Here’s Jeff Masters.
NHC director Bill Read stated in a interview this week that had Hurricane Irene come along before the recent improvements in track forecasting, hurricane warnings would have been issued for the entire Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina coasts. At an average cost of $1 million per mile of coast over-warned, this would have cost over $700 million.
Wow. The article goes on to lament the potential budget cuts to the NHC that threaten further improvement in this forecasting system.
But this isn’t really ‘pure science’ in the classic sense: there’s a genuine commercial application for the stuff the NHC puts out. As Masters points out, $700m is not a small number.
I guarantee that some kind of private (re)insurer consortium would step in to fill the funding gap in this research budget were credibly threatened. They’re a group that can easily measure how much money is on the table to lose.
Heck, I’d bet that the budget would increase.