Now Can We Stop Cutting the Weather Service?
Oklahoma tornado should be a warning: David Sirota
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2013 12:55 PM CDT
The rubble of a destroyed neighborhood lay where they fell a day earlier Tuesday, May 21, 2013, after a tornado moved through Moore, Okla.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

(Newser) – The National Weather Service had a warning in effect 16 minutes before yesterday's tragic Oklahoma tornado—but we may not be as prepared next time around, thanks to the sequester's 8.2% cut to the Weather Service, David Sirota writes on Salon. The organization representing weather service employees has warned that thanks to the cuts, it won't be able to maintain 24/7 operations at all of its offices—and overworked employees will likely miss weather warnings. "Though the last few years saw a record number of billion-dollar weather cataclysms, the weather service remains a perennial target for budget cuts," Sirota writes.

In fact, conservatives have even called for the Weather Service to be eliminated entirely. "It’s a classic self-fulfilling sophistry of the right: Ignore the positive work an agency does, keep the agency’s budget flat so that its capabilities do not keep up with the times, then cite the agency’s reduced capabilities as justification to keep cutting it," Sirota writes. But maybe yesterday's devastation will finally steer us away from that path. Consider just how bad it was—and, therefore, how much worse it could have been had our weather forecasting system been dismantled. Click for Sirota's full column.

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May 22, 2013 8:59 AM CDT
Maybe if someone was running a radar for profit we could save only the lives that matter.
May 21, 2013 7:10 PM CDT
Last year either before or after Sandy someone emailed one of our TV weatherpeople and asked why European weather models and predictions were so much more accurate than ours. The answer was that Europe spends more money on their weather service while here we keep cutting back. That in and of itself should be a major embrarassment. Think of it; we can't even PREDICT OUR OWN WEATHER as well as the Europeans can! It's a disgrace. And now it's costing lives.
May 21, 2013 6:53 PM CDT
In smaller population areas the NWS may be important, but in my community the local TV stations beat the crap out of the NWS for sophistication and speed. Not needed here.