NWS furloughs could begin soon

7:03 PM, Apr 17, 2013   |    comments
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By Farrah Fazal

ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. (KSDK) - The federal agency in charge of the National Weather Service decided this week it will furlough some of its workers in its offices across the country, a spokesman for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told NewsChannel 5.

Twenty-four people work in the St. Charles Weather Service office. Wes Browning is the meteorologist in charge. He said, the government had not notified him of any furloughs yet.

The Department of Commerce told lawmakers if they sequester NOAA, they run "the risk of significantly increasing forecast error and, the government's ability to warn Americans about high impact weather events, such as hurricanes and tornadoes". The DOC said a sequester would force the agency to stop using some of its high tech equipment.

Browning may not be able to call the Springfield weather office and ask for a second weather balloon launch on severe weather days. A balloon was launched on Wednesday to gauge the atmosphere for tornadoes. Severe weather is predicted until Thursday night. Browning might also not be able to use the powerful Doppler Radar as often.

"It scans a radius of 150 miles looking for thunderstorms that are rotating," Browning said. It's one of his biggest assets.

He said he and his staff have a mission to save lives and property. He'll continue doing his mission he said, even if he doesn't have as many resources.

The cuts are not yet finalized. The DOC said 2,700 could be furloughed. The NOAA said the furloughs could be cancelled in certain situations like oil spills and severe weather.


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