state departments to wind down many of its operations. All public service employees have been deemed essential or non-essential with the latter being given a sudden holiday. Best they don't visit a National Park though – every single park in the US is closed as they're run by other non-essential employees.

One of the less visible services provided by the US government is weather analysis and prediction. The core data is produced by NOAA (National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration) which is then used by 99% of surf forecasting sites.

As of today the NOAA website shows this message: "Due to the Federal Government shutdown, NOAA.gov and most associated web sites are unavailable. This site will remain accessible during the federal government shutdown. However, information on the site may not be up to date and we may not be able to respond to inquiries until appropriations are enacted."

What this means is that NOAA's systems will run as normal but if there is a technical problem – which happens frequently – there is no-one available to fix it. If that scenario comes to pass then subsequent departments and companies that rely on NOAA's data will be affected. Amongst them are:

The Climate Prediction Center The Ocean Prediction Center NCEP Central Operations Weather Prediction Center National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) The NCEP Climate Forecast System Aviation Weather Center: AWC NOAA National Weather Service

Of course, there's also the many automated surf forecasting websites that will be adversely affected: Surfline, Magic Seaweed, Buoyweather, Windguru, all will stop updating their forecasts if NOAA goes down. No more up-to-the-minute forecasts. It's also worth noting that wave models can take five days to get up to speed following a prolonged outage. So, if it were to stop for seven days it'd be twelve days before accurate data were again output.

Only forecasting sites that employ professional surf forecasters - such as Surfline and Swellnet - will be able to continue updating their forecasts although they'll be restricted to manual forecasts. Also, the unavailability of NCEP weather data could impact the reliability of the forecasts due to the loss of cross-reference forecasting products.

All of a sudden the US government balls-up just got a whole lot more interesting.

Comments

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 4 Oct 2013 at 2:10pm

Almost every private weather forecasting company is in the same boat too (been speaking with Weatherzone about this). It's very hard to envisage a contingency plan for this kind of scenario!

redsands's picture
redsands's picture
redsands commented Friday, 4 Oct 2013 at 2:13pm

No money for this but plenty to got to Syria if need be.Back to the newspaper synoptic.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 4 Oct 2013 at 2:20pm

Which way do low pressure systems spin?

fitzroy-21's picture
fitzroy-21's picture
fitzroy-21 commented Friday, 4 Oct 2013 at 2:25pm

Depends where you are Stu. East or west coast?

redsands's picture
redsands's picture
redsands commented Friday, 4 Oct 2013 at 2:36pm

Stu,is that question aimed at me or what?

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 4 Oct 2013 at 2:37pm

Nah Redsands, I know you know your stuff. Just a throwaway comment about rushing out to learn the basics now the convenience may be taken away...

redsands's picture
redsands's picture
redsands commented Friday, 4 Oct 2013 at 2:41pm

Cool,thought you were having a go then.
I would of thought that maintaining any instrument relating to weather and it's effects in this world of 7 billion people would almost be priority number one.But then again half that run it don't believe in science.

zephatalien's picture
zephatalien's picture
zephatalien commented Friday, 4 Oct 2013 at 2:50pm

Aaaahaha, wicked. Next stop, anarchy! Nah, its happened before and is the sign of a prolonged, dying cough from the modern aged super power. The red dragon awakens, hopefully China doesn't go all crazy in the next few decades and invade Australia! o_O

Zeph

carpetman's picture
carpetman's picture
carpetman commented Friday, 4 Oct 2013 at 2:54pm

Would have been pretty epic if went down a few days ago. MSW might have had a bit of trouble forecasting for the pro.

doom's picture
doom's picture
doom commented Friday, 4 Oct 2013 at 6:22pm

Redsands, you are a jerk.

scotmond's picture
scotmond's picture
scotmond commented Friday, 4 Oct 2013 at 7:12pm

What an amazing outcome from the US Gov't drama's, who would have thought ?

Trouble is the people who rely on these services may well now learn how to read a weather map, might be more crowded more frequently.

Any work on when or if it will be back up and running?

southey's picture
southey's picture
southey commented Friday, 4 Oct 2013 at 8:34pm

scotmond .... if only it was that easy ... It usually takes 5-10 years and counting to learn directly from synoptics to swell sizes and directional , period etc etc .....

Do you think ya website was never destined to make the Upgrade BEN ??!!!

can you quickly change al your in house modeling to work of any if at all raw Data from ECMWF or JAMSTEC , or is wher you come clean and say that most data all comes from the WW3 data as opposed to raw GFS data .?!!

