Storm prediction agency scraps furlough plans

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The federal agency which issued tornado warnings this week has suspended plans for across-the-board employee furloughs that would kick as the summer hurricane season kicks in.

Ciaran Clayton, communications director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the agency is canceling plans to furlough its 12,000 employees for as many as 20 days between July and September, when the federal fiscal year ends.

The cuts would hit the agency amid what their own forecasters announced a week ago is expected to be an above-normal hurricane season.

NOAA announced the cuts earlier this year as a cost-saving measure necessitated by the forced federal spending cuts known in Washington as sequestration.

An internal memo sent to NOAA employees late Friday from agency head Kathryn Sullivan cited recent deadly tornadoes around the Midwest. The memo was published by The Washington Post.

"The events over the past week, including more devastating tornadoes tonight in Oklahoma and Missouri, remind us how important every single employee within NOAA is to the health, safety, and well-being of this nation," she wrote. "I want to thank you all for continued commitment and dedication even in times of danger to your lives, families, and property. The work you do truly is important to each and every American from coast to coast."

The memo said a "new sequestration plan" had been developed and "we are cancelling our intent to furlough all 12,000 of our employees."

In May, NOAA forecasters predicted between 13 and 20 named storms in the Atlantic this hurricane season, which began on Saturday and runs through October.