Not being an Accuweather subscriber myself, I'll certainly admit I'm not too qualified to comment on the services they provide. However I did read a spot in the paper today about just this, the private vs. government conflicts in forecasts. I can't recall if it was an AP release, if so it may have found its way in to some of your newspapers too.
Anyways, they showed three maps representing three forecast tracks yesterday, by both Accuweather and the NHC. The writer of the article seemed to boast about how Accuweather issues 7-day forecasts while the NHC does "only" five. Also, the Accuweather rep they interviewed boldly talked down about the NHC, claiming they always issue "conservative" forecasts, and are "reluctant to change their forecasts" if conditions change.
This appaled me, to say the least. First off, the Accuweather forecasts showed little change (a drift under 100 miles North on the FL coast) over the day, while the NHC started with a west hook, but had it curving east by the end of the day. This contradiction aside, I find it irresponsible for a meteorolgist to take pride in the fact that they make risky (synonyms of risky: insecure, high-risk, speculative) long-term forecasts about a storm that nobody can securely forecast yet.
Accuweather provides a paid service, and being a capitalist society there's nothing but nothing wrong with that. Talking down about one's competition is certainly normal, but in the case of the government issuing life-saving directives about hurricanes, I think that kind of childish competitiveness is grossly inappropriate in a situation like this.
I'm at work at the moment, if I find that article online I'll link to it, otherwise I'll post it up here when I get the chance.
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