(Reuters) - The tornado that struck the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore on Monday was a rare EF5, the highest rating the National Weather Service assigns in classifying the strength of tornadoes.
An EF5 tornado can pack winds exceeding 200 miles per hour and damage is devastating, the service said.
Damage assessment teams also determined that the huge tornado cut a path of approximately 17 miles by 1.3 miles wide.
Well, at least Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn is consistent — consistently heartless, even when it comes to his own constituents.
Never any hesitation about funding wars, bombs, and destruction — but people rendered homeless by natural disasters? Suddenly the right is very concerned about how it will be paid for.
And where do you think these “cuts” of Coburn’s will come from? If you guessed social programs like Medicaid, give yourself a gold star.
The tornado damage near Oklahoma City is still being assessed and the death toll is expected to rise, but already Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., says he will insist that any federal disaster aid be paid for with cuts elsewhere.
CQ Roll Call reporter Jennifer Scholtes wrote for CQ.com Monday evening that Coburn said he would “absolutely” demand offsets for any federal aid that Congress provides.
Coburn added, Scholtes wrote, that it is too early to guess at a damage toll but that he knows for certain he will fight to make sure disaster funding that the federal government contributes is paid for. It’s a position he has taken repeatedly during his career when Congress debates emergency funding for disaster aid.
Scholtes points out that Coburn was one of 36 Republican senators who voted against disaster funding for Superstorm Sandy in January.
Here’s another thread to keep up on events in Moore, Oklahoma, with some sad news from the Associated Press:
BREAKING: State medical examiner’s office: 37 killed in Oklahoma tornado; death toll expected to rise -RJJ
— The Associated Press (@AP) May 21, 2013
BREAKING: State medical examiner’s office: 51 killed in Oklahoma tornado, with children among the dead -RJJ
— The Associated Press (@AP) May 21, 2013
Closeup video of the monster from a storm chaser:
The huge tornado that touched down today near Moore, Oklahoma, has caused terrible devastation; here’s a shot from MSNBC of one area of completely leveled homes and buildings.
More photos of the destroyed areas:
Worst tornado damage I have seen since Joplin. Picture of what’s left of a daycare in Moore, Oklahoma. Brings tears. twitter.com/StormCoker/sta…
— Georgia Storm Chaser (@StormCoker) May 20, 2013
Explosions rocked a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, Wednesday evening as firefighters were battling a fire, causing multiple injuries, authorities said.
Dani Moore, dispatcher with the Texas Department of Pubic Safety, said she did not know how many were injured or the extent of their injuries.
“The fertilizer plant was on fire. Firefighters were on the scene. There was an explosion … followed by a second explosion,” she said.
She said there were multiple damages to structures and vehicles. She said she had no information on the cause of the blasts or fire.
WFAA.com reported at least 10 structures were on fire, including a school which is next door to the plant. An emergency triage center was set up at a high school football field.
The TV station said on its website that a shock wave was felt in parts of North Texas.
The Waco Tribune reported injuries to several people including firefighters.
The fertilizer plant is about 20 miles north of Waco and just off Interstate 35.
KWTX.com reported one of the nearby buildings damaged was a nursing home, and state troopers transported some of the injured to hospitals in patrol cars.
It also said the explosion knocked out electrical power to part of the community.
Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco, was receiving some of the injured. Answering the phone at the hospital, Karen Jackson said she could provide no information on the number of injured or the extent.
A “radical shift” is plunging the Arctic Ocean towards an ice-free state for the first time in millions of years. One of the world’s foremost ice experts, Professor Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University, calls it a “global disaster” that will cause such a big boost in global temperatures that even such extreme measures as geo-engineering need to be considered urgently.
Climate science has long understood that disappearance of summer sea ice in the Arctic would be a “tipping point” in the Earth’s climate system, accelerating global temperatures and causing extreme weather and other climate changes far beyond the Arctic. Yet nearly every expert has been shocked by just how rapidly this “continent of ice” has been vanishing, and how dramatic the impacts have been already.
Climate scientists and ice experts are now using phrases like “unprecedented”, “amazing”, “extreme”, “hard to exaggerate”, “incredibly fast”, “death spiral” and “heading for oblivion”.
This animation of satellite photos from NASA shows Hurricane Sandy moving along the east coast and into the mid-Atlantic and northeastern US, and here’s another thread to post news and updates about the monster storm.
Here’s an open thread for updates and news about the gigantic hurricane now beginning to batter the east coast. Landfall is predicted at 6 pm Eastern, near Atlantic City.
Here’s a thread to post breaking news on the crash of a vintage WWII aircraft at the Reno Air Races…
The latest news is that the plane crashed into a “VIP box seating” area near the main grandstands.
In Joplin, Missouri, dozens of families are in mourning today after a killer tornado struck with very little warning last night. The property damage is immense, and clean-up will take months. Up to three quarters of the city of Joplin has been destroyed.
As part of the aftermath, we must note that these recent weather disasters have long been predicted by climate scientists, as one of the consequences of global warming.
It may be impossible to say with certainty whether any particular case is directly attributable to climate change, but we’re going to be seeing more of these kinds of extreme weather events, and they’re going to increase in frequency. And unfortunately, even if there are measures we could take to start reversing the trends (and there are), we have a very large percentage of Americans who’ve been convinced by the Republican Party and Fox News that scientists are liars, and there’s nothing to worry about.
Following the disaster in Joplin, the right wing denial machine is already kicking into high gear with a blizzard of misinformation (charts and graphs and everything!), led by Anthony Watts with an article in the Daily Caller.
This storm of denial has very real effects, even in the short term. In the 2011 federal spending bill, the GOP slashed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s budget, and killed a $700 million overhaul of our aging environmental satellite system. This program was specifically targeted because satellites are one of the best sources for accurate climate data, and accurate climate data invariably supports the global warming models — therefore it must be destroyed.
But these satellites also serve as the nation’s first line of defense against dangerous weather events: GOP cut crucial weather satellites with fierce hurricane season looming.
Highlighting the critical need for accurate forecasting, yesterday NOAA released their annual hurricane forecast predicting yet another “above-normal” hurricane season. This year, Americans can expect up to 18 named storms and as many as six that could become category five hurricanes. Last year’s hurricane season was one of the busiest on record and that is a trend we can expect to continue. Rising ocean temperatures have been found to increase the frequency and intensity of hurricanes – and this year, ocean temperatures are four degrees higher than normal. These alarming trends aren’t limited to hurricanes – scientists have found that as a result of climate change, killer weather is now the “new normal.”
“Because we have insufficient funds in the ’11 budget, we are likely looking at a period of time a few years down the road where we will not be able to do the severe storm warnings and long-term weather forecasts that people have come to expect today,” Lubchenco said.