Thursday, May 19, 2016

Earthquake Warning Concerns Identical to Tornado Warning Concerns Seven Decades Ago

For all of the progress we think we have made in the fields of science and society, it is surprising the extent to which, "the more things change, the more they say the same."

Today's Wall Street Journal has a story about the nascent earthquake warning system being (too slowly, in my opinion) built in the western United States. If you would like to read the article, it is here.

What fascinated me were the comments to the article. Here are some screen captures of them:

click to enlarge
Do any of those sentiments seem familiar? They are. The comments are, almost verbatim, the objections to the tornado warning system six to seven decades ago.

On June 9, 1953, a tornado struck Worcester, Mass. without warning. Ninety-four were killed. It wasn't that meteorologists didn't know what was coming. They did:
If you can't read the above, after enlarging, it states:

Forecasters at the National Weather Service [sic, it was called the Weather Bureau at that time] in Boston believed there was a possibility of tornadic activity in the area but decided not to include it in the forecast that day in fear they would cause panic in the local citizens...Because of this, the tornado struck with little or no warning for residents. 

This wasn't the first time:
The U.S. government banned the word 'tornado' from forecasts [1883]to avoid panicking the masses...It is believed the harm done by such a prediction would be greater than that which results from the tornado itself."

My opinion: Get the earthquake warning system going as quickly as possible.

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