As Tropical Storm Karen approaches land, some National Weather Service employees are questioning if the agency is prepared. Thousands of federal employees who play a role in predicting storms have been sent home because of the government shutdown.

NOAA employee: With storm coming, we're understaffed due to furlough

A tropical storm is bearing down on the Gulf Coast, expected to hit land this weekend, but due to the government shutdown and furloughs, the federal agency that predicts storms, furloughed employees of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, said the department is short staffed.  

Our Washington, D.C. newsroom learned that more than half of the 12,000 employees are on furlough.  NOAA overseas the National Weather Service, the group who sends the alerts out when weather becomes dangerous.  

A National Weather Service union representative, who predicts storm surges, said she is concerned about the impacts of Tropical Storm Karen if she and her co-workers are not on the job.  

Amy Fritz, when asked if she was concerned about safety said, "I'm concerned about the American public.  Yes, I'm concerned about the coastlines that are vulnerable to storm surge."

The National Weather Service said they are staffed properly and is ready for Tropical Storm Karen. 

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.