As a potential shutdown of the Federal government draws closer, a looming question is: what would happen to products and services provided by the National Weather Service (NWS) ? Would NWS continue to issue forecasts, watches, warnings, and advisories? A NOAA official says yes.

“Agency operational plans are still being finalized, but our current understanding is NOAA will provide weather services to protect lives and property,” the official said. “We still believe there is an opportunity to avoid a government shutdown, but are working to ensure that we are prepared for all possible scenarios.”

During the last Federal shutdown in 1996, NWS offices remained at least partially operational. For example, the NWS Office in Sterling, Va. disseminated forecasts and warnings during the Blizzard of 1996 which coincided with the shutdown. In order to pay some contract employees and even utility bills at NWS offices, the agency used 1995 carry-over funds (according to an article published in the Washington Post on 1/17/96).

NOAA officials have not provided specifics about which products and services are considered essential and would be supported during a shutdown.