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National Weather Service Worried About Cuts


TALLAHASSEE, FL. 5-10-13

Federal budget cuts, also known as sequestration could impact the amount of forecasters and meteorologists tracking hurricanes this season.

Ken Gould is a senior forecaster for the National Weather Service based in Tallahassee. The center covers 48 different counties in three different states; Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

Gould says they usually have 23 people on staff but in July that number will drop to 19. He worries when severe storms hit that the NWS won't be prepared.

"It seems to me that politics are being played at a very bad time because our mission, our number one mission, is to protect lives and property," said Gould.

It's the uncertainty that is concerning for Gould.

"Things can pop up immediately in the [Gulf of Mexico] with not enough time to get people and staffing in place."

But what are the chances that the National Weather Service gets short staffed in case of a major storm like a category 5 hurricane? If you remember back in April, furloughs for air traffic controllers led to long lines at the airports. Congress acted quickly to help pay those workers.

"I don't think that any of us would let a safety threat occur for the public but we don't want to get into that situation," said WCTV chief meteorologist Mike McCall.

He says if a potential storm were to hit our area, WCTV and the NWS will step up.

"[WCTV] will be fully staffed. I'm absolutely certain that the [National Weather Service] will do what needs to be done."


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