It's impossible to predict how long the partial government shutdown will continue, but weather forecasters would like to know

Published: Jan. 18, 2019 at 3:33 PM AKST
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Among the 800,000 federal workers who are working without pay are National Weather Service weather forecasters.

Although the weather clearly does not care that the U.S. government is partially shut down, many Alaskans rely on the information NWS employees provide to fly safely, work out at sea and navigate rivers if there is ice or not.

"As time goes on, I think people are starting to be a little more serious about it," said Dave Snider with the National Weather Service. "They're staring to think about 'What does this mean if this goes on another week and I miss another paycheck? What happens if it goes on for another month and I have to think about what do I do about the mortgage?' It becomes serious really quick."

Despite working without pay, employees at the National Weather Service are still working to publish forecasts and warnings that everyone relies on.

"We are reliant on the government satellites and government radar and it all gets processed and sent to us through the government and the National Weather Service," Tracy Sinclair a meteorologist at KTUU said. "So we really do rely on them just for that kind of equipment because no stations going to have that kind of ability to have their own satellite."

Snider says he's worried about the younger staff in his office who don't have a lot of savings and have student loans to pay back.

He says people in his office have started leaving canned food and gift cards for the co-workers who need a little help.

"I worry about my co-workers, especially the new ones, they haven't had time to build up an emergency fund or savings," Snider said. "So I think as we go on long and longer we'll see more of those concerns trickling up."