Things I Hate About TV: The Weather Channel
During a particularly bad spate of thunderstorms blanketing the Delaware Valley last week I switched on The Weather Channel thinking I would see some reports about the severe weather that was crossing the region. However, after my local forecast ended I was treated to a special which featured team coverage about the official start of the 2006 hurricane season.
Well, I looked outside, switched around to the other news networks, went on the Internet (until the thunderstorms knocked out my access), then rocketed into space in my personal spacecraft to see if any hurricanes were making landfall on the United States' coastline. I couldn't find any. So, why the heck did they have all of this team coverage when all I wanted to find out is if my house would be flooded by torrential rains or stuck several times by lightning?
Yes, last year's hurricane season was not one to take lightly: thousands (if not millions) of square miles devastated across the Gulf Coast; hundreds of thousands of lives disrupted as homes were destroyed and family and friends were lost or died; billions of dollars of revenue for the area washed away. It will take many years and many dollars to rebuild and get the population that went elsewhere to return to the region. However, was there a real purpose for team coverage of a date on the calendar?
When the producers and executives at the 24-hour network decided to air this special did they anticipate that a hurricane would begin brewing in the Atlantic so the coverage would have some significance. It's true that weather, especially severe weather, is this channel's bread and butter. However, to place a scare into viewers for events that even happened yet is not the way to go, particularly when severe weather is actually occurring in the present.
Yet, The Weather Channel has been moving into the realm of sensationalism for several years now, especially with its series It Could Happen Tomorrow, which shows that New York City could be destroyed by a severe earthquake or a tsunami could strike San Francisco by, well, tomorrow. They still have weather forecasts, but they are interspersed more and more with weather-related stories. This is fine for those of us with digital cable, since The Weather Channel and local stations offer continuous automated coverage of the weather. However, for those still running with basic, The Weather Channel is the only game in town.
Perhaps, the next time actual severe weather strikes, The Weather Channel could preempt their original programming and report on the actual weather that is going on in real time. When that's over they can get back to telling us how the weather will eventually turn this planet into a watery hell full of tornadoes and earthquakes.