In the technology-intensive environment of forecasting, Proenza appears to have been considered an outsider grown distant from the hands-on work of scientists.X. Bill Proenza didn't seem like a crazy or overly political choice. I suppose that maybe I shouldn't expect every appointment the president makes to seem insane, but if he put his cat in with strict instructions not to tie increased hurricane frequency to global warming, my world view would have been a little better enforced.
A lot goes on at the NHC that we don't hear about, and I'll just take it on faith that the staff who succeeded in ousting him were acting in the nation's best interest. The nature of the surface controversy is a little weird, though. From the Seattle Times:
Now, does that sound like the kind of thing that would get the staff up in arms? Are they really pissy about him ragging on their party? Does it not seem to you that if a particular satellite is useful in a forecast, that the forecast would be worse without it? I feel like I'm being dense, but if you were a forecaster, wouldn't you want that satellite replaced? Wouldn't having your director stand up to the criminal redirection of funds from weather prediction to defense contractors in the name of some fanciful Mars Lander program be a good thing?
Proenza has publicly criticized the government for failing to provide enough funding, particularly to replace an aging weather satellite and increase research. He also said NOAA had spent money on an anniversary celebration while cutting research money.
He said he was trying to ensure that his forecasters had the best tools and proper support.
Franklin, the forecaster, said Proenza had exaggerated the risk if a key satellite called QuikScat failed. It is past its expected life span, and Proenza has argued that tracking forecasts could be up to 16 percent less accurate without it.
"He has been very loudly saying if it failed, our forecasts for landfalling storms would be degraded," Franklin said. "None of that is the case, and he knows that we feel that way. The science is not there to back up the claims that he's making."
There has to be more to this story. Lixion Avila reveals what may be a little personal animosity, and revisits the rule that guided the first two or three years of life under Bush 43.
Avila and Franklin said they depend on QuikScat more for intensity information than to determine a storm's path. Avila said the satellite was like a BMW with leather seats: nice but not essential.
When asked if he thought Proenza misspoke intentionally, he said: "Don't attribute to malice what you can attribute to stupidity."