FORT MYERS, Fla. - Congress is considering cuts to the government's weather team at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). The head of the National Weather Service workers union warns it could mean a stormy forecast for Floridians' safety.
"Somewhere in the country, somebody's going to die because of this," said Dan Sobian, president of the National Weather Service Employee Organization, worried about proposed budget cuts to NOAA.
"There's going to be furloughs and reduced services from, say, the Hurricane Center, and from the National Weather Service Office," Sobian said.
House Republicans have proposed slashing millions from NOAA as part of a larger spending reduction plan for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year. If approved, the cuts would begin in March and continue through October-- which would include much of the upcoming hurricane season.
"Could potentially cost people's lives, things like hurricane forecasts and tornado warnings, they'll be much worse," Sobian said. "It'll be like it was decades ago in the 90's and 80's."
Supporters in the House Appropriations Committee argue the plan actually preserves crucial NOAA funding for a satellite program.
But Sobian argues if the cuts are approved, it could limit the Weather Service's ability to provide timely storm warnings; and crucial information from hurricane hunter flights could be lost if the agency can't afford to fly its planes.
"Sure there are some places that can be cut, and things trimmed, but you don't cut essential services that save people's lives," Sobian said.
The spending cuts face an uphill battle, with opposition from some Democrats, and the White House.