Thanksgiving Travel: Weather Could Cause Problems, Meanwhile NOAA Leader Still “Acting”

Weather.com Tuesday Forecast Map

Forecasters are calling for major storms this week to snarl travel plans for much of the country — with cities from Denver to Detroit expecting snow, freezing rain and soaking rain and winds on Tuesday into Wednesday, the heaviest travel day of the year.  CNN reports that the National Weather Service is also predicting a “historic” storm for southwest Oregon and northwest California that will rival the strength of a Category 1 hurricane and pack wind gusts up to 74 mph.

  • In other weather news, the Trump Administration’s nominee to be the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is withdrawing his name from consideration — he was nominated but never confirmed — leaving the Acting Administrator to continue to lead the agency.

Why This Matters:  This will be the longest time NOAA has gone without a confirmed Administrator in its history.  It continues to be short-handed and run by political appointees that can be easily pressured by the White House, as was the problem during Sharpie-gate.  However, the nominee, Barry Myers, always had conflict of interest problems because of his long history with a major private weather company, AccuWeather.  This week’s messy weather underscores the importance of having strong leaders at the helm who are free from bias and who can push back against any effort to politicize the delivery of weather forecasts.  

Weather – Snow, Rain and Wind That Could Ground Balloons

Who should be on the lookout for bad weather?

  • Northern California — “Several FEET of snow are expected, and mountain travel is highly discouraged!” the NWS Sacramento office tweeted Sunday, with a map showing that the entire Sierra Nevada mountain region under a winter storm warning from 10 a.m. today through 4 p.m. Thursday, according to the Sacramento Bee.
  • Middle of the Country — A snowstorm will move from the Rockies to the Plains and upper Midwest during the first half of this week with accumulating snow (up to 6-8″) and gusty winds affecting pre-Thanksgiving travel.
  • The Macy’s parade organizers will be watching the winds forecast closely on Thursday, because they may need to ground the big balloons for which the parade is known, due to winds above 20 m.p.h.

The Storm Around Myers’ Nomination

The NOAA nominee did not give any official reason for withdrawing his nomination, but apparently health issues may have been involved.  Myers also said that Senate Democrats are to blame for delaying his nomination due to false news stories that have put his family under “attack.”  Myers also had a “me too” problem due to AccuWeather’s record of sexual harassment lawsuits and settlements during Myers’ time at the company, according to The Washington Post.  NOAA’s web site states that Dr. Neil Jacobs, the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction who was one of the key figures in “Sharpie-gate,” continues performing the duties of Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere.

To Go Deeper: This segment by John Oliver explains why who leads this agency matters – worth your time and will make you laugh too!

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