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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sno' excuses

When are TV meteorologists ever going to learn to stop hyping snowstorms?

The "surprise" storm that snarled traffic and turned once rational drivers into idiots really wasn't a "surprise" at all. TV crews were perched at the Bourne rotary at 5 a.m. to make the obligatory snow balls and forecasters had talked about 1-3 inches in Boston.

But since they had also spent the better part of the previous week blathering about a potential snowpocalypse on Sunday, no one was really paying any attention on Monday.

Shame on us. But even greater shame on them.

Weather is obviously a major rainmaker for television stations (sorry, couldn't resist). Why else do stations in this sports-mad town have more meteorologists than sportscasters on staff?

Local radio stations sell the endless school closing announcements -- even though robocalls to parents, not to mention text messages, web sites and continuous TV screen crawls make listening to the annoying lists obsolete.

I admit I'm not immune to the call of the wild, flipping through the channels to see who is predicting how much and rating forecasters on their accuracy to hype ratio. In the end, I prefer to rely on the National Weather Service, a throwback to my own reporting days where I could get good quotes without the hype, because they had nothing to sell.

The forecasters didn't screw this one up, and local governments who rely on private services for their weather data would probably acknowledge that. But Harvey and Todd and Pete and Kevin and Matt all deserve a share of the blame anyway for being the boys who cried wolf.

And we all know how that turned out.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

i get why regular folks are blindsided. but why are muni officials? shouldn't they know the score and have salt and plows ready so roads are passable? that's why we have snarls and granny drivers.

December 21, 2010 9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As long as these guys (the major local TV guys) work for outlets that live and die on viewership and ratings, this will continue. They all want to be the ones who got it first, claimed the worst, and entertained us the most. They like to say that modern forecasting allows them to forecast earlier and earlier, but what they do with it is identify an inkling of a possibility that they can hype into hysteria. Just report the weather, and save the records, entertainment, and doomsaying for Rasputin.

December 21, 2010 10:18 AM  

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