This spring, Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Va.) had more than once gently suggested the Department of Commerce not furlough National Weather Service forecasters. Commerce went ahead with a furlough plan anyway. In the aftermath of the Moore, Okla. tornado, Wolf is emphatic the agency reconsider.
“The severe weather events in Oklahoma this week have further convinced me that we should not take any chance that avoidable furloughs might result in a degradation of weather prediction and forecasting services,” Wolf said in his letter to Rebecca Blank, acting secretary of the Department of Commerce.
Under the Department of Commerce furlough proposal, all NOAA employees – including National Weather Service forecasters – would be furloughed four days.
“The four specific days included in the proposal are: July 5, July 19, August 5, and August 30.,” said Ciaran Clayton, a NOAA Spokesperson, who explained employees in “mission critical” positions would likely have furlough days “staggered to maintain services.”
In his letter, Wolf stressed the importance of the NWS’ life and safety mission.
“There should be no higher priority at the Department than ensuring that these critical services are maintained,” Wolf wrote.
The ball is now in the Department of Commerce’s court to respond to Wolf’s letter.