Possible changes coming for National Weather Service

The National Weather Service is considering changing some of its offices from a 24/7 operation to just five days a week.

NWS Director of Public Relations Susan Buchanan hopes the plan will evolve the organization and creates a "weather-ready nation."

However, the plan wouldn't call for a reduction in workforce. Offices wouldn't close and people wouldn't be laid off, but some offices could cut hours to regular business hours.

On Wednesday, ahead of severe storms moving into East Tennessee, almost all work stations inside the National Weather Service office in Morristown were staffed.    

"In the height of it, we'd probably have about 10 people in operations and with much more than that we don't have enough computers around or space," said Meteorologist in charge, George Mathews.

The staffing model in Morristown is the same right now as every NWS office in the country.

The agency wants to evolve their operations to "better align our staffing profile and workload to better meet our partners’ growing need for impact-based decision support services."

Their plan to evolve started in 2011 after the deadly tornadoes that hit Joplin, Missouri.

According to Buchanan, the ultimate goal is to save more lives by going beyond forecasting to link their forecasts and warnings to actual decisions that save lives.

As storms move through Wednesday, despite changes in the forecast, their message to everyone is stay safe and take cover.

"Make sure you have a plan, and go back over those plans cause we haven't had nearly as many tornado watches and warnings the past few years in east Tennessee and need to be ready for it," Mathews emphasized.

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3 NWS radar sites down during severe weather outbreak; NWS calls for more storm spotter reports, enabled by unique AccuWeather technology

As AccuWeather has been forecasting, severe thunderstorms will continue to put lives and property in danger as they march across portions of the Southeast and parts of the Ohio Valley through Wednesday night.

This comes at a time when three National Weather Service radars are malfunctioning and out of service in southern Georgia and southeast Alabama, as the area is impacted by severe weather and strong tornadoes.

AccuWeather-produced services remained available and reliable during this outage.

The location of these three radar sites are Moody Air Force Base, Georgia; Fort Rucker, Alabama; and Maxwell, Alabama.

To give eyes on the ground to report sited tornadoes, the NWS Birmingham office sent out notices on social media this morning requesting assistance from storm spotters. These storm reports are enabled by special technology patented by an AccuWeather company, and licensed free of charge to NOAA as a public service, for storm reporting in such situations.


National Weather Service Issued Flood Warning For Susquehanna County

GREAT BEND TOWNSHIP -- The boat launch along the Susquehanna River in Hallstead is already almost covered with water -- and those river levels continue to rise.

With rain in the forecast, the National Weather Service issued a flood warning for Susquehanna County and is expected to last through Saturday.

“Trust me. When they say flood, I get very scared,” said Rita Frailey.

Frailey knows far too well just how bad flooding can be in this area. She lost her home in the flood of 2006 when the river and nearby creek rose up.

Despite putting her home on a concrete foundation, there was still damage in 2011.

“We ended up having to build up and put a new house on top of that and the last flood ended up blowing out our doors. We just got done with construction down in the basement, too. We lost everything there, too,” said Frailey.

Over at the American Legion in Great Bend Township, the building also got hit twice by those floods.

“It was like seven and a half feet downstairs, and we had to bring the bar, new bar up here,” said member Earl Lindsey.

“For the businesses here like the plaza, I'm concerned for them,” said Tom Macleod. “The legion took damage. The businesses in the plaza took damage, so yeah, I'm concerned for them.”

And there's a A good reason for that concern for the shops in Hallstead Plaza, which sits right next to the river.

Inside Reddon's Drug Store, markers are up on the door frame where flood waters once stood.

“It's definitely nerve-wracking, waiting, waiting for the water to go down and stay down, yeah,” said cashier Heather Martyak.

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