Government Saves Countless Lives From Tornadoes In Koch And Inhofe Country

Our guest blogger is Brad Johnson, campaign manager of Forecast the Facts

Countless lives were saved this weekend by vigilant government officials who warned of deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska — states whose politics are dominated by anti-government, anti-science ideologues. Over 100 tornadoes struck down in 24 hours, but only six people died in Oklahoma, Sen. Jim Inhofe’s home state, thanks to warnings from the National Weather Service scientists he has worked to discredit:

The tornadoes were unrelenting – more than 100 in 24 hours over a stretch of the Plains states. They tossed vehicles and ripped through homes. They drove families to their basements and whipped debris across small towns throughout the Midwest. In some areas, baseball-size hail rained from the sky.

And yet, in a stroke that some officials have attributed to a more vigilant and persistent warning system, relatively few people were killed or injured.

Wichita, Kansas, the headquarters of Koch Industries, suffered $280 million in damage from a ferocious twister, but the “ever-increasing government” demonized by the Koch brothers prevented any loss of life.

Greenhouse pollution from the fossil fuel industries that control the region’s politics is making our weather more extreme and dangerous. The heat trapped by carbon pollution is powering these earlier and more intense storms with record-warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico. As Dr. Jeff Masters wrote on Friday:

This is the warmest March value on record for the Gulf of Mexico, going back over a century of record keeping. During the first two weeks of April, Gulf of Mexico waters remained about 1.5°C above average, putting April on pace to have the warmest April water temperatures on record. Only one year in the past century has had April water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico more than 1.1°C above average; that year was 2002 (1.4°C above average.) All that record-warm water is capable of putting record amounts of water vapor into the air, since evaporation increases when water is warmer. Because moist air is less dense than dry air, this warm, moist air flowing northwards from the Gulf of Mexico into the developing storm system over the Plains will be highly unstable once it encounters cold, dry air aloft. The record-warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico are a key reason for the high risk of severe weather over the Plains this weekend.

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33 Responses to Government Saves Countless Lives From Tornadoes In Koch And Inhofe Country

  1. PAUL DONOHUE says:

    I often feel a little guilty when I feel glad that the red staters are getting hit with climate extremes. I remember when we were all Americans pulling for each other. Too bad that has changed due to the polarization promoted by vested interests today. I hope the red staters will realize their futures are in danger and help elect environmentally concerned candidates.

  2. Fidel Cashflo says:

    Yeah, but Free Enterprise could have done the job. Think about how much money people would spend to get Tornado updates. Then, think about the job-creators that would job-create some jobs in the tornado-forcasting industry. Then, think about the job-creators that would job-create some jobs in the for-profit education system to train new tornado-forcasters. Think about it.

  3. Joan Savage says:

    The link didn’t lead to a discrediting of the US Weather Service by Sen. Inhofe. It led to his investigation of NOAA’s USHCN, which keeps records, doesn’t do forecasts.
    Inhofe has a webpage devoted to helping constituents deal with severe weather.
    I am not a fan of Inhofe’s but let’s keep the facts straight.

  4. facts lean left says:

    Inhofe gets what he deserves. Facts are off the table for him when he’s on one of his crusades, and he is very responsible for the general Republican anti-science attitudes. those that want Republicans treated fairly are masochists.

  5. La_Randy says:

    Moist air is less dense than dry air?

    Typo perhaps.

  6. nyc-tornado-10 says:

    Also, think about how many of those jobs created by the job creators would be in china, or low wage jobs for immigrants and h1b visa holders!

  7. Eve says:

    So who did those state cheese off? Gaia or Zeus? Should they have conducted human sacrifice to ward off the anger of the Earth?

  8. mulp says:

    Don’t know, Eve. I was wondering myself. Maybe the Koch brothers are actually gay and god was smiting them where it hurts them the most, in their wallet?

  9. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    ‘Free Enterprise’ doesn’t ‘create jobs’-it exploits labour to create profit, by paying workers, who make everything humanity enjoys, less than the true value of their efforts. ‘Job-creators’ got us into this mess, and only working people can do the incredibly difficult tasks required to save us-if they cease being brainwashed into thinking that capitalist exploiters are heroes.

  10. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    His influence in Uganda is, in my opinion, another sorry tale.

