New storm at weather service

To make up a $26 million budget deficit, the National Weather Service says it is considering forcing its entire 5,000 workforce to take 13 furlough days before the federal fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.

It's hard to know how much of this is budget brinkmanship, but the agency has weathered its share of troubles in recent months.

They include the threat of cuts to the technical staff; a financial brouhaha over the movement of funds, and the "retirement" of director Jack Hayes, announced late in the day on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend.

Scott Smullen, spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, acknowleged today that the furloughs are under consideration.

In a statement, he said, "NOAA is committed to doing everything within its authority to avoid furloughs."

It is worth noting that the cuts would involve every office, including the National Hurricane Center during what is usually the peak hurricane period.

The weather-service union is not particularly happy about the proposal.

Said union president Dan Sobien, weather-service employees "are paying for the mistakes of the agency's leadership."

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