Schumer seeks extreme-weather website

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) addresses a news U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) addresses a news conference in Washington. (July 25, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Sen. Charles Schumer urged the federal government Wednesday to create an Internet portal that would be the single authority for warnings about extreme weather, like superstorm Sandy.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the government agency that has oversight over weather forecasting, said in a post-Sandy analysis last week that it was considering the creation of such a site, perhaps calling it "storm.gov."

The agency's review concluded that Web pages of one of its entities, the Weather Forecast Office, "did not effectively highlight the seriousness of the impending storm," while another arm, the National Weather Service, needed to "make its websites more user-friendly."

Schumer, a New York Democrat, commended the work NOAA did in the days leading up to Sandy in October, but he said "their report indicates we have room for improvement when it comes to keeping everyone in the know during these dangerous storms."

The senator's proposal also calls for a NOAA app for smartphones and tablets that would quickly update major storm warnings nationwide, including those for tornadoes and hurricanes.

Schumer made his comments in a news release and an accompanying letter to Kathryn Sullivan, acting administrator of NOAA. In the letter he said NOAA's assessment of its Sandy performance showed "your agency should try to simplify, streamline and digitize the very complex sets of data related to a storm so that the public can be better informed to life-threatening risks.

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"While I appreciate that this is not a simple task, I hope that working with the Congress and other agencies of the federal government, we can accomplish this mission together," Schumer wrote.

The National Weather Service is creating an action plan to implement recommendations in the Sandy assessment report, including the development of a Web portal for forecast information during significant weather events, said Susan Buchanan, spokeswoman for the weather service. "An agencywide team at NOAA is working to make this happen."

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