While the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday approved a Senate plan to avoid furloughs of air traffic controlllers, positions responsible for weather observation at BWI Marshall Airport and other airports across the country are at risk.
The Federal Aviation Administration is considering cutting what are known as contract weather observers, who supplement automated meteorologic observation at airports around the country. The observers aren't necessarily meteorologists but they can help verify or expand on forecasting data.
The National Weather Service's Baltimore/Washington office and others around the country were notified of the proposal earlier this month, said Jim Lee, meteorologist in charge at the Sterling, Va., office. The impact of losing the observer would be minimal for normal forecasting, Lee said.
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Lee said it also would not affect aviation forecasting capabilities, either.
The positions are slated to expire starting May 1 at some airports, and as late as July 31 for others.
No final decisions on the positions have been made, FAA officials said. Because the observers are contract employees, they were not subject to the furloughs Congress prevented Friday.