NWS Union Chief Blames Busted D.C. Snow Forecasts on Hiring Slow Down

Tourists brave the torrents of snow on March 6, 2013. (AP)

Tourists brave the torrents of snow on March 6, 2013. (AP)


The president of the National Weather Service’s labor union attributed the recent botched snow forecasts for the Washington D.C. area to a hiring slow down at the NWS in an interview with the Washington Post:

The freeze comes less than two week after a grievance was filed against the NWS by its labor union, the National Weather Service Employees Organization (NWSEO), for failure to fill 21 lead forecaster positions.

“The National Weather Service already has a vacancy rate of nearly 10 percent due to a hiring slow down by NOAA that started way before anyone ever heard of sequestration; the vacancy rate at the office that serves Washington DC is nearly 20 percent,” said Daniel Sobien, president of the NWSEO. “This staffing shortage is causing essential products that the public depends on, to be at least temporarily discontinued and forecasts, like those for the last two winter storms in the Washington DC area, to be way off the mark.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees the NWS, announced Thursday the agency will implement a hiring freeze immediately due to budget uncertainty.

The NWSEO is demanding that hiring freeze be lifted, according to the Post.

The federal government closed on March 6 on NWS forecasts of six to 10 inches of snow, which turned out to be rain for much of the D.C. area.