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Hurricane Center Could Be Part Of NOAA’s Planned Furloughs

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(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – For many Americans, the impacts of sequestration have been hard to quantify past some added inconvenience at the airport. But NOAA’s plans to deal with sequestration could have an impact on weather forecasts and the National Hurricane Center.

NOAA has announced plans for four furlough days for nearly all of the 12,000 people it employs, including those workers at the National Hurricane Center on Florida International University’s campus in Miami-Dade County.

NOAA oversees the National Weather Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, the National Hurricane Center, and other forecast offices.

The furloughs come due to sequestration and other budget cuts. Overall, NOAA’s administration was forced to cut its budget by 7 percent in fiscal year 2013, according to CNN. NOAA tried to cuts spending earlier in the year by implementing a hiring freeze at all agencies, including the NWS.

The National Weather Service Employees Organization said the furloughs are a threat and akin to playing chicken with people’s lives.

“Furloughs to the National Weather Service, in conjunction with furloughs to the other agencies the nation depends on for emergency services, is like playing “chicken” with the American public,” said NWSEO President Dan Sobien. “One missed event would realistically, cost millions. NOAA is risking everything and has nothing to gain. It’s not a sound decision.”

A plan released in mid-April listed the proposed dates for the furloughs as: July 5, July 19, August 5, and August 30. The final date concerns hurricane forecasters because it’s right in the middle of the height of hurricane season, but all of the dates are in the Atlantic hurricane season.

The National Weather Service has had to tread lightly in after getting involved in what was deemed a “reprogramming” scandal last year. The federal agency, moved or “reprogrammed” millions of dollars between accounts to avoid some cuts without Congressional approval.

NOAA administrators told CNN that the impact on public services will be “minimized” and “if a major event requires more staff, furloughs would be canceled.”

All planned furloughs must be taken before September 30, 2013, the end of the 2013 fiscal year for federal employees.

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