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National Weather Service Storm Announcement Was Way Over the Top

We understand that the communications pros at the National Weather Service have a challenging and largely thankless job: convincing barely-interested Americans to pay attention to dangerous weather systems and respond accordingly.

Their jobs are especially important at a time like this: Hurricane Sandy is about to slam into New Jersey, and its aftermath won’t be pretty: Governor Chris Christie stopped begging Bruce Springsteen to hang out with him long enough to tell residents that they should prepare to go without power for 7-10 days, adding (with his trademark understatement), “Don’t be stupid, get out.”

OK, we get it: this is a big deal. The NWS knows that people don’t generally like to pack up and flee their homes, and we don’t doubt that some hard-headed New Jersey residents will stay put no matter what. Still, we wonder whether the tone of the service’s Sunday evening message was completely appropriate. Here’s the passage that raised some eyebrows (bold text ours, all caps theirs):

2. IF YOU ARE RELUCTANT TO EVACUATE, AND YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO RODE OUT THE `62 STORM ON THE BARRIER ISLANDS, ASK THEM IF THEY COULD DO IT AGAIN.

3. IF YOU ARE RELUCTANT, THINK ABOUT YOUR LOVED ONES, THINK ABOUT THE EMERGENCY RESPONDERS WHO WILL BE UNABLE TO REACH YOU WHEN YOU MAKE THE PANICKED PHONE CALL TO BE RESCUED, THINK ABOUT THE RESCUE/RECOVERY TEAMS WHO WILL RESCUE YOU IF YOU ARE INJURED OR RECOVER YOUR REMAINS IF YOU DO NOT SURVIVE.

Well, that was certainly blunt. Since Buzzfeed won’t tell us whether we should be outraged by this insensitive gut punch, we’re stuck between freaking out and following New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s more measured suggestion:

We’ll get back to you when we figure it out.

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