No, Sequestration Didn’t Affect the Tornado Forecast This Time

President Barack Obama speaks about the tornadoes that devastated Oklahoma joined by Vice President Joe Biden, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino at the White House on May 21, 2013.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Moore, OK tornado is the first devastating natural disaster since budget sequestration went into place two months ago. At that time, Democrats warned that NOAA and the National Weather Service were already falling behind and could hardly put up with a round of cuts or furloughs. Happily, though, neither agency has cut back yet—there wasn’t any real-time cutback that affected the outlook before the tornado hit Oklahoma.

“There are currently no furloughs in place at the National Weather Service—or anywhere within NOAA,” said Ciaran Clayton, a spokesman for the agency, via email. “We are still in good faith negotiations with our unions on our proposal—which is for four furlough days across NOAA—some 12,000 employees (due to sequestration, the NWS was facing up to 10 days of furloughs, and other offices within NOAA were facing up to 20—in order to mitigate that on our employees and operations, we have proposed 4 furlough days across the organization).  Employees are entitled to a 30-day furlough notice as well—and as of today those have not been issued.”

But no one’s really discussing upping the agencies’ budgets. Oklahoma’s senators, James Inhofe and Tom Coburn, both opposed aid after Hurricane Sandy; today, Inhofe was still seething that Sandy money went to some other states that weren’t affected. Coburn wants to offset any aid to Oklahoma with cuts elsewhere.