  11. Rob Jones says:

    I used to feel the same but I’m over it now. I truly hope climate change impacts hardest in geographic areas that don’t support action against it. I also hope it is beneficial to those areas who do support action.
    I understand that within those regions there are a mix of individuals who feel differently about action on climate change and my sympathy does go out to those people, but in general I cheer when ‘red’ states get hit as I do here in Australia when ever a climate related disaster hits a geographic region that does not support climate change action.
    In addition my own feelings about glee or sadness do nothing to affect who, where or how hard the consequences of climate change hit and so why bother with the guilt of it?

  12. John Mashey says:

    See taxes.
    both KS and OK get more money from Federal government than they pay, so they get subsidized by places like CA or CT.

  13. Rob Jones says:

    Perhaps you have hit upon a point?
    I will however leave it up to you to decide whom it should be that is sacrificed but if you do wan’t to appease some deity it probably should be with the blood of an enemy.

  14. Rob Jones says:

    Perhaps you have hit upon a point?
    I will however leave it up to you to decide whom it should be that is sacrificed but if you do want to appease some deity it probably should be with the blood of an enemy.

  15. Ozonator says:

    You need to count in all the billions those GOP failed states dump onto Social Security Disability instead of paying for them out of their worker comp pool from their killing and injurious industries.

  16. Peter says:

    That these Red States are being hit the hardest by the early stages of climate change should be no surprise to us here at CP.

    Their elected officials mostly deny a problem exists with climate change. If their lives become difficult and painful, they have no one to blame but themselves.

  17. a face in the clouds says:

    Grew up hearing some of the old railroad men in the family talk about the Woodward tornado of 1947, and in terms of this discussion the long and short-term warnings really do stand out as a big difference between the two storms. Based on the reports I saw, the short-term warning was a collaboration between the public, unpaid spotters, law enforcement and the weather service, which sent out warnings through commercial news outlets and weather radios made by private companies. Considering the proximity of the touchdown and forward speed of the tornado it was remarkable that Woodward had any warning whatsoever. Fortunately people were already paying attention because of the blunt, long-term warnings. We cannot forget there are still a half-dozen dead and several others with life-altering injuries. However, if some of the wannabe monarchs and economic cultists were in charge, there would have been no warnings and the buzzards and time would have cleaned up all evidence of a disaster.

    Advances in construction have to be mentioned too. Cultists need only look at the example of Texas Tech University scientists and engineers to see their tax dollars turn into loaves and fishes as they flow back into the private enterprise and our back pockets. These folks are living proof that working for the common good can pay for itself in many ways and many times over.

    By and large the system won this round, but with climate change bearing down there is no time to catch our breath. Even as I speak, the same system responsible for last weekend’s tornado outbreak has triggered a serious flood in the Corpus Christi region.

  18. Nabil Almurabit says:

    Man they had better be glad that they aren’t dealing with me as President. I would make Inhofe, Larry King, Grassley and all of the other Tornado Alley politicians come to the Not So White House and have them ask me in front of the cameras for emergency assistance for their respective areas. Then I’d break out one of those giant checks and they would have to smile and shake my hand and express their gratitude to the federal government for its assistance.

  19. TKPGH says:

    I’m curious as how long the insurance industry will continue to fork over billions to reconstruct lives and property in what is becoming a loser of a region for them. I’d be starting a conversation in the building community about earth-sheltered housing if I were them.

  20. a face in the clouds says:

    It will require a rebellion turnout of young voters. They are smart, organized and only need candidates who will speak out at the giant, inflated balloons and carnival barkers. Lyndon LaRouche clone Ron Paul has once again been exposed as having no ideas and is becoming little more than a thorn in Lord Mitten’s side. Meanwhile, Bin Laden is dead, the Iraq war is over and we’ll be gone from Afghanistan in a few months. It will give the young generation their first look at the future, largely unobscured by the dust of Dubya, the Tea Party and Rand cultists.

  21. prokaryotes says:


    Inhofe: God Says Global Warming Is A Hoax

    I guess god was not amused…

  22. Joan Savage says:

    I have always appreciated Joe Romm’s column because Romm sticks to well-documented evidence that fully supports his assertions.

    It is not satisfactory when a contributor even appears to “take facts off the table” in a crusade against Inhofe or someone else.

    What Inhofe deserves is to have his irresponsibility and worse exposed accurately to his constituents, and be voted out of office and into an ignominious Ted Stephens-type retirement.

  23. cervantes says:

    Nope. Information is a public good. No one individual will pay for it because once it’s out there, everybody has it; in addition to which, if you could only get the info if you subscribed (which is impractical in this case), not enough people would be willing or able to afford it to finance an enterprise as large as the NWS with its satellites and supercomputers.

