Possible changes coming for National Weather Service

Offices with the National Weather Service could go from operating 24-seven to just five days a week. It's part of a plan that agency leaders hope evolves the organization and creates a "weather-ready nation."

The National Weather Service is considering changing some of its offices from a 24/7 operation to normal business hours.

The changes would better align its operations staffing to the needs of communities around the country, according to NWS Director of Public Relations Susan Buchanan.

Buchanan hopes the plan will evolve the organization and creates a "weather-ready nation."

However, the plan wouldn't call for a reduction in workforce. Offices wouldn't close and people wouldn't be laid off, but some offices could cut hours to regular business hours.

On Wednesday, ahead of severe storms moving into East Tennessee, almost all work stations inside the National Weather Service office in Morristown were staffed.     

"In the height of it, we'd probably have about 10 people in operations and with much more than that we don't have enough computers around or space," said Meteorologist in charge, George Mathews.

The staffing model in Morristown is the same right now as every NWS office in the country.

The agency wants to evolve their operations to "better align our staffing profile and workload to better meet our partners’ growing need for impact-based decision support services."

Their plan to evolve started in 2011 after the deadly tornadoes that hit Joplin, Missouri.

According to Buchanan, the ultimate goal is to save more lives by going beyond forecasting to link their forecasts and warnings to actual decisions that save lives.

As storms move through Wednesday, despite changes in the forecast, their message to everyone is stay safe and take cover.

"Make sure you have a plan, and go back over those plans cause we haven't had nearly as many tornado watches and warnings the past few years in east Tennessee and need to be ready for it," Mathews emphasized.

© 2017 WBIR.COM


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