I hope ( not for this sites downfall ) but everyone else that can still look at a weather map , that this drags on a little longer ........ Unfortunatley I'm tipping China doens't really have the interest in silly things like weather forecasting when they are too busy creating it and trying to dominate the world from the inside out ....
Will be interesting to see how the Japanese go without the US for the JTWC warning maps and texts . ?!!!

" SA's Reserve Capacity "

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 4 Oct 2013 at 8:42pm

southey, the lovely folk at ECMWF (and UKMet) want somewhere in the vicinity of a quarter of a million dollars per year in data access fees for their sterling model output, for what the US government provides for free. So at this point in time, it's a little out of our reach.

That said (and without going into too much detail), we do have a backup system in place for the new site.

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Friday, 4 Oct 2013 at 8:50pm

Given the consequences for other services that rely on accurate forecasts I can't see that they will let the system go down more than briefly......but then again it is the US, a nation not exactly renowned for logical thinking and rational policy.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 4 Oct 2013 at 9:01pm

They're obviously maintain core services (ie US weather forecasts, aviation services etc) however surf forecasting sites (like Swellnet) receive data feeds from low priority servers, which won't be restarted if they go down for some reason.

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Friday, 4 Oct 2013 at 9:03pm

What about shipping Ben? They would need at least a basic swell prediction I would think.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 4 Oct 2013 at 9:14pm

BB, all weather model data is currently running. The article is hypothesising about what would happen if the models went offline (as happens on a regular basis).

However is you read the latest announcement from NOMADS (one of the NCEP's server sources), it says (note the last line):

---
01OCT2013
"I sincerely regret this inconvenience ..." is the last line from the official gov't shutdown planning sheet sent to all hands.
The development nomad servers
nomad1.ncep.noaa.gov
nomad3.ncep.noaa.gov
nomad5.ncep.noaa.gov
will be running during the shutdown but there will be no one to check on them. Thus,they may not be running and the dataflow to them may not be complete. However, the official nomads.ncep.noaa.gov NCWCP servers will be up 24/7, attended with exceptional employees.
---

Not sure if you're following the developments in the States, however some governmental employees are required to keep working during the US Governmental Shutdown, but are not being paid for their time. I presume these are the "exceptional employees" referred to in the NOMADS bulletin.

southey's picture
southey's picture
southey commented Friday, 4 Oct 2013 at 9:20pm

Ben ,
What about YR. NO , or what ever is that Norwegian site ? they allow free access to ECMWF !?

Or you could just Ramp up the Ads' ..... as long as you left a small area in the centre of the page free of ads you could afford atleast one year on EC .

" SA's Reserve Capacity "

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 4 Oct 2013 at 9:37pm

southey, it's a no-go (already investigated a long time ago). They receive EC data and - as per any other client - are not allowed to redistribute (also, being the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, they have slightly more flexible terms for data display). There's a few other global sites that have EC data available too.

Re: ads - you're speculating as to how much money online advertising makes.

bushido's picture
bushido's picture
bushido commented Friday, 4 Oct 2013 at 10:36pm

I don't give zero shits about pressure systems and synoptic charts, I find meteorology chronically boring.
Unless you're sponsored by red bull chasing code red Tahiti swells it's nothing but a wank.

Losing the surf reports is a mild inconvience but if anything I'll probably be surfing more now.
If I'm going to the trouble of clearing my schedule for an hour or two and actually driving to the beach to check I'll surf even if it's lame and gutless.

No surprise the US government have found a new avenue to display their incompetence.
I haven't got one positive thing to say about their government, I think it's best left at that.

redsands's picture
redsands's picture
redsands commented Saturday, 5 Oct 2013 at 8:33am

G'day Yank.It's called "Wank" mate.

fitzroy-21's picture
fitzroy-21's picture
fitzroy-21 commented Saturday, 5 Oct 2013 at 9:22am

The ability to read a synoptic chart with my line of work is a must. To be able to back that up with HF radio reports and internet models is a bonus.

The thing I love about this site is all the additional learnings that I get in the finer details.

scotmond's picture
scotmond's picture
scotmond commented Saturday, 5 Oct 2013 at 1:07pm

Southey,

Gee I didn't mean reading the synoptic chart to expertly predict exact information, more the basic stuff on how to see when there will be swell, good chance of favourable conditions and so on...

Picked that up quite quickly, though maybe I was lucky.

Fitz - so you get to read synoptics charts as a job, lucky you. Though it must be hard to read them when its shows it will be pumping tomorrow, an you have to go to work the next day.

