The National Weather Service failed to issue a tornado warning in Moore, Oklahoma, when a preliminary EF-1 tornado made a mess of the town for the sixth time in as many years on Wednesday. AccuWeather wasted no time blasting the agency for its failure while trumpeting their own success in warning clients twelve minutes before the storm struck. There's only one problem—their brand new television network didn't cover the storm, either.

For years, the Pennsylvania-based weather company has produced forecasts for both private clients and the public. AccuWeather's website and apps are heavily trafficked and make the company a small but noticeable force in weather media. For detractors, the company is most well-known for its executives (allegedly!) influencing Senator Rick Santorum to introduce the National Weather Service Duties Act of 2005, which would abolish the agency as we know it while privatizing most of the agency's duties to the incredible benefit of companies like...AccuWeather! Isn't it fun how that works?

The company's forecasting is also taken into question at times, especially over the past few years when the company began issuing detailed weather forecasts for up to 45 days in the future, which is a period about 6x longer than the current science of meteorology allows for an accurate forecast.

Enter the Moore tornado. A line of supercells ripped through central Oklahoma on Wednesday as part of the country's first major severe weather outbreak of the spring. Given the quiet nature of severe weather so far this year, the event was highly anticipated among weather geeks and news organizations alike. As soon as the first storm formed, most media outlets went wall-to-wall with coverage.

The supercells weren't in an environment particularly conducive to the monstrous tornadoes Oklahoma is associated with, but the risk wasn't exactly zero. The Storm Prediction Center noted that there was a low risk—20% chance—of at least two tornadoes within the severe thunderstorm watch they'd issued for the region a few hours earlier.

One of these supercells approached the Oklahoma City metro area from the west as several outflow boundaries from nearby storms sat over the area. The greatest threat from the storm was hail the size of golfballs and damaging winds (which radar suggested were in the range of 90-100 MPH just above ground level), but with the surge of damaging winds and the approaching boundaries, there was a chance of a brief, spin-up tornado.

One of these spin-up tornadoes touched down in Moore around 6:35 PM CDT, continuing through the city until it lifted ten minutes later. Unfortunately, the storm occurred too quickly (and forecasters moved too slowly) to issue a tornado warning in time—by the time meteorologists had issued the tornado warning, the tornado had already moved through Moore, catching many residents off-guard. That was a huge, inexcusable miss on the part of the National Weather Service.

AccuWeather has a vested interest in building up its client base, so like any other company would do when one of its competitors slips, it went for the jugular. On Thursday morning, AccuWeather put out a scathing press release that swiped at the National Weather Service for failing to issue a warning in time, while trumpeting the fact that AccuWeather pushed out a tornado warning to its paying clients a full twelve minutes before the storm struck.

That warning reached the company's business clients, though. If you're a member of the unpaying public, well, you were kinda screwed.

Earlier this month, the outlet launched its much-awaited television network, which replaced The Weather Channel for Verizon FiOS subscribers across the country. The network's website proudly touts its all-weather format, which is a not-so-subtle dig at The Weather Channel's tendency towards reality programming during off-hours and quiet weather days:

AccuWeather's trusted, personalized approach to severe weather alerts, news, and forecasts is available on a new network – the only "All Weather, All the Time" source for 24/7 weather broadcasts in HD.

AccuWeather delivers a Smarter Choice in broadcast weather programming: All-weather information and updates you want, with the Superior Accuracy you need, from the world's weather leader.

The information and updates you want! Unless it was about that tornado, in which case AccuWeather didn't cover it. Oops.

All of the following news clips run from around 6:37 PM CDT to 6:38 PM CDT, the time that everyone saw or got confirmation that a tornado had touched down in Moore.

Oklahoma City's KFOR was on it:

[There was a video here]

As was legendary meteorologist Gary England's home turf, News 9:

[There was a video here]

Dr. Greg Forbes and Carl Parker over at The Weather Channel were at the top of their game, as always when severe weather rolls around:

[There was a video here]

That's some pretty good coverage. Surely, we had even more riveting and in-depth analysis of the outbreak from that brand spankin' new, 24/7 all-weather information and updates you want AccuWeather network, right?

Take it away, Bernie!

[There was a video here]

... oh.

The AccuWeather network is only available to those who subscribe to Verizon FiOS' television services, so to be fair, Oklahoma City doesn't actually have the AccuWeather network yet. However, you would think that a brand new network that wants to take the place of an established behemoth like The Weather Channel would flex their muscles and prove to both the public and to cable/satellite companies across the country that they can carry the torch during a major weather event. What better way to sell your channel to the masses than show that, even during a rapidly unfolding severe weather outbreak in Oklahoma, you've got this, and you can compete with the blue behemoth in Atlanta?

Instead, we got weather on a loop while their company talks smack on the internet. It came down to the old "private weather versus public weather" debate. If this is the best they've got, imagine what would have happened if Santorum had successfully deep-sixed the National Weather Service?

There's no way around the fact that the National Weather Service screwed up and cannot let that happen again, but don't be thrown off by the big talk in AccuWeather's press release: this was AccuWeather's big chance to make a splash and prove their might to a potential nationwide audience that doesn't have an "LLC." or "Inc." after its name, and they blew it.

[Images: KFOR, Gibson Ridge | Videos: KFOR, KWTV, The Weather Channel, the AccuWeather network]

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