Weather systems don’t follow politics. With the federal government far from full strength, Tropical Storm Karen is headed toward the Gulf Coast and expected to make landfall early Saturday, although, at the moment, “The chances of it becoming a hurricane are very low.” So that’s good. Still, Louisiana has declared a state of emergency, and the rest will be improv.
Essential personnel at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are working (without pay), while many meteorologists are furloughed. “What will the federal response to disasters look like during a government shutdown? What percentage of FEMA is considered essential? Certainly not all aspects that should be considered so,” one Naval meteorologist told Quartz. “Can you imagine Congress coming together and passing an emergency spending bill during the shutdown?”
As NBC reports, “The White House said Thursday it would recall employees of the Federal Emergency Management Agency who have been placed on furlough because of the federal government shutdown,” but FEMA’s own website is not exactly comforting: “Due to the lapse in federal funding, portions of this website may not be updated.” The disaster-preparedness site Ready.gov “will not be actively managed.”