The National Weather Service notified its union on Thursday that it plans to furlough up to 5,000 employees for a total of 13 days between July and September if Congress and the department cannot find $36 million to cover its budget deficit.

Weather Service officials acknowledged in their memo to the union that requiring employees to take unpaid leave would seriously disrupt critical weather operations at the peak of hurricane season.

But with labor costs of $2 million a day, the Weather Service cannot pay its employees through the end of the fiscal year in September without a solution to a problem of its own making. An internal investigation concluded that for several years, the department reallocated millions of dollars Congress approved for a variety of projects in order to pay employees.

The investigation prompted the abrupt retirement of the Weather Service’s director, John L. “Jack” Hayes, after the replacement of the agency’s chief financial officer.

Read the rest of the story, including remarks from members of Congress, at the Federal Eye blog. Feel free to discuss/comment below....