Bandwidth challenges could reshape how we use weather apps from the National Weather Service

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How we use weather apps will adjust for the worse soon.
The National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) is considering putting restrictions in place that would limit how often its websites could be accessed by the public. Ultimately, it could result in less accurate forecasts and delays in delivering severe weather warnings.

In a memo dated November 18 that largely flew under the radar until now, Brian Gross, acting director at NCEP, proposed new limits to safeguard their web services. According to Gross, the frequency at which the public is accessing its services has created infrastructure constraints and limitations.

“To add new or upgraded streams of data, there has to be a reduction in the number of connections into our system,” Gross added.

For example, one potential mitigation would lower the number of connections to 60 per minute for users accessing specific NCEP sites and services.

That’s great, but what does all of it mean for you?

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Many weather-focused sites and apps pull data from the NCEP to power their offerings. Limiting access by such “power users” could have a substantial impact on third parties’ ability to provide accurate and timely forecasts and severe weather warnings.

The logical solution would be for the NCEP to simply bolster their bandwidth / serving capabilities but without additional funding, that likely isn’t an option. Could this mean that third parties might have to start chipping in to pay for the data they access? How would they generate those funds? Would the end user wind up footing the bill and have to pay for access to weather apps?

The NCEP is seeking public comments on the matter through December 18.

Image credit: Andrey VP, Dean Drobot

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