I used to work at Cronulla, and had to drive past the Alley, Point, Island, Windy and Shoes to get to work. That was a very very very hard drive if it was four foot and offshore.

fitzroy-21's picture
fitzroy-21's picture
fitzroy-21 commented Saturday, 5 Oct 2013 at 1:21pm

@Scotmond, I work as a skipper so I sometimes have the luxury of making sure I work near the reefs that will be working for the swell. The tricky part is the wind.

Sorry, trying not to gloat, but it's the perks of the job. I just try to keep learning and getting more info so that I get better at it. The info all this crew put out (Ben, Craig, Don, Southey etc) is invaluable.

Back on topic, with the US gov on this track at the moment, even though it probably won't last long, it's a bit of a worry with the wet season coming upon us. Warm water and low pressure systems..........

z-man's picture
z-man's picture
z-man commented Friday, 11 Oct 2013 at 2:12am

You should see the Smokey the Bear cartoon! I forgot, and it is too difficult to download fotos on this site (please fix Stu/Craig)
the cartoon says:
REMEMBER
STAY THE HELL OUT OF YOUR PARKS AND MONUMENTS UNDER PENALTY OF PRISON!!!

Smokey is wearing his 'Ranger' hat with an Obama logo and sporting a Hitler-esque moustache.

Quite clever. If you want to see it go to my FB page - Zeno Malan

my signature

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 11 Oct 2013 at 8:32am

Z-Man! Where you been?!

Will check out the cartoon...

yorkessurfer's picture
yorkessurfer's picture
yorkessurfer commented Friday, 11 Oct 2013 at 8:38am

The nerve of that guy Obama. He wins the election on the platform of bringing in Obamacare, gets it through both houses of congress, it survives a Supreme Court challenge and he thinks he has some kind of a mandate?
Who does he think he is, The President of the United States or something?
Good on the Republicans for attempting to destroy the American economy if they don't get their way!
Yeah Hitler z-man I can see the comparison?

lukerips's picture
lukerips's picture
lukerips commented Friday, 11 Oct 2013 at 1:56pm

Does this mean the Aussie BOM won't have it's Interactive Weather and Wave Forecast Maps?

Profile pic is where I witnessed 70 Afghan asylum seekers on their way to Oz out front of my secret left in Java.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Friday, 11 Oct 2013 at 2:07pm

The BOM use their own ACCESS model for the wave forecast charts/maps so no, if the GFS data stopped they would be fine.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Friday, 11 Oct 2013 at 3:37pm

Very interesting! Over the last month I've been trying to live without website/surfsite swell prediction - just the BOM 4 day chart, or modern equivalent. Now a lot of others get to, as well!

It put a bit of the 'romance' back into surfing inasmuch as you didn't know exactly what you were going to get. My eyes got good at scanning for those close together lines SW of our continent. It detracted from the comfortable predictability of having a reliable forecast (thanks, guys) to base your working week and surfing time off. Overall, we can live without, but we can achieve so much more with.

And YS, they are 17 Trillion in debt. Heading toward the deadly 90% Debt:GDP level. Something's gotta give...

z-man's picture
z-man's picture
z-man commented Friday, 11 Oct 2013 at 8:31pm

Hey Stu! I've been to Peru and Costa Rica and Indo too. Would you post directions how to use photobucket to post photos on this site - again? I am extremely, 'directions' challenged but I got some good photos. Maybe a tab on the home page with a "walk-thru" for simpletons like myself?

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z-man's picture
z-man's picture
z-man commented Friday, 11 Oct 2013 at 8:41pm

@ yorkessurfer; - caught the sarcasm - you'd be surprised how many would agree comprehensively with your dissertation! - ever hear the word 'cronyism' ?

foul play not only applies to sports!

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z-man's picture
z-man's picture
z-man commented Friday, 11 Oct 2013 at 8:49pm

/Users/zenomalan/Desktop/SMOKEY 1-thumb-600xauto-4172.jpg

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yorkessurfer's picture
yorkessurfer's picture
yorkessurfer commented Saturday, 12 Oct 2013 at 11:51am

cronyism- is that where the most incompetent president in US history got there on the coat tails of his former president father? Oh no that's nepotism right?

Cronyism is where you make Dick Cheney formerly of the Halliburton Corporation your Vice President and after you start an illegitimate war based on a lie award the multi billion dollar defence contracts to Halliburton? That's cronyism right?
Obama inherited a real shit sandwich from the last time the Republicans were in power.
The majority of Americans know this and haven't forgotton!

