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Drought Monitor Sill Active Amid Shutdown


Despite a partial shutdown of the federal government, the U.S. Drought Monitor Map is still online, and being updated.

That’s despite three of the four agencies responsible for it being closed.

Those three are the USDA, NOAA, and the Department of Commerce.

The fourth agency, the National Drought Mitigation Center  is still open for business.

Brian Fuchs, with the center, said that four of the eleven people who author the drought monitor have been furloughed.

Which means more work for the remaining seven employees.

Fuchs said that will mean extending the usual two week shifts each takes in charge of creating the drought monitor map.

"After a couple weeks of that, you dedicate a lot of time and we all have other duties that we're responsible for, and you start getting worn out by just the continuous and constant stream of information that's flowing across your desk in putting together the weekly product," he said.

Fuchs said that the employees still working are with the mitigation center and subsets of the closed agencies that have been deemed essential, like the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center.

He said that much of the data they rely on is collected by federal agencies, but actually provided by state agencies, automated systems, and universities.

So, Fuchs said, they have been able to go right to the source and still get the data they need.

Scott Stuntz is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.