Meteorologists and other National Weather Service employees in Flowood are tracking several powerful storms moving through Mississippi — without pay or knowing when their paychecks will arrive.
The National Weather Service is one of several federal agencies affected by a partial government shutdown, prompted by the stalemate over President Donald Trump’s insistence that Congress provide funding for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
National Weather Service employees who work during the shutdown will eventually receive pay for their work when the Washington gridlock ends. When that will occur remains an unknown.
“We are here today, and we’ll continue to work like we normally do,” Latrice Maxie, a meteorologist with the agency in Flowood, told Mississippi Today. “We’re considered essential, so we’re here working today and every day.”
Maxie said the shutdown affects approximately 30 employees in the agency’s Rankin County office.
The staff at the National Weather Service tracks severe weather and alerts the state-funded Mississippi Emergency Management Agency about watches and warnings. Local television stations also rely on the National Weather Service to update viewers on watches and warnings.
Strong thunderstorms are expected across the state on Thursday, with a possibility of tornadoes and flash flooding.
Gov. Phil Bryant has received several briefings from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency about the severe weather potential this week. Both Bryant and MEMA posted National Weather Service graphics to Twitter on Wednesday and Thursday morning to alert the public about the threat.
“Everyone should be weather aware and cautious on the roads,” Bryant tweeted Thursday morning.
A EF-1 tornado touched down on Jan. 22 in Covington and Jones counties during a partial government shutdown that also affected employees at the National Weather Service. One injury was reported during the storm.