National Weather Service Forecasts Frustration of Federal Workers

The government may stop, but the weather will not.

It's why approximately 80 percent of National Weather Service employees remain hard at work tracking storms and issuing alerts.

A statement on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website says it will continue to be maintained because it contains information that will "protect life and property." But due to the shutdown, the meteorologists and researchers will not receive pay until Congress reaches a budget agreement. The National Weather Service is part of NOAA.

Last week, an employee in Anchorage, Alaska, inscribed "PLEASE PAY US" into a weather forecast, a move that has caused some fallout within the agency, said Dan Sobien, the national president of the National Weather Service Employees Organization.

"There's a pretty high level of frustration among people," Sobien said. "Any time there's a political disagreement in Washington, federal employees are getting kicked in the shins. That was the face of frustration."

Sobien added that the union does not endorse what the employee did. He has heard, however, people within the organization and in other federal agencies express their support, calling the employee "a hero."

Local newspapers have picked up on the humor of "essential" versus "nonessential" government functions in light of the shutdown. After reading why weather forecasts would continue to be issued during the D.C. standoff, Editor Kurt Hildebrand of the small-town Nevada newspaper The Record-Courier editorialized in the print edition:

"We're still getting National Weather Service forecasts, because they've been deemed essential due to the fact that we're still getting weather. Expect today's weather to be sunny and cool with a high temperature of 57 degrees. Wind will be out of the east at 10-15 mph, gusting to 25 mph."

Jokes aside, employees at the National Weather Service are feeling the pocketbook pain that has been expressed by many federal agency employees awaiting paychecks. As for when Congress will appropriate funding, the forecast is bleak.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.