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Saturday, 12 Oct 2013 at 1:09pm

What optimism! I mean the majority of Americans don't even vote last time I checked the stats and I wouldn't be confident of their general knowledge extending much beyond the location of the nearest burger joint and as for their memory.....Bush pere et fils?

yorkessurfer's picture
yorkessurfer's picture
yorkessurfer commented Saturday, 12 Oct 2013 at 3:58pm

I should have said the majority of Americans who bothered to vote haven't forgotton the Bush era.
Obama won the election after all, much to z-man's disappointment and despite the rigged Faux News polls saying Romney was gonna win it. So maybe they are not as stupid as you think BB?
Unlike Australia who lapped up Murdochs bullshit!
$2.5 trillion dollars spent on a decade of dubious wars but no universal healthcare(US was the only westernised country not to have this) and millions of homeless people living on the streets or in their cars. The American Dream?

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Saturday, 12 Oct 2013 at 4:43pm

They managed to have, simultaneously, record homelessness and record numbers of empty repossessed houses. Then consider the effect the US demand for drugs has had on Mexico, then that more Americans have been murdered by guns since the Kennedy assasination than have died in all the wars in their history, from the War of Independence to Afghanistan, then the minimum wage laws that deny workers self respect and keep them in poverty and so on.....
If it was anywhere else the international community would be demanding humanitarian intervention. It is a dysfunctional society, nothing can save it now.
Australia has its faults mainly apathy in the face of affluence and maybe, in time, that will lead to something like the social disintegration that exists right now in the US but personally, I don't think Australians are that passive, there would a friggin' revolution if any government tried to introduce US social policies here.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Saturday, 12 Oct 2013 at 7:56pm

"Having seen the people of all other nations bowed down to the earth under the wars and prodigalities of their rulers, I have cherished their opposites, peace, economy, and riddance of public debt, believing that these were the high road to public as well as private prosperity and happiness." -Thomas Jefferson

yorkessurfer's picture
yorkessurfer's picture
yorkessurfer commented Saturday, 12 Oct 2013 at 9:48pm

Thomas Jefferson was a true believer in The American Dream and seemed to be able to see the future when he said
"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous than standing armies...
If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of currency... the banks and CORPORATIONS that grow up around them will deprive the people of their property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered"
Visionary!

yorkessurfer's picture
yorkessurfer's picture
yorkessurfer commented Sunday, 13 Oct 2013 at 10:03pm

Here's an article that looks at the motives behind the US Government shut down by the Republicans and their billionaire backers......

http://www.independentaustralia.net/2013/international/the-u-s-shutdown-...

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Monday, 14 Oct 2013 at 6:12pm

...and here is a longer term, rather more considered point of view.
http://www.laphamsquarterly.org/preamble/kingdom-come.php?page=1

the-roller's picture
the-roller's picture
the-roller commented Tuesday, 15 Oct 2013 at 7:07am

How can it be deemed a "government shutdown" when it's only 17% of Federal government employees, (who barely put in a days honest work while on the clock), are still getting fully paid for not working?

http://takimag.com/article/rise_of_the_sugar_babies_nicholas_james_pell/...

On a second, more important note, seems Chopper Reid has finally hardened the fuk up..... rigamortis style.

http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/mark-brandon-chopper-read-dies-at-age-...

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Tuesday, 10 Dec 2013 at 7:43am

Just seen this notice on one of the NDBC pages:

"The NOAA National Data Buoy Center has deferred annual maintenance for buoys and C-MAN stations until further notice. We hope to resume maintenance of the coastal and offshore weather buoys and C-MAN network next year, pending adequate funding in FY14."

I wonder if this is related to the shutdown, or whether it's common for these kinds of government programs?

southey's picture
southey's picture
southey commented Wednesday, 11 Dec 2013 at 12:38am

i wonder if this effects the Argo floats ? ( i mean TAO / Triton ) ...... and other NOAA climate / oceanography SUB surface temp. data . .
The critical areas for ENSO often see Pirates take out buoys for scrap . I presume this funding shortage will see lack of reliable information going forward .!????

" SA's Reserve Capacity "

the-roller's picture
the-roller's picture
the-roller commented Wednesday, 11 Dec 2013 at 11:28am

Contrary to the author's attempt at bundling bullshite, the US government did no such thing.

But, someone else's politicians sure did.

http://www.surfermag.com/features/reunion-island-bans-surfing/