National Weather Service Forecasts Frustration of Furloughed Workers

Left: Actual snow fall from February 6, 2010. Center: Forecast using NOAA' sattelite technology. Right: Forecast without using satellite data.
National Journal
Clara Ritger
Add to Briefcase
Clara Ritger
Oct. 10, 2013, 11:49 a.m.

The gov­ern­ment may stop, but the weath­er will not.

It’s why ap­prox­im­ately 80 per­cent of Na­tion­al Weath­er Ser­vice em­ploy­ees re­main hard at work track­ing storms and is­su­ing alerts.

A state­ment on the Na­tion­al Ocean­ic and At­mo­spher­ic Ad­min­is­tra­tion web­site says it will con­tin­ue to be main­tained be­cause it con­tains in­form­a­tion that will “pro­tect life and prop­erty.” But due to the shut­down, the met­eor­o­lo­gists and re­search­ers will not re­ceive pay un­til Con­gress reaches a budget agree­ment. The Na­tion­al Weath­er Ser­vice is part of NOAA.

Last week, an em­ploy­ee in An­chor­age, Alaska, in­scribed “PLEASE PAY US” in­to a weath­er fore­cast, a move that has caused some fal­lout with­in the agency, said Dan Sobi­en, the na­tion­al pres­id­ent of the Na­tion­al Weath­er Ser­vice Em­ploy­ees Or­gan­iz­a­tion.

“There’s a pretty high level of frus­tra­tion among people,” Sobi­en said. “Any time there’s a polit­ic­al dis­agree­ment in Wash­ing­ton, fed­er­al em­ploy­ees are get­ting kicked in the shins. That was the face of frus­tra­tion.”

Sobi­en ad­ded that the uni­on does not en­dorse what the em­ploy­ee did. He has heard, however, people with­in the or­gan­iz­a­tion and in oth­er fed­er­al agen­cies ex­press their sup­port, call­ing the em­ploy­ee “a hero.”

Loc­al news­pa­pers have picked up on the hu­mor of “es­sen­tial” versus “non­es­sen­tial” gov­ern­ment func­tions in light of the shut­down. After read­ing why weath­er fore­casts would con­tin­ue to be is­sued dur­ing the D.C. stan­doff, Ed­it­or Kurt Hildebrand of the small-town Nevada news­pa­per The Re­cord-Cour­i­er ed­it­or­i­al­ized in the print edi­tion:

“We’re still get­ting Na­tion­al Weath­er Ser­vice fore­casts, be­cause they’ve been deemed es­sen­tial due to the fact that we’re still get­ting weath­er. Ex­pect today’s weath­er to be sunny and cool with a high tem­per­at­ure of 57 de­grees. Wind will be out of the east at 10-15 mph, gust­ing to 25 mph.”

Jokes aside, em­ploy­ees at the Na­tion­al Weath­er Ser­vice are feel­ing the pock­et­book pain that has been ex­pressed by many fed­er­al agency em­ploy­ees await­ing paychecks. As for when Con­gress will ap­pro­pri­ate fund­ing, the fore­cast is bleak.

What We're Following See More »
2-MONTH GIG OR 8-YEAR GIG?
Alec Baldwin to Play Trump on ‘SNL’
54 minutes ago
THE DETAILS
STRIKES DOWN NEW HAMPSHIRE BAN
Court: Selfies in Voting Booth Now OK
3 hours ago
WHY WE CARE
WILL LEAD U.S. DELEGATION
Obama to Travel to Israel for Peres’s Funeral
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS
FOUR-POINT LEAD IN FOUR-WAY RACE
Reuters/Ipsos Shows Clinton Ahead by 6
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

In one of the first polls released since Monday night's debate, a Reuters/Ipsos survey shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump 44%-38%. When third-party candidates are thrown into the mix, Clinton's share of the vote drops to 42%, with Gary Johnson picking up 7% and Jill Stein at 2%.

Source:
NO SHUTDOWN
Senate Votes to Fund Government
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

The Senate voted on Wednesday 72-26 on a bill to fund the government through Dec. 9, averting a looming shutdown. The legislation will now go to the House, where it could be voted on as early as Wednesday. After this legislation is approved by the House, Congress will recess until the lame-duck session following elections.

×