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Thousands of National Weather Service forecasters would work without pay if the government were to shut down on Friday, including those who oversee weather in North Texas.
Employees at the National Weather Service’s branch in Fort Worth are just some of the hundreds of thousands of federal employees who could be affected by a government shutdown.
Weather service employees are exempt from being furloughed, according to Steven Cooper, director of the weather service’s Southern Region headquarters in Fort Worth. But if a shutdown were to go on for more than a few days, they might have to wait longer for their next paycheck.
“You don’t just stop the weather, of course,” Cooper said. “The pay will eventually come.”
Three offices are based in Fort Worth — the National Weather Service, the West Gulf River Forecast Center and the Southern Region headquarters. The weather service monitors weather for dozens of counties in North and Central Texas, including Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.
In addition to issuing official weather forecasts, the National Weather Service office also is in charge of issuing advisories, watches and warnings to the public in the event of inclement weather conditions.
Cooper, whose 40-plus years of government service include 26 at the regional office, said this wouldn’t be the first time weather service employees would have to go without pay.
“The people are in the weather service because they love weather and they love the mission,” Cooper said. “They love what they’re doing.”
When government shutdowns are a few days long, the financial effects aren’t felt too much, Cooper said. But he remembers a shutdown that went on for more than two weeks — making matters uneasy for some employees.
A strong storm system will approach the region during the middle of next week, bringing the potential for widespread showers and storms back to N. and Cent. TX. Some storms could become severe, but it’s much too early to diagnose specific severe threats. #dfwwx #ctxwx pic.twitter.com/gFuhcuBmrr
— NWS Fort Worth (@NWSFortWorth) December 21, 2018
North Texas is expected to stay dry through Monday, but a chance of rain and storms enters the forecast on Christmas Day into the middle of next week.
The National Weather Service is monitoring a potentially “strong storm system” that could bring a chance of severe weather by Wednesday.
“With all of this in mind, we’ll stress that it’s still too early to start pinpointing specific areas and threats,” said Lee Carlaw, a weather service meteorologist.