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Amazon hiring meteorologist month after deadly Illinois warehouse tornado

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has opened an investigation into the...
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has opened an investigation into the deadly collapse at the Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville.
Updated: Jun. 9, 2022 at 5:09 PM CDT
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EDWARDSVILLE (KMOV.COM) -- A month after a tornado ripped through an Illinois Amazon warehouse killing 6 people, the company is looking to add a meteorologist to its team.

According to a job post on Amazon’s website, the position is for a “Chief Meteorologist” based out of Goodyear, Arizona. The online listing states the meteorologist will be responsible for daily forecasts for thousands of Amazon locations globally, and they will also be expected to warn staff of severe weather.

“Attempts to forecast, as accurately as possible, the timing, severity, and exact location of dangerous weather systems such as tornadoes, hurricanes, severe rain storms, and blizzards,” the posting reads.

Amazon wouldn’t tell News 4 Investigates if it had a meteorologist on staff in December 2021 when the tornado hit in Edwardsville, or if the job posting was a reaction to the storm.

Instead of answers, an Amazon spokesman questioned where News 4 Investigates saw the post. For days News 4 Investigates questioned Amazon about the position. The company declined to comment.

The position is news to lawyers representing the family of Austin McEwen, an Amazon contract employee who was killed as he tried to take shelter in the warehouse. This week the family sued Amazon and the building developers, and construction company for negligence.

“A chief meteorologist should have been in place from the day the first fulfillment center was built and it’s very surprising that a company the size of Amazon doesn’t have these resources in place,” said the McEwen’s lawyer Jack Casciato, a partner at Clifford Law Offices.

Amazon first posted the position on Jan. 13 and posted a second Chief Meteorologist position on Wednesday. The first post has since been deleted, but both appeared a month after the tornado.

“Certainly when they recognize six human lives have been lost, a lawsuit has now been filed, clearly they’re looking back on things they should have done,” Casciato said.

Amazon has never publicly mentioned having a meteorologist on staff in the weeks since the storm.

News 4 Investigates obtained a copy of Amazon’s Emergency Action Procedure for North America. The document lists emergency contacts, but there is no mention of a meteorologist. According to Amazon’s procedure, if there is a tornado risk security staff should check with the National Weather Service and local forecasts.

Two days after the tornado, Amazon Spokeswoman Kelly Nantel told News 4 the company’s plan worked.

“Anytime there is a circumstance there are ways you want to go back and look at ways to improve it but in this case the team did what they are trained to do and the employees did what they were trained to do, they moved with a sense of urgency. This was a very fast moving and powerful tornado,” Nantel said in December.

Corporate meteorologists aren’t uncommon. Places like Walmart and Dunkin’ have been known to use them.