Weather Service Eyes Furloughs for Hurricane Season

Saturday, 09 Jun 2012 06:23 PM

By Patrick Hobin

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The National Weather Service has told legislators that it’s considering two-week furloughs during the critical hurricane season for up to 5,000 of its employees to make up for a $26 million budget gap, The Washington Post reported.

The move could jeopardize the quality of forecasts throughout the country this summer when violent weather often strikes.

The Weather Service, which issues watches and warnings for thunderstorms, tornadoes, flooding and hurricanes, staffs 122 forecast offices across the country, including the National Hurricane Center in Miami and the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla.

Employees worry that furloughs could affect the quality and timeliness of information of forecasts.  “If faced with this difficult situation, [the Weather Service] would work to prioritize resources and staff for mission-critical operations,” agency officials wrote to the National Weather Service Employees Organization about possible furloughs, according to the Post.

“Weather operations would likely be affected.”

The budget shortfall was blamed on a practice by the agency of reallocating millions of dollars that Congress approved for other projects to pay employees, the Post reported.

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