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How the government shutdown impacts the weather industry

By Mark Puleo, AccuWeather staff writer
December 24, 2018, 3:29:08 PM EST

Government Shutdown

As midnight came and went without a new spending bill, the federal government has officially entered a partial shut down. Over 400,000 federal employees will work without pay during the holiday season, while another 380,000 could be furloughed.

The shutdown forces many federal agencies to cease operations, including those in the weather industry such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Weather Service, the U.S. Geological Survey and NASA.

Despite the shutdown, however, numerous NWS branches around the country shared statements that they would remain open and employees would work without pay.

“The National Weather Service will operate 24/7 during the government shutdown,” the official Twitter account for NWS Juneau branch shared. “We will still provide reliable forecast and warning information through traditional means and through social media. You can find your local forecast anytime at weather.gov/Juneau”

During the government shutdown of 2013, the National Weather Service office in Anchorage also stayed open as employees worked without pay. Workers managed to vent about their displeasure via forecast discussion, as the first letters in the first 11 lines of their outbound messaged spelled out “please pay us”.

The NWS branch in Springfield, Missouri, also shared a statement on its website, saying that all activities have been canceled or postponed until further notice.

“The National Weather Service will continue to provide critical forecast, watch and warning information to protect life and property throughout the shutdown.”

During the shutdown, research being currently supported by NASA and the National Science Foundation will also cease. The ability for agencies like NOAA and NASA to provide data, field inquiries and share updates will also be shuttered for the time being.

One exception to the shutdown is the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA has multi-year funding and additional means to keep its 14,000 employees working for the time being.

In 2017, a contingency plan was established that would keep a small number of employees from the NOAA and the NWS operational during shutdowns. These employees are considered essential to protecting life and property, as they provide important information for boaters and airline pilots.

About 5,000 Forest Service firefighters will also continue working without pay during the shutdown. In the contingency plan published this month, USDA.gov stated that all volunteer activities will be discontinued during the shutdown.

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