Partial government shutdown impacting local National Weather Service office

The partial government shutdown is impacting the National Weather Service (NWS) office serving the Big Country and the Concho Valley.

The local NWS office in San Angelo continues to operate and provide forecasts even though their employees are not getting paid because of the government shutdown.

The NWS employees that have shown up to work for the past 25 days are considered "expected" employees, who must show up to work no matter how long the government shutdown lasts.

While the NWS workers will eventually get back pay, their lives at home are being affected and their bills are going unpaid.

Under the government shutdown, only daily duties are being completed, such as issuing forecasts, making daily weather observations and declaring severe weather warnings.

Dr. Neil Jacobs is a Deputy Administrator with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, known as NOAA.

Jacobs said that one of the important functions that the federal government provides to Americans daily is accurate weather forecasts and the government shutdown will not hinder the model performance or accuracy of the weather forecasts.

Typically, at the beginning of each year, the NWS holds multiple training classes for the public, known as Skywarn Spotter Training, but during the government shutdown, these activities can not take place.

NOAA Communication Director Julie Roberts told KTXS that “due to the partial lapse in funding, NOAA does not have anyone available for an interview."

Roberts said that a spokesperson for NOAA said that, “they are only allowed to issue statements to protect lives and property.”

On top of that, no visits to NWS offices are allowed and all research is suspended until the government shutdown is over.

In the Big Country, KTXS reached out to Warning Coordination Meteorologist Hector Guerrero at the NWS office in San Angelo.

"During the government shutdown, I can only answer questions directly related to weather or protecting life and property," said Guerrero.

The NWS said that their priority is to provide accurate weather forecasts.

Throughout the government shutdown, the NWS is not authorized to engage in any of the activities listed below while the funding lapse continues, according to Tom Bradshaw, the Meteorologist-in-Charge at the NWS office in Dallas/Fort Worth.

General outreach activities (either in person or remote), including:

  • Skywarn storm spotter sessions
  • Weather safety education talks
  • NWS awareness talks
  • Participation in education/safety fairs or similar events
  • College recruiting events

Academic partner collaboration meetings

Scientific conferences and workshops

Office tours

Non-critical cooperative observer maintenance or visits

Non-critical maintenance of other field equipment, including radar, ASOS and NWR

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