Shutdown Spares National Weather Service

The partial government shutdown that began last weekend is affecting about a quarter of the federal government, but not the weather.  Or weather forecasting, to be more precise.  The National Weather Service is still fully functional, despite newly published concerns about the possibility of losing NWS services.  "We're deemed essential, so we're still staffing, as we normally would, all of our operations," says Jim Evans with the NWS Houston office. 

In fact, Evans tells KTRH that a full shutdown of the NWS is pretty much unheard of.  "We've never had a complete shutdown where the entire weather service was shut down, we've always been deemed essential," he says.  "So it would be something that the government just hasn't done."

If there were any impact on the NWS, it would likely only be in personnel and only if the shutdown drags on for an extended time.  "The current shutdown that we have, all of our systems are still up, our satellites, our radars are all being maintained, so it's somewhat invisible to most people who need our services and our operations," says Evans.  "The only real impact for our staff would be personnel-wise, if (the shutdown) were to continue, at some point we might start seeing payments and checks delayed, and things of that nature."

The NWS budget is relatively small compared with other federal agencies, reportedly about one billion dollars per year.  That's one-fifth of the amount President Trump is seeking for a border wall, which has prompted the partial shutdown.

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