The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, issued weather warnings this week that are credited with saving lives in Oklahoma. And it, like other government organizations, is dealing with the impact of the federal budget cuts knows as sequestration. The agency reports however, they will still maintain its critical missions.
NOAA, which includes the National Weather Service (NWS) provides hundreds of thousands of weather forecasts across the country annually, including more than 45000 severe weather warnings, for thunderstorms and tornados. They operate through a collection of national and regional centers, and more than 120 local weather forecast offices, like the one in Wilmington, Ohio
According to Ciaran Clayton, Director of Communications with NOAA, the agency took a 7% overall budget reduction for fiscal year 2013. She says that’s left them with a large shortfall.
According to Clayton, NOAA has “Implemented a hiring freeze, we’ve delayed pilot projects, cut some of our contracting, expenses, etc.. But unfortunately, these measures weren't enough to get us over the hurtle for the remainder of the year, so we have proposed four furlough days for all 12,000 of our employees.”
And just as the military is doing, Clayton says that weather forecasts and other critical missions will be maintained through the furloughs, which will be arranged so that severe weather will still be tracked, and those important watches and warnings will still be issued.
Clayton says, “You know, when you’re talking about four unpaid days for employees, this is obviously going to be a financial hardship for folks in the organization, but we are striving to make sure the weather forecasts that people have come to rely upon are maintained for this time.” In addition, Clayton says that in the event of an emergency, furloughs can be canceled for critical employees.
Budget requests for the coming year have been submitted but it is unclear whether sequestration will affect the agency in the coming year.