SLIDELL- As Congress wrangles over how to address the country’s deficit problem, federal agencies are preparing for billions in budget cuts. One of those agencies is the National Weather Service.
At the NWS Slidell office, everyday forecasting is still on track, for now.
"Our budgeting has been barely, barely adequate," said Regional Director of the National Weather Service, Southern portion, Bill Proenza.
The Weather Service, a federal agency, is like dozens of others waiting on the outcome of the fiscal cliff compromise made at the beginning of the year, which called for billions in budget cuts, but not for two months. Proenza says even without new cuts, money has been tight.
"As we struggle to make ends meet, and save money wherever we can, to have these amounts of money that are necessary to move people to a work site where they are needed to fill a vacancy, we've been somewhat delayed," he said.
So the region’s 40-plus offices are running the same with fewer people, and in some cases, operating with less. While an idea to cut off radar on sunny days to save money has been scrapped, travel has been limited.
"Our travel has to do with preparedness for the community for severe weather and the response and recovery for a community in being able to assess the storms after the storms have left and of course the training of our people and the maintenance of our equipment," said Proenza.
Any effects on the Weather Service trickle down to local governments and even local television stations like Eyewitness News that rely on data from Weather Service offices.
Eyewitness News Chief Meteorologist Carl Arredondo said, "Warnings, for instance, come from the National Weather Service and we relay that as quickly as we can to our viewers of Eyewitness News."
The deadline for Congress to find common ground on the country’s finances is in March.