Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Local Weatherman Sticks By Meteorological Overkill

Viewers of Washington, D.C. affiliate WUSA Channel 9 missed most of the Navy: NCIS season finale because of the station’s decision to interrupt the program in favor of an alert detailing a pending thunderstorm and rumored tornado. This decision so irritated viewers that Chief Meteorologist Topper Shutt made an appearance on Derrick McGinty’sUSA Tonight to justify the extended disruption of regularly scheduled programming.

Topper presented no new line of argumentation. Instead he reiterated the same reasons he emphasized the night before about how the FCC requires the station to take such action when danger to life and property is imminent. Ashame they are not as vigilant looking out for commonsense.

There is no sane reason why news about the storm had to take up the lions share of the hour. Much of the yammering was not even directly related to the threat posed by the particular storm in question. Instead, Shutt spent much of the broadcast lecturing the viewing audience as to the steps to take during severe weather and fixating on his radar’s colors as if he was on some LSD trip. Couldn’t this be done at some time other than prime time and during a season finale no less?

Viewers are not so much in danger from the forces of nature unleashed as from television news people run amok. With their fancy computerized toys such as doppler this and storm center that, weathercasters have grown dangerously fascinated by the sound of their own voices and I would not put it past them to exaggerate atmospheric conditions for no other reason than to maximize their own airtime.

Frederick Meekins

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