An online weather training program that serves thousands of forecasters and emergency managers will be asking for donations to be able to continue providing services. The concerns come after U.S. budget cuts left them with much less funding.
The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, based in Boulder, Colo., is facing a funding shortfall of nearly $2 million and will ask for donations to continue providing the COMET Program, which offers online training on aviation ceiling and visibility, forecasting for wildfires and other events.
UCAR is a consortium of 100 universities in the United States, including the University of Oklahoma.
The website is used by an estimated 275,000 meteorologists, pilots, firefighters, emergency managers and other professionals as well as students.
The courses are currently offered at no charge. The program’s director, Rich Jeffries, says the program would like to raise $400,000 through donations to keep the current website going through this year.
Users will be asked to click a ‘donate’ button on the website and can pay by credit card or check.
Jeffries said program officials hope that the donations will keep the service operating until the nation's budget and economy stabilize.