Cuts could impact National Weather Service

Possible NOAA furloughs will save millions

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The National Weather Service will soon be hit by the cuts all federal agencies have been faced with because of sequestration.

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will have to shave 5 percent from its budget.

The agency said the cuts will go into effect right after July 4th in the form of furloughing employees.

"When you're looking at 4 days unpaid leave for 12,000 individuals at a government agency, it's not easy nor is it painless," said Director of Communications for NOAA Ciaran Clayton.

The cuts will save between $17 and $18 million, according to Clayton. NOAA is the parent company for the National Weather Service and with Florida in hurricane season by mid July, the furloughs could impact more than just pay checks.

"The national hurricane center will be totally on top this season. I have no doubts, but there may be some slight adjustments in how they handle the season," said Channel 4 Chief Meteorologist, John Gaughn. "For instance, when a watch or warning goes up, instead of it being a little more precise like it has in the last decade or so, they may have to widen out the areas that will be mostly impacted by a tropical of a hurricane."

"We are planning to make sure that the weather offices are staffed," said Clayton. "What this might mean is that if we propose a furlough day on July 5th, for example, if there is a severe storm barreling down on the gulf or east coast we'll keep offices open and have folks take a different furlough day than the rest of the agency. We have a contingency plan in place."

These furloughs are just a proposal at this point, right now the proposal is in the hands of the National Weather Service Union, after that it goes to NOAA managers for final approval.

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