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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Their name is mud

Once again the meteorology community has egg on its face. They better hope it's not of the salmonella-tainted variety.

Since his birth off the coast of Africa a week or so ago the weather community was eager for Earl, anointing him as "The One," a swirl of clouds, rain and wind that was destined to wreak havoc up and down the East Coast. The Weather Channel raced crews and satellite trucks up the coast to record the impending doom.

Locally, breathless forecasters joined the fray. Their dire messages led to a rash of Labor Day weekend hotel and motel cancellations, rooms quickly filled by TV and electric company repair crews.

Heck, it even prompted the issuance of the first-ever summertime French Toast Alert.

For what? The four-day August Nor'easter generated a lot more rain and wind, and set the stage for air almost as hot as that which filled the airwaves.

It's no secret weather forecasting is a major source of local television loyalty -- and revenue generation. Most local outlets now employ more meteorologists than sportscasters. And when you can sell radio school closing announcements, it's easy to drone on with New Hampshire delayed openings even though most folks can find what they need on the web in far shorter time.

Sadly, Earl is the latest example of hype outweighing reality. Yes, there was a need for vigilance. No, there was no need for breathless coverage, hour-long specials with the same backdrop of high Nantucket waves and and walkers along not-so-windy Chatham beaches.

Earl was no innocent. He had a strong start before fading at the finish (sounds like many a Red Sox season). If he had lived up to the hype and if public safety officials had ignored the warnings, there would have been hell to pay.

But we need to find a middle ground -- and that effort needs to start with the television hype machine that is fast resembling the boy who cried wolf.

At least folks have plenty of eggs for weekend French Toast breakfasts.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

What we need is to find a broadcast medium that provides a weather forecast without all the weathertainment and hype. We don't need the wall to wall "team weather" concept. We don't need breathless weather talkers standing at the shore droning on about the dangerous surf, all the while inciting watchers to flock to the coast to see it in person. We don't need anchors intoning about the "serious situation", trying to provide the most profound word on the coming storm. In short, just forecast it. That's all.

September 04, 2010 11:25 AM  

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