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May 06, 2020

Environment Subcommittee Chairwoman Sherrill Holds Bipartisan Teleconference on COVID-19 Impacts on NWS Operations and Workforce

 (Washington, DC) – Today, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Subcommittee on Environment held a bipartisan teleconference with Dr. Louis Uccellini, Assistant Administrator for Weather Services and Director of the National Weather Service (NWS); Ms. Mary Erickson, Deputy Director at NWS; and Mr. John Murphy, Chief Operating Officer at NWS. The purpose of the teleconference was to allow Members to conduct oversight of how NWS’s workforce, critical weather prediction, and forecasting have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The dedicated employees of the National Weather Service continue to provide 24/7 staffing of Weather Forecast Offices and issue critical weather and water forecasts, watches, and warnings during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Chairwoman Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) of the Subcommittee on Environment. “All Americans are grateful for the hard work of the Weather Service forecasters across the nation as they provide accurate and timely weather and water information for both day-to-day weather forecasts as well as for severe weather events. This will be especially important as communities begin to prepare for the fast-approaching peak wildfire season, the start of the Atlantic Hurricane season, extreme heat events, as well as powerful seasonal tornadoes which have already impacted many across the Southeastern United States.”

The Members, along with Dr. Uccellini, Ms. Erickson, and Mr. Murphy discussed the impact of COVID-19 on NWS operations and how NWS is keeping essential employees safe as they carry out NWS’s critical mission; how CARES Act funds received by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are being spent by NWS to continue operations; how the NWS hiring process has been impacted by pandemic-related disruptions; and how NWS is working with its partners in federal, state, and local emergency management to help communities prepare for extreme weather events during the pandemic.

“It is a priority for this Committee that we ensure the committed and indispensable employees of the National Weather Service have the resources and support they need as they continue to work around the clock to provide Americans with lifesaving weather forecasting and information throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). “As communities across the nation prepare for the onset of peak seasons for extreme weather events, we must remain especially vigilant in order to support the agency as it continues to carry out its mission of protecting the life and property of Americans throughout the country.”