Weather services could be delayed in Oklahoma with proposed cuts

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OKLAHOMA CITY – The Trump administration has introduced proposals to cut several, federal-funded agencies. One of the agencies is the National Weather Service.

“For some bizarre reason, the president is proposing to cut 248 forecasters,” said Richard Hirn, General Counsel and Legislative Director with the NWS Employees Union.

It’s a cut that could affect how we get our weather.

“Should the public be concerned about these potential staff cuts? I think the answer is yes because – even though you see things coming down the pipe for days, sometimes weeks in advance – even those last few minutes or hours can make a huge difference on the outcome as to what type of severe weather in this particular case that we may receive,” said News 4 Chief Meteorologist Mike Morgan.

And, it could affect how we travel.

“The airport relies on weather information we monitor. The runway is a taxiway, especially when there’s ice, or rain or fog,” said Karen Carney, Will Rogers Airport Spokesperson.

This month, President Trump submitted proposed cuts to the budget.

The National Weather Service could be losing more than 350 employees, a majority of them being forecasters.

“The Trump administration has proposed to effectively eliminate 20 percent of the forecasters or front-line operational employees at the 122 forecast offices around the country,” Hirn said.

Hirn said the cuts could hit close to home, the office in Norman may be closing its doors on nights and weekends.

“That office would be closed in the evening and another office, maybe in Tulsa or in Texas, will be responsible for issuing the warnings,” Hirn said.

Besides numerous jobs at stake, this could affect businesses that rely on the National Weather Service’s data like Will Rogers Airport.

“It would be fair to say I think, if there was any delay of information regarding weather really when it’s inclement weather, that that could have an impact on our operations and our traveling public,” Carney said.

Hirn said no managerial or supervisor jobs are at risk. He hopes lawmakers vote no on the proposed cuts.

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