Written By John Bryant

Why Old Weather Data Could Make New Roads and Bridges a Billion-Dollar Mistake: A Call to Action

Old weather data in an era of Artificial Intelligence

In an era where data drives decisions, it’s alarming to realize that outdated weather models could steer our infrastructure investments toward a dead end. Billions of taxpayer dollars are at risk of being squandered on projects that may not withstand the test of time—or weather. The Atlas 14 weather model has issues. This isn’t just a concern for meteorologists or civil engineers; it’s an issue that affects us all. Here’s why we urgently need to update our approach and what you can do to help.

I read this in a CNBC article.

“It does not include any climate change information,” said Fernando Salas, director of the Geo-Intelligence Division for the NOAA/National Weather Service, Office of Water Prediction. “It leverages the best available historical precipitation data that was available the time that the study was performed.”

Critics of Atlas 14 say it has more problems than just backward-looking data, including “the removal of extreme precipitation observations and the use of inconsistent methods across the U.S. as Atlas 14 was created piecemeal over time,” according to the First Street report. Those extreme precipitation events are the ones that directly lead to flash floods and overwhelm stormwater infrastructure, the report says.

The Importance of Accurate Rainfall Data

Rainfall data is a critical component in the planning and constructing of various infrastructure projects, from roads and bridges to dams and drainage systems. Accurate data ensures these structures are built to withstand current and future weather conditions, maximizing their lifespan and utility.

The Cost of Inaccuracy

Outdated rainfall models can lead to miscalculations in infrastructure design, such as underestimating the strength required for a bridge to withstand a flood. These inaccuracies can result in catastrophic failures, costing lives and necessitating expensive repairs or replacements. In a time when federal and state budgets are already stretched thin, we can’t afford to make billion-dollar mistakes.

The Ripple Effect

The implications extend beyond just wasted money. Inadequate infrastructure can disrupt communities, impede economic growth, and even pose environmental risks. For example, a poorly designed drainage system could lead to flooding, causing property damage and harming local ecosystems.

A Call to Action

This is not just a problem for policymakers and engineers; it’s a problem for every taxpayer, every commuter, and every resident who relies on public infrastructure. Here’s how you can make a difference:

Educate Yourself and Others: Knowledge is power. The more people understand the importance of accurate weather data, the more pressure we can put on authorities to act.

Contact Your Representatives: Make your voice heard. Urge your local and federal representatives to prioritize the updating of weather models used in infrastructure planning.

Engage in Public Discourse: Use social media platforms to raise awareness about this issue. The more it’s talked about, the harder it becomes for those in power to ignore.

Support Organizations: There are various organizations focused on improving public infrastructure and advocating for responsible spending. Your support can make a real difference.