I’m sure that being vilified, criticized, and being called irresponsible was the last thing Mike Morgan, Chief Meteorologist for television station KFOR in Oklahoma City, thought of as he was picking out his tie for the days series of broadcasts on that fateful Friday May 31st, 2013. I’m sure, in his mind, he was keenly aware that the stage was set for more possible outbreaks of severe weather as he had forecast just the day before. What he probably wasn’t aware of was the imperfect storm coming to devastate his character, integrity and abilities. Yes…he was blindsided by the aftermath I’d say. An EF5 of criticism grinding away at him from people, many of which have never stood in his place. From all the sites I’ve read, It appears to be with the full intent to level his credibility down to the utter slab.
A lot of people criticized Mike for telling people to get in their cars and flee the oncoming tornadoes that hit El Reno and Oklahoma City that day. They seem to be all singing the same chorus calling him “irresponsible” blaming him for putting people in extreme danger on congested roads.
The day I heard about how Mike was being trashed by the national media and other “experts” that play like that they know better, I listened to several clips out on the Internet. I noticed that one thing they all seem to have in common is that they all seem to have conveniently left out what he said just seconds before he said to “get out.” In case they “forgot,” I’ll say it here. He said to “get below ground.” He then added that if you can’t get below ground, get out of the way of it. He probably said all this in in different words all throughout his reporting. However; the media and those wishing to defame Mike, FAILED to report the “whole truth.”
Here is one example: I looked around using search and on one web site, The International Business Times, the text reads “According to a report from Yahoo via Reuters, Morgan told News Channel 4 viewers to use their cars to flee from the approaching tornadoes, an action in direct opposition to the commonly reported advice to seek refuge in storm cellars and other underground facilities in the event of a twister.” This is a report from Reuters echoed by Yahoo. Of course, Reuters lost their credibility quite some time ago along with cBS way back in the Bush era, and it looks like Yahoo wants to follow suit by publishing their dribble. There are many more examples you can find simply by entering Mikes name in your favorite search engine.
Mike Morgan is an award-winning meteorologist. He as pretty much always had some of the best and most accurate and current coverage of any weather service in the Oklahoma City Metro area. Because of this, I was listening to Mike when I heard him say to get below ground and if you can’t get below ground, go south. When I heard him say that, the storm was going east along highway 40. Going south, at that time, would not be trying to outrun the tornado, as south would be going perpendicular, not parallel or inline to the tornadoes path. It wasn’t until later, that the storm turned towards the south. When it did, I went over to my neighbors underground shelter, just like Mike said to do. This isn’t a Reuters report. I heard this directly from Mikes mouth over my TV with my own ears.
What Mike may be the most guilty of, is not saying “Don’t be stupid and use major highways.” You could hear the tension in his voice and see it in his actions as he reported the blow-by-blow of the May 31 tornadoes. I make it plural as this storm front had multiple vortices.
Hindsight is 20-20. Crystal clear. I am sure since Mike, as a professional, that he and his team will study all the replays of this and his broadcast for the devastating May 20th, Moore tornado which was just eleven days prior. I’m sure he and his team will take all the data and incorporate all the lessons learned in future storm coverage. And I would suggest that those critics who are taking Mike Morgan to task on this to spend just one tornado in his shoes. Telling the masses about an oncoming deadly storm and how to save their asses, and quit being royal asses for criticizing someone who has saved more people’s lives in his time reporting weather than his critics probably ever dreamed of.
Personally, I think the irresponsible reporting is from the media and those criticizing Mike. It’s “DISGUSTING” that most of the media is leaving out the fact that Mike said to get underground first, making people think he only said to get in their car and try to outrun the tornado. NO! He told people to “Get Below Ground” FIRST. He only added the “get away” as the other option if people don’t have a shelter. One guy I read said, and I agree, “The only safe places are in a fortified EF5-rated shelter, underground, or not in the area.” Mike covered the last two in his reporting.
Mike Morgan is a hero. Along with all the people helping him and the other weathermen on all the other stations. His main thought was “saving lives.” And…with the death toll that could have been much higher, he succeeded in saving lives in El Reno, Oklahoma City and Moore Oklahoma. And…that’s way more than I can say for most of the utter cowards that criticize him.
Oh…and…YES! I will be going underground next year. Because of Mike Morgan’s excellent reporting, as of this writing, I have put a down payment on an underground shelter for my garage.