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Government shutdown may jeopardize weather warnings

Meteorologists miss world's largest weather conference

Scientists share research progress without fellow federal meteorologists during the 2019 AMS Annual Conference.
Scientists share research progress without fellow federal meteorologists during the 2019 AMS Annual Conference.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – The government shutdown is having an impact on future weather prediction as hundreds of federal meteorologists miss out on the world's largest weather conference. 

Front and center on the National Weather Service website you see a notice:

Due to the government shutdown, all public National Weather Service 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. 

However this year, due to the partial federal government shutdown, hundreds of scientists will not attend The American Meteorological Society conference in Phoenix.

At the start of the meeting Monday morning in Phoenix, the AMS Council said shutdowns like this give other nations the lead in overseas competition in scientific leadership.

Unfortunately, the current U.S. government shutdown—and the associated uncertainty—is now beginning to seriously set back efforts to better understand and forecast our environment and protect the nation’s health and prosperity, according to the AMS. 

National Weather Service forecasters who work without pay during a shutdown, like their peers in other essential government services, experience mounting financial and emotional stress. 

Years of research are jeopardized when federal scientists cannot collect uninterrupted data. When government researchers no longer maintain collaborations with their peers in academia and industry, our nation, and each and every citizen, loses out.

The impacts of a government shutdown ripple far beyond those who are furloughed and can impede development of new scientific technologies that are vital to our nation.