Weather Service Could Furlough 5,000 Workers Due To Budget Crunch

weather service workers furlough

When it rains it pours -- especially when there's bad news about the job market.

A cash crunch at the National Weather Service means that up to 5,000 federal workers may find themselves without paychecks for two weeks this summer, should Congress fail to allocate the $36 million the agency needs to meet payroll through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.

"[The move] would require each employee to be furloughed for 13 days, or the equivalent of at least one full pay period," staggered over the summer, reports, citing a fact sheet from the Commerce Department, which oversees the Weather Service.

But the furloughs won't merely affect the government workers' bank accounts. As The Washington Post reports, the cutbacks come at the height of the hurricane season, and the forced time off could disrupt critical forecasting and other operations that the NWS provides.

Hurricane season began June 1, and the furloughs would take place mid-July through September, a typically active time for tropical storms. The result could be that millions of Americans won't get the information they need to plan for potentially life-threatening, severe weather.

"If faced with this difficult situation, [the NWS] would work to prioritize resources and staff for mission-critical operations," the agency told the union representing the agency's workers, the National Weather Service Employees Organization. "Weather operations would likely be affected."

Labor expenses cost the NWS about $2 million a day. Previously, it has reallocated money that Congress has earmarked for other purposes to meet payroll. But a recent investigation put an end to that practice, and prompted the abrupt retirement of the agency's director John "Jack" L. Hayes.

There's no evidence that the money was used for personal gain. Instead it was used to fund operations at more than 120 local NWS offices.

The announcement of potential furloughs angered the president of the employees' union, Dan Sobien, who was quoted by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as saying that the workers shouldn't be penalized for agency executives' mistakes,

"Their misguided plan to furlough all agency employees is another example of the short-sighted thinking that has put them in such dire straits," Sobien said.

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), who's in charge of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, opposes furloughs.

Mikulski told The Washington Post that she is working with her Republican colleagues "to get all the facts so we can agree to a new plan to prevent furloughs in the short term."

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It might serve the public right to remove government forecasting, especially for tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes. The american public oddly can only react to tragedy to know what it needs for protection and not to prevention.

June 10 2012 at 3:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ronald Malozi

Everytime I turn around, something else is going broke in this country.

June 10 2012 at 3:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Big oil and food needs their money... no money for you.. big oil quote.

June 10 2012 at 3:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

look like we have much worse problems ahead, so brace yourself for a long ride.

June 10 2012 at 2:37 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Oh, WAH! Thirteen whole days! How many of the long-term unemployed out there would trade a 13 day furlough for a nice, secure, well paying Federal job? Line forms to the right!

June 10 2012 at 2:30 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

that's ok they wouldn't have gotten the weather report right anyhow lol

June 10 2012 at 2:18 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

All gov't agencies have too much "fat". All gov't programs have too much "fat'. We need most of these programs and agencies, just not all the "fat".Cuts must and will be made sooner or later just for the financial survial of the agency or the program--have to be for the financial survival of this nation.

June 10 2012 at 2:16 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

What a misleading headline. Please, will some one get rid of these journalist who do NOT report news, but simply write headlines that are misleading. In the article, it clearly states that there would be "staggered furloughs" that would be the equivalent of losing ONE PAY PERIOD of pay. No on is LOSING their jobs! If you have no ethics, then get a job outside of journalism and other fields in which you have influence over others. You do not have the intestinal fortitude to self-monitor, and thus, you are DANGEROUS.

June 10 2012 at 2:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Something tells me they don't need that many people. That is 100 per state. And this is just the federal workers. How many state people are on this job. It takes 100 people to predict the weather in Maryland and they still get it wrong?

June 10 2012 at 2:12 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dew1500's comment

excellent point.

June 10 2012 at 2:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Cut every non-essential job in the government. No more union labor. If you want to organize use facebook or twitter. The unions and thier stranglehod on us needs to end. Just in DC during a snowstorm recently there was an order that only essential employees get in to work. There were 250000 non-essential employees. Are yo kidding me. Cut the pork. Lower taxes. Let us free.

June 10 2012 at 2:09 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to derealest's comment

but that would hurt Mr. O he want's to hire more. I do agree with you.

June 10 2012 at 2:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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