During the government shutdown, our local National Weather Service is still performing its normal operational duties such as issuing forecasts and severe weather watches and warnings and taking weather observations like the daily weather balloon launches at their Old Hickory office. 

While designated “essential emergency excepted employees,” workers are not getting paid until the shutdown is over.   

During this time, NWS cannot hold any extracurricular activities such as its public spotter classes and other public educational services.  

MORE: What’s impacted by the government shutdown?

A media workshop planned for next Thursday with local tv, radio and other media weather personnel will not take place either if the shutdown doesn’t end by then.  

During the shutdown, the National Weather Service can’t have office visits or job shadows.

Employees also can’t attend meetings, such as the annual American Meteorological Society conference that just wrapped up in Phoenix, AZ.  Many NWS employees are usually presenters and speakers at the conference each year.  

Jason Wright, the local National Weather Service union steward explains the importance of those meetings:

“You have these people who are not able to interact and share science, share ideas, and share thoughts.  And that could mean a situation where people’s lives are at risk.”

Perhaps the biggest impact is on training exercises and research.

Trainers and researchers at the Warning Decision and Training Division in Norman, OK actually teach the local National Weather Service forecasters and radar operators how to issue severe weather alerts such as tornado warnings.

According to Justin Gibbs, a trainer at WDTD, “All of the WDTD federal employees are furloughed until this is over.”

In addition, he says research he is doing is suspended and that he cannot even access his government email.

Locally, although employees at our NWS office in Nashville are working without being paid, Wright assures us that he and his fellow meteorologists are dedicated employees, and will continue to serve at the highest of their ability.

Click here for more coverage of the government shutdown.