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Salon Writer: Okla. Tornado May Have Resulted From Sequester


In a piece titled, “Anyone regret slashing National Weather Service budget now?” Salon writer David Sirota links the tornado in Oklahoma to the sequester, arguing that we should be as prepared as possible for severe weather events, “but there’s an increasing chance that we will not be thanks to the manufactured crisis known as sequestration.”

It is a now familiar pattern. A tragedy occurs, a few hours pass, and then Salon’s resident absurdist David Sirota writes something absurd. After Newtown, Sirota wrote about a racial angle that didn’t exist. After the Boston bombings, Sirota publicly hoped that the perpetrator was “white.” Today, this: 

With GOP-backed cuts to forecasting agency, experts warn future storms will go undetected and more lives lost. . . .

As the Federal Times recently reported, sequestration includes an 8.2 percent cut to the National Weather Service. According to the organization representing weather service employees, that means there is “no way for the agency to maintain around-the-clock operations at its 122 forecasting offices” and also means “people are going to be overworked, they’re going to be tired, they’re going to miss warnings.”

Summarizing the problem, the American Institute of Physics put it bluntly: “The government runs the risk of significantly increasing forecast error and, the government’s ability to warn Americans across the country about high impact weather events, such as hurricanes and tornadoes, will be compromised.”

This didn’t actually happen, of course, as Sirota is forced to concede:

The good news is that the National Weather Service station in Norman, Oklahoma had a warning in effect for 16 minutes before the most recent Oklahoma City tornado hit. That’s better than the 13 minute average, so thankfully, more people probably had more time than usual to evacuate or find safe shelter.

Still, Sirota is asking those difficult open questions favored by people with no evidence to back up their insinuations:

But what about the next time around? Will we be as ready as we can and should be? The answer is maybe not.


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