WASHINGTON – Two representatives from Iowa have sent a letter to the acting director of the National Weather Service demanding answers as to why warnings to the public were delayed when devastating and deadly tornadoes tore through the state earlier this month.
Eight tornadoes touched down across Iowa on March 5, including an EF-4 that killed six people and an EF-3 tornado that killed another.
The NWS said a damaged communications cable led to minutes-long delays for some to receive Tornado Warnings and other emergency alerts during the severe weather outbreak.
In the March 14 letter to NWS acting director Mary Erickson, Rep. Cindy Axne and Rep. Ashley Hinson said they were concerned over reports of the delays that left Iowans without the necessary time to prepare for the storms.
"Delays of even just minutes can be the difference between life and death," the letter read. "We cannot allow Iowans to be in danger because of technical problems that continue to go unaddressed."
In the letter, Axne and Hinson cited other reports of delays, including problems with the NWS Chat system when severe weather had been reported.
"Every minute counts for saving lives, preventing injury and mitigating property damage when severe weather strikes," the letter read.
Axne and Hinson went on to say that delays in public notifications of approaching severe weather were unacceptable, and the NWS needed to address the issues with "the highest priority."
Both lawmakers have asked the NWS for information about the issues experienced during the tornado outbreak in Iowa and what specific steps are being taken to fix them.