Employees At National Weather Service Working For Free During Shutdown

Friday, October 4th 2013, 4:46 pm
By: Craig Day

With our weather changing rapidly, and with everything from blizzards to tropical weather happening in other parts of the country, it's good to know the National Weather Service is still working, despite the government shutdown.

But they're doing it for free.

At the National Weather Service office in Tulsa, it looks pretty much like a normal day. For the most part it is normal, but because of the federal government shutdown, none of the employees are getting paid.

"We all know why we're here, we all know we have an important function, so we're here," said Steve Piltz.

It's a good thing employees at 122 National Weather Service forecast offices across the country are working. Several major weather events are hitting at once. Some parts of the Rockies and upper plains could get two feet of snow.

And then there's Tropical Storm Karen in the Gulf. And Oklahoma's weather will change dramatically with storms.

10/2/2013 Related Story: Shutdown Of Federal Government Continues

The employees are still working even though they aren't getting paid, because they fall under a category of federal employee called "mission critical."

"You don't plug up a clock just to, when you want to know the time," Piltz said. "The clock needs to run, we need to run 24/7, so that we always have continuity with all the data, we know what the trends are. You just can't walk in cold and know what is going to happen."

At this point, with the government shutdown, they're not really sure when their paychecks will show up again. They'll keep working, especially with so many storms happening, and hoping the political storm subsides in Washington soon.

"If you have a weather radio it's going to go off, if you receive weather service warnings on your phone or something like that, you're going to get those warnings. Everything is in place to protect you from severe weather just as it always was," Piltz said.

Employees at the National storm prediction center and the national hurricane center are also still working, while lawmakers try to work out the budget battle.

10/3/2013 Related Story: Furloughs Hit Oklahoma National Guard Members Amid Government Shutdown