Jason -- I will completely agree that the way NOAA works is somewhat arrogant at times and that the current policy does not exactly foster everyone working together. I don't believe, however, that the proposed legislation is the way towards going about encouraging such interaction (though I will claim ignorance on many of the finer points of the bill, most of which still need to be hammered out between the various groups).
The NWS/NOAA did once have the no-compete clause; however, everything that they provide that conflicts with something another commercial vendor provides generally either originates from NOAA products (e.g. model data) or is a direct repackaging of NOAA products (e.g. satellite, radar). Further, NWS/NOAA was generally first to provide those services; effectively, the material fell under a grandfather clause, whether stated or implied. Of course, then the no-compete was repealed, and here we stand today. The AMS held a symposium telecast over the Internet regarding the issue about a year ago, with many of the players already mentioned in the thread present on the board.
The bigger question becomes, what is the most fair agreement between NOAA & the commercial sector? Any agreement is going to affect the entire field of meteorology, that much is certain. Similarly, the most fair solution is likely going to lie somewhere between the two extremes; determining where is the key issue here. Problem is, neither side seems to want to work cooperatively to resolve the issue: NOAA views it as circumvention to effectively eliminate many of their powers, while the commercial sector feels like they are trying to right a wrong and can't work with NOAA to do so. Something that allows fair and unfettered access to the data without limiting anyone's abilities to innovate, forecast, put out products, and so on is what is needed. For instance, universities get a wide array of data free under the current program, while such a luxury is not provided to commercial vendors. Thus, the universities can perform quite a bit of research at a reduced rate (which is good), but they can also use their status to create products that blow the commercial sector out of the water (price & often feature-wise). Rectifying that problem, perhaps by changing how data is filtered to the commercial vendors (without changing the entire structure of NOAA), is (IMO) the best way to start to address the problem. Building blocks can then go from there to develop a fair partnership.
Getting back to the arrogance of NOAA for a brief second, over time, they've decided to exert more and more power and control over the NWS itself, oftentimes much to the dismay of the NWS & those it affects. No longer is the NWS technically the NWS -- it is now NOAA's NWS. The gridded forecast product is a particularly hot topic of debate, as it relies on modified model output to populate the grids and, essentially, provide a forecast. Any private company that can do it better without overcharging the public twice for it is going to have success (and that's part of why the local weatherman is still going strong today...they are generally better than even a local NWS office). Further, since it is a national product, all office's forecasts have to match, something that can lead to some interesting debates and inconsistantcies between multiple offices when developing a forecast. It too came down from the top. The COMET program -- a valuable collaborative effort between the NWS & its affliates and universities -- has lost its funding, while student internship positions are sharply down across the board; while these two aspects may not solely be on NOAA's shoulders, it comes down from the top as well.
It's interesting, though, to hear the wide variety of views on this issue here on the board. I somewhat expected it, with the wide array of interests represented, but that's not a bad thing: it gets valid discussion going. I will say though that Sen. Santorum has been flooded with e-mails and calls about this legislation (mostly against, some for), but not primarily from those in the meteorological community. Instead, surprisingly enough, it comes from the technological community, where the vast majority come from an open-source mindset and would like to see things remain nearly the same as they are now (with minor changes). If anything, however, it just goes to show you how far-reaching the impacts of this bill may be.
As for the W. Caribbean invest: I've yet to see a satellite intensity estimate on it, but I would imagine it'd be T1.0/1.0 at best. There still appears to be some sort of circulation there with convection firing on its east side, but I feel it is currently too far north (and close to the subtropical jet) to see much development. There is a small & narrow ridge of high pressure aloft trying to build in from the east, as predicted by the models, but I think the storm may have moved too much for this to matter all that much. Model support for development is generally lacking in the area, however.
As someone mentioned, the NOGAPS & UKMET models try to develop something in the central Atlantic in the 5-7 day time frame, as in the latest run, but that's really too far out to speculate right now. The NOGAPS is stronger with development than the UKMET, with both models initially developing the storm as an extratropical low. However, as it moves northeast, both show some sort of subtropical (UK) or tropical (NOGAPS) transition of the cyclone. Bears watching, but too early out there, despite the relatively high SSTs for this time of year, to really get your hopes up.
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