National Weather Service on facing challenges of the coronavirus pandemic

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ST. LOUIS - The “Stay at Home” orders currently in effect are having an impact on everyone and every business and every organization.  That National Weather Service is no exception.  

The NWS office in St. Louis has turned to minimum staffing and work from home during this challenging time and that leaves only a couple of forecasters on duty at any one time.  NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist, Kevin Deitsch says there are plans in place to call in extra staff in the event of severe weather.  

However, on normal days, most of the staff are working from home.  Also impacted are the spring severe weather spotter classes which have all been canceled.  However, there are some online options available through COMET an online weather learning website.  

The Coronavirus is also having an impact on the data used to initialize weather forecast models.  In recent years, a significant amount of data has been pulled from sensors on commercial aircraft.  These soundings are especially useful in the lowest levels of the atmosphere.  

Now, with so many flights being canceled, the amount of initialization data provided has decreased.  Fortunately, Deitsch does not believe that will have a major impact on model performance.

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