Weather service furloughs still in forecast

As reported, the government says that a hiring freeze imposed last month isn't enough: It will have to find ways to cut more costs at the National Weather Service.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said that it might have to furlough all 12,000-plus NOAA employees, including those who work for the weather service, for four days between July 1 and Sept. 30 -- just in time for hurricane season.

The furloughs wouldn't be haphazard, according to NOAA spokesperson Ciaran Clayton, who stated:: "We are working to ensure that furloughs would be managed managed carefully to insure that adequate coverage is maintained be staggered."

Said Clayton: "We are still working through the union consultation process."

"Those discussion have not yet begun," Richard Hirn, general counsel for the National Weather Service Employees Organization, said the other day.

He reiterated that the savings would be paltry and not worth the risks. By his estimate, the furloughs would amount to just under $18 million in cuts, or about 0.6 percent of the entire weather service budget.

He added that weather service employees haven't had a raise in three years. The local Mount Holly office is down two staffers, and about to lose a third.

Congressman Chaka Fattah, the Philadelphia Democrat who is the ranking member on the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, notes that the process still has a long way to go.

Fattah has been one of the agency's biggest suporters, and said he'll try to find ways to bring down the fulrough numbers.

Stay tuned.