Do you know the National Weather Service mission? The NWS mission is “The Preservation of Life and Property and the Enhancement of the National Economy.”

Do you know what happens during a government shutdown? As a manager I can tell you it’s a royal pain! I will emphasize—it is a pain.

No one is allowed to leave the office to meet with congressional representatives, law enforcement, the public, etc. All tours are cancelled.

You are not allowed to call in sick or take vacation. If you are sick or have surgery you are not allowed to come back to the office til the shutdown is over. If you are in on vacation and a shutdown occurs you are not allowed back in the office til the shutdown is over. This is because sick leave and annual leave are “paid leave.”

During a shutdown there is no money therefore there is no “paid leave.” As you can imagine, this can leave an office short-staffed with people working a lot of extra hours. This can be very stressful, even more so during a severe weather event. Years ago a study was done that showed that a forecaster working a severe weather event is under the same stress as a neurosurgeon during surgery. Being short-handed makes it worse. Even though we have been paid after every shutdown is over there is no law that states that we have to. It is always up to Congress.

Do you believe the National Weather Service is “essential” during a government shutdown? I say yes.

Without the NWS there would be no commercial flights, no marine traffic into ports, no briefings of firefighters during wildfires, no briefings during hazardous spills, and no briefings during radiation leaks.

I hope this helps everyone understand what the NWS does. Are you surprised?

My first “real” column will be April 3, and thereafter it will be bi-weekly.

I look forward to serving the East Mountain community. If you have any suggestions for topics please email me at I also have a Facebook page called East Mountains Weather. Find our growing group and join the fun.