“And a NOAA report last year estimated that….”
In English, we have to use “an” instead of “a” if the next word starts with a vowel sound.
But if the next word is an abbreviation, it’s tricky.
- The abbreviation “NOAA” is pronounced en oh ay ay.
- But if you translate the meaning of the abbreviation, you say National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The editor in this example (or the algorithm that edits this publication, or the bot that makes these decisions) clearly assumed that readers seeing “NOAA” would say to themselves, in their heads, as they read this piece, “And a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report last year estimated….”
I don’t think so. I didn’t even know what the NOAA was. I thought it was my neighbor calling her kid home for dinner: “Noaaaaaaah!”
I think we should write the way people think as they’re reading — and what you hear in your head, as you read this sentence, is “en oh ay ay.”
Which means we need “an” in front of it, not “a.”
(Now I’m bracing myself for negative comments from employees of the En Oh Ay Ay.)