Can you trust weather forecasts during the government shutdown? Absolutely!

By John Roach, AccuWeather staff writer
January 18, 2019, 7:51:13 AM EST

EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story that appeared on this page seemed to imply that government weather data could not be trusted during the shutdown even though the intent of our story was to point out that government data is continuing to flow through regular channels, and that our meteorological colleagues at the National Weather Service are working hard, as we are, to keep people safe and informed. And they are doing so without paychecks. This updated version of the story better communicates that idea.

With winter storms wreaking havoc up and down the California coast and a major snowstorm about to blast the Northeast, could there be a more inopportune time for the longest government shutdown in American history? Reports from the Washington Post, CNN and others say the limitations on the National Weather Service (NWS) will make weather forecasts "worse" and that presents a "national security risk."

While the shutdown clearly has affected the weather community and its valuable work short-term and long-term with many NWS employees being furloughed, others are still producing the work that leads to reliable daily forecasts. And these dedicated meteorologists are showing up for work each day even though it’s been weeks since they received a paycheck.

"We feel badly for our weather colleagues in government who are not getting paid during the shutdown," said Marshall Moss, AccuWeather vice president, Forecasting and Graphic Operations. "Like us, they're doing critical life-saving work and issuing public warnings and we hope they are paid soon.”

Static AP Heavy snow wet pavement

A woman walks her dog through heavy snow. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Those efforts contribute to the country’s weather forecasting efforts, particularly with weather-related events such as those occurring throughout the country this weekend.

"All the government models are still running and all of the critical data from the U.S. and around the world is still coming in to our global forecasting center," said Dr. Joel N. Myers, AccuWeather founder and CEO. “Models from other countries also provide forecast guidance for the U.S.”

Dr. Neil Jacobs, the deputy administrator of NOAA wrote in an op-ed in the Post and Courier: “Excepted NWS employees are working tirelessly on mission-essential functions to protect life and property, and all of the resources needed to support the operational models and services continue to be available.”

"Importantly, we receive the data we need, not just from the NWS but from partners all over the world," Moss said. "We combine all of that data with artificial intelligence and the insights and perspectives of our more than 100 operational meteorologists to ensure that we are providing the best and most accurate forecasts to all locations at all times and that these forecasts are communicated in the most effective manner to help people make the decisions they need to make."

Midwestern US: Wind-swept snow, treacherous travel to focus from Ohio to Kentucky into Saturday night
Heavy rain floods Southern California
Immobilizing blizzard with feet of snow looms for interior Northeast

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