People take weather reporting for granted, which for decades has been the case. The National Weather Service, the core of the nation’s weather tracking operations remains open, for now.
The government already has announced, “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.”
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric (NOAA) division of the federal government, the parent of the National Weather Service, is also shut down. It oversees the government’s work on aviation, which is part of hurricane tracking, and its fishery service, and much of its research operations are not staffed at all or are staffed very lightly. The weather has been deemed essential to fund. Whether that will continue if the government shutdown stretches out several more weeks is in question.
One part of the weather reporting section of the NOAA that is not open is the department that handles weather research. That means groups like scientists and the press don’t have access to past data. Years of detailed data is locked in computers that are not running.
Parts of the National Weather Service are critical to national safety. The National Weather Service performs a number of essential functions. Among these are forecasts for snow, rainfall, high winds and air quality. At this point of the year, snow forecasts are particularly important. Some storms are dumping feet of snow across the northern tier of the country. Current conditions show a winter storm that stretches across 12 states.
The National Weather Service also continues to provide weather data at the city and even ZIP code level. What will happen if that ends is anyone’s guess, but it will affect almost everyone in the country.