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Schumer blasts closing of LGA weather office

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Borough President Helen Marshall and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) have criticized a Federal Aviation Administra­tion’s plan to shut down all but two aviation weather forecasting offices, including one serving LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports.

“As the president of the borough of Queens, home to LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport, I am concerned about a planned consolidation of stations operated by the National Weather Service,” Marshall wrote to Ray LaHood, the U.S. Department of Transportation secretary.

“The FAA plan would close 20 regional weather stations, including one at Ronkonkoma on Long Island, which services New York City’s heavily traveled, very busy airports,” Marshall wrote.

“While the FAA might have concluded that only two such stations are adequate to meet the meteorological needs of air traffic controllers and pilots, simple common sense tells us that local weather facilities, situated near particular airports, are better equipped to observe and report certain weather occurrences as the need arises,” Marshall said.

She warned that the could make it harder for pilots and air traffic controllers to avoid potentially hazardous weather conditions.

Marshall has requested that the FAA and National Weather Service explain why the consolidation plan is necessary.

“We need assurances that this plan will not in any way jeopardize the quality of meteorological services available to aircraft and pilots using our airports,” Marshall said. “Without these things, we oppose the current plan to eliminate the weather stations,” Marshall said.

Schumer also criticized the consolidation plan, saying it would “remove the very people whose expertise is vital to this area and which would worsen already-congested air traffic over the New York City area.”

The FAA plan would reduce the number of weather forecasting stations from 20 down to two, one in College Park, Md., and another in Kansas City, Mo.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 136.

Updated 6:32 pm, October 10, 2011
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