COLLEGE PARK – Congressman Steny H. Hoyer visited the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Center for Weather and Climate Prediction to show his appreciation for the researchers by taking a tour hosting a town hall with federal employees. The research center, originally built in August 2012, is considered “ground zero” because of how quickly […]
COLLEGE PARK – Congressman Steny H. Hoyer visited the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Center for Weather and Climate Prediction to show his appreciation for the researchers by taking a tour hosting a town hall with federal employees.
The research center, originally built in August 2012, is considered “ground zero” because of how quickly and efficiently the researchers analyze changes in weather, climate, and land activity, 24/7, nationally and internationally.
Director of the National Weather Service, Louis W. Uccellini said, “Congressman Hoyer has always been interested in what we do here regarding weather and climate. He was very instrumental in getting this center built.”
NOAA Spokesman John Leslie said the facility is home to 825 meteorologists, scientists, data managers and other employees.
“The computers we use are faster and computing more data in just seconds,” Leslie said. “The satellites have improved and continue to feed our developing models.”
Hoyer looked on as one researcher noticed a spike in wind activity happening in the southern part of the United States and instantly put out an alert about a tornado threat in the region. NOAA researchers monitor activity in the Caribbean and African native countries as well.
The research center makes sure the information they use is good and useful, said Weather Operations Manager David R. Novak said, and researchers continue developing their expertise over time.
During the tour, researchers made predictions for Prince George’s County for the next week.
“Here are the weather predictions for next week after measurements from our satellite are gathered and it looks like it’s going to rain a lot in our county unfortunately,” said Novak.
Hoyer sat through a demonstration by Deputy Director of the Air Resources Laboratory Richard S. Artz , which led to a discussion about the high percentage of mercury in the air.
Artz said since 2007 the levels have decreased a few percent but pointed out the 11:30 a.m. spike in mercury deposition from the United States.
“China and other countries contribute small amounts, but most of the mercury deposition is from the United States. This includes elemental mercury and gaseous mercury chloride,” said Artz.
He informed the congressman that those amounts of mercury are not dangerous at this time since mercury is not an inhalable pollutant but it becomes dangerous if it ends up in our fish.
“The biology is where the rubber meets the road,” said Artz.
Hoyer said these are critically important observations.
After the tour, Hoyer hosted a town hall meeting with employees and give them his appreciation.
“Other countries have similar centers and technology but you here are extraordinarily well educated, and dedicated individuals,” said Hoyer.
Hoyer discussed the need to revise the research center’s retirement program and raised awareness about the difficulty of researchers advancing in their career.
“We need to start treating our research employees better because it will be hard to generate more researchers if we don’t. A government that the Republicans can shut down just to prove a point does not benefit researchers who are also government workers,” said Hoyer. “We are able to able to predict the weather in advance and let people know what they will be facing for safety reasons.” Hoyer said, “You get to meet these talented people who make the difference and giving them environment, building and equipment that allows them to maximize their talent.”