Trump is proposing cutting 248 weather forecasters from tornado alley — and red-state Oklahoma is freaking out
Oklahoma voted overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump and now the Republican leader is hitting back against his most loyal supporters, KFOR news reported.
In his budget, Trump has proposed gutting the National Weather Service in an area of the country that depends on forecasters and meteorologists to protect them from extreme weather events. Norman, Oklahoma is the location of one of
“For some bizarre reason, the president is proposing to cut 248 forecasters,” National Weather Service Legislative Director Richard Hirn told KFOR.
“Should the public be concerned about these potential staff cuts? I think the answer is yes because – even though you see things coming down the pipe for days, sometimes weeks in advance – even those last few minutes or hours can make a huge difference on the outcome as to what type of severe weather in this particular case that we may receive,” KFOR meteorologist Mike Morgan explained.
The NWS could lose more than 350 staffers, the vast majority of which would be forecasters.
“The Trump administration has proposed to effectively eliminate 20 percent of the forecasters or front-line operational employees at the 122 forecast offices around the country,” Hirn said.
Hirn warned it could mean closing the NWS in Norman during nights and on weekends. Many of the state’s worst tornadoes have been late in the afternoon and a powerful storm doesn’t check the calendar to see whether it’s Monday through Friday.
“That office would be closed in the evening and another office, maybe in Tulsa or in Texas, will be responsible for issuing the warnings,” Hirn said.
Weather warnings aren’t the only concern, the National Weather Service data is used by airports to determine safety for takeoff and landing of planes.
“It would be fair to say I think, if there was any delay of information regarding weather really when it’s inclement weather, that that could have an impact on our operations and our traveling public,” Will Rogers Airport Spokesperson Karen Carney said.
Since the first EF5 tornado to hit Moore, Oklahoma May 3, 1999, Oklahoma has had six EF5 tornadoes. Since the 1999 outbreak, Oklahoma has had 1,193 tornadoes and 3,739 since 1950. The National Weather Service might be headquartered in Oklahoma, but it also helps other satellite locations with forecasting in neighboring red states. That includes Kansas, which suffered from a severe EF5 tornado that wiped Greensburg off the map in 2007. Missouri similarly had a major EF5 tornado that hit Joplin in 2011.
In 2013, the NWS got a boost to their budget so that they could improve computing power needed to make quicker forecasts and save more lives.
Watch the report below: