President’s Budget will create a “Perfect Storm” for Weather Forecasts and Warnings
Contains 8% cut to National Weather Service funding and elimination of hundreds of forecasters
Tuesday 13th February 2018 , 09:02 ET
WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The President’s budget acknowledges the importance of NWS to protecting lives and property-
“Advance notice provided by weather forecasts enables the Nation’s leaders, decision makers, and media to provide better warnings and advisories to first responders, the public, and businesses. Getting this right reduces the catastrophic loss of human life and property and the damaging effects on the national economy.”
Efficient, Effective, Accountable: An American Budget – Fiscal Year 2019, at 30. However, the President’s budget proposes a cut of 8% to funding for the National Weather Service next fiscal year, compared to FY 2017 enacted levels ($1,191 million vs. $1,097 million). See Appendix to Budget for Fiscal Year 2019 at 190-92.
These savings will be achieved by cutting 355 additional forecasters and other operational staff beyond the hundreds of operational positions that are already vacant, and closing forecast offices at night and weekends.
The National Weather Service will no longer be able to issue reliable forecasts or timely warnings of severe weather if these cuts are implemented, according to the union that represents the 3,500 forecasters and technicians at National Weather Service offices and forecasting centers nationwide.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, “the quality of the NWS’s warning capability corresponds with its capacity to muster an ample, fully trained local staff at its Weather Forecast Offices as severe weather unfolds.” However, in May, 2017 the Government Accountability Office released a study that revealed that the vacancy rate in NWS operational units had reached a point where NWS employees are “unable at times to perform key tasks.” The GAO found that the vacancy rate in operational units that issue forecasts and warnings rose from 5 percent at the end of fiscal year 2010 (211 positions) to 11 percent at the end of fiscal year 2016 (455 positions). The GAO also found that NWS “staff experienced stress, fatigue and reduced morale resulting from their efforts to cover for vacancies” due to lack of time off and a loss of training.
“We can’t take any more cuts and still do the job that the American public needs us to do – there simply will not be the staff available on duty to issue the forecasts and warnings upon which the country depends,” said Dan Sobien, President of the National Weather Service Employees Organization.
contact Daniel Sobien 202-907-3036
Richard Hirn 202-255-3141
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SOURCE National Weather Service Employees Organization