    This is a clear example of a public good which is underproduced by the (largely fictitious) “market”. You need a tax funded weather service.

  24. Joan Savage says:

    Although my emotions turn me towards earth-sheltered homes, a key is whether or not a local economy can continue to support its residents. If insurance premiums go through the roof for pipe terminals and agri-businesses, that could drive several dynamics, ranging from automation to migration. Re-insurance looks at the statistics for recurrent flood and/or drought while tornadoes are a more scattered (though also calculable) risk, ultra-rare to strike the same place twice. It may take the loss of a major grain silo or pipeline junction to stimulate more public awareness.
    As long as people are willing to rebuild homes and pay insurance premiums, someone may be willing to insure them, but that is all on the premise of a functioning local economy.

  25. Eve says:

    NOAA’s report on March: •A persistent weather pattern during the month led to 25 states east of the Rockies having their warmest March on record. An additional 15 states had monthly temperatures ranking among their ten warmest. That same pattern brought cooler-than-average conditions to the West Coast states of Washington, Oregon, and California.

  26. Joan Savage says:

    Very few states have as much as 75-85% of one party. Geographers have resorted to mapping “Purple” states to get away from false generalization, and also came up with a stripe pattern for Independents. There is no such thing as a purely Red or Blue state.

    If you are among those who think God/Gaia/Zeus is going after Red states as a form of righteous retribution, consider what He/She might do with those who are gleeful about the suffering of others.

  27. Pilotshark says:

    “Wichita, Kansas, the headquarters of Koch Industries, suffered $280 million in damage from a ferocious twister, but the “ever-increasing government” demonized by the Koch brothers prevented any loss of life.”

    I am making a SWAG here but guessing the Kockroachs will ask FEMA for ever dollar they can get and take from some one who needs it.

  28. j7915 says:

    Oklahoma, AKA Inhofe Country is definitively in the 75%+ republican/Tea bagger/conservative/reactionary/xian taliban group.

  29. facts lean left says:

    Sorry, Joan, all of your points are ridiculous. And nobody is gleeful, but the fact is, these states are bringing this disaster on all of us.

  30. facts lean left:


    Joan Savage:

    What are you smoking? Do you seriously think that there’s some weird sort of war going on between your Christian God and the Greek Gods, and that if you deny, deny, deny climate change really hard, then your Christian God can win the day and balance will be restored?

    This is so screwed up.

    Maybe we need a few basics.

    Lesson One. Tornadoes are real.

    Lesson Two. Yes, really. Tornadoes are real.

    Lesson Three. Really. Tornadoes are totally real.

    Lesson Four. And no, tornadoes are not manufactured by Democrats.

    Lesson Five. Seriously, the Democrats did not manufacture tornadoes just so that they can win elections.

    Lesson Six. Did I say tornadoes are real?

    Lesson Seven. OK, time to go on. Tornadoes cause real harm, real suffering, and real damage. And real deaths.

    Lesson Eight. Seriously. Democrats are not manufacturing the deaths from tornadoes so that they can win elections.

    Lesson Nine. Given that tornadoes cause real harm, perhaps it might be a good idea to, um, think of ways to limit the harm that tornadoes can wreak.

    Lesson Ten. No, denying that tornadoes cause real harm will not limit the harm.

    Lesson Eleven. Which part of “tornadoes are not a leftist conspiracy” do you not understand?

    Lesson Twelve. I give up.

    — frank

  31. Joan Savage says:

    Checked some facts. I used WRI’s CAIT 4.0 data base (sign in required) and wiki’s list of Red/Blue/Purple states to find that as of 2007 green house emissions data,

    GOP States – 3325.1 MtCO2e
    Dem States – 2598.4 MtCO2e
    Swing states – 1164.8 MtCO2e

    Secede if you want from the GOP states, yet what is left still brings disaster.

  32. Eve says:

    Oh wow, I should never have made that joke about Gaia and Zeus with this group. Sacrifices to climate gods never worked. Climate change exists and has always existed, that is why people used to sacrifice to their gods. I thought we had progressed but I see we have not if people are wishing bad fortune on people who do not believe as they do. This is truly sad. We are living in the most stable climate period this planet has ever known. I might be wrong, the climate may have been as stable when the globe averaged 22 C and C02 was 30%.
    Climate has changed but humanity has not.

  33. Randall says:

    Check it out for yourself. As an example, turbine-powered aircraft need more runway on a humid day than a dry day. Less thrust, less lift.