Is The National Weather Service On The Verge Of Collapse?

Surf and wind from Hurricane Matthew crash on the waterfront in Baracoa, Cuba, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. The dangerous Category 4 storm blew ashore around dawn in Haiti. It unloaded heavy rain as it swirled on toward a lightly populated part of Cuba and the Bahamas. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Surf and wind from Hurricane Matthew crash on the waterfront in Baracoa, Cuba, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. The dangerous Category 4 storm blew ashore around dawn in Haiti. It unloaded heavy rain as it swirled on toward a lightly populated part of Cuba and the Bahamas. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

The National Weather Service, a service I grew up knowing as the place that puts those really annoying beeps and tones in the middle of TV shows when it rains, could be interrupting broadcasts for the last time soon.

The NWS workers union predicts the agency is on the verge of collapse, and they are blaming the agency’s misappropriated spending as the primary cause.

The National Weather Service (NWS) is dealing with hundreds of vacant positions in the wake of a series of extreme weather events that have plagued the U.S.

“The National Weather Service … for the first time in its history is close to teetering on the brink of failure,” the NWS’s labor union, the NWS Employees Organization, said in a statement earlier this week.

The union went on to slam NWS leadership, saying it “has been incapable of placing their budget priorities correctly, spending money on Management conferences and blended models rather than on filling the nearly 700 vacant forecast positions.”

As someone who lives in the Gulf South, in a place that has a history of flooding, and is very hot in the summer, the National Weather Service is kind of an important service in my life. So, this kind of story does cause me to worry a little bit.

However, the NWS is pushing back against the claims.

“Let me state emphatically that we would never take an action that would jeopardize the services we provide to emergency managers and the public,” Susan Buchanan told the Post.

“NWS is taking definitive steps to ensure the health and well-being of our employees through guidance to local managers on scheduling and flexibility.”

So, yeah, bit of a conflict, and it’s pretty hard to tell which side is right.

On the one hand, you’ve got a government agency, a classification that is not without spending and employment issues in its past (recall the GSA scandal from a few years back?). Conferences and other events are treated as luxury vacations and are paid for as such.

However, on the other hand, you have a labor union that has for years been hounding the agency in order to get more hires, and therefore more members, and therefore more dues. They are not a party that is solely interested in the public good. And, labor unions are also known for predicting the worst in order to scare up support for their demands.

I don’t know who to believe in this story, but I do have a general fondness for the NWS because I might be down a few friends and family if not for the worth they do.