NWS Industrial Meteorology

Policy and Guidelines Governing National Weather Service and Private Sector Roles (A-06)

Note: This policy is no longer in effect. For current policy, see: NOAA Policy on Partnerships in the Provision of Environmental Information


3. Policy:

3. Policy. In order to carry out its mission and foster this public-private partnership, the NWS shall:

a. Collect and exchange hydrometeorological data and information on a national and international basis;

b. Issue warnings and forecasts of severe weather, floods, hurricanes, and tsunami events which adversely affect life and property;

c. Issue weather, river, and water resources forecasts, and related guidance materials used to form a common national hydrometeorological information base for the general public, private sector, aviation, marine, forestry, agricultural, navigation, power interests, land and water resources management agencies, and emergency managers at all levels of government;

d. Provide climatological summaries, frequencies, and limits of hydrometeorological elements to establish a basis for various Federal regulations and design criteria, and to support the real-time operations of federally operated facilities;

e. Provide private weather access to near real-time alphanumeric and graphical data and information through a variety of techniques;

f. Establish basic quality controls for the observed and collected data, and provide the user community with sufficient information to evaluate data and forecast reliability and applicability;

g. Conduct and support research and development of atmospheric and hydrometeorological models; and

h. Produce global, national, or general regional atmospheric models and river basin models.

The NWS also recognizes the important contribution that private broadcast meteorologists, newspapers, and news agencies make to the timely dissemination of NWS watches and warnings and other products that may require public response. The relationship is one of mutual support and cooperation. In order to protect the competitive nature of the privately- owned media, direct NWS participation with the radio and television media should be limited to those situations requiring urgent public action as in the case of severe or extreme weather and flooding or educational and preparedness activities.

The private weather industry provides:

a. Tailored weather, river, and water resources forecasts, detailed hydrometeorological information, consultation, and data for weather, river, and water resources sensitive industries and private organizations;

b. Value-added products such as weather and hydrologic-related computer hardware and software, observational systems, imaging systems, displays, communications, charts, graphs, maps, and images for clients;

c. Climatological summaries, probability values of weather extremes, and similar material for specific design and construction problems.

The following paragraph states the policy on the free and open international exchange of data:

The private weather industry and the NWS will work together to protect the free and open international exchange of meteorologic, hydrologic, and oceanographic data provided by the NWS by ensuring that the data are not used to compete directly with or to interfere with internal policies of national meteorological agencies in those countries where they also provide commercial weather services.

This concept of a public-private partnership is not intended to discourage or preclude the private sector from providing comments and advice on publicly issued warnings and forecasts nor government agencies from obtaining weather services from the private sector. However, in the critical area of severe weather, hurricanes, floods, and tsunami warnings, the NWS is the single "official" voice.


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