Way above their pay grade

There are meteorologists, and there are Big Media types who try to report on the weather. Nobody with a lick of sense will ever confuse the two, but unfortunately, sense is in short supply these days, so here’s an actual meteorologist to point out some minor details:

In January of this year, Diane Sawyer of ABC News went on a nightly network news broadcast and reported that a fatal Alabama tornado had “struck without warning.” Makes for great TV — it immediately incenses the audience and satisfies the desire to search for someone to blame. The only problem is that it was dead wrong.

A tornado warning had been issued well before the tornado struck. The average lead time that night was between 20-30 minutes.

Of course, Diane Sawyer is a Big Media star, so she can’t be expected to bother with trifling things like, um, facts.

More recently:

Oklahoma and Kansas just had a big tornado outbreak. In April. The national media calls it “cataclysmic, weird, extreme” … meteorologists call it “Spring.”

Then again, the national media have been possessed by the notion that anything that doesn’t look like Arbor Day in San Diego is part of that whole “climate-change” thing — which explains in part why so many of them are about to be repossessed.



  1. fillyjonk »

    17 April 2012 · 7:33 am

    “If it bleeds, it leads.” My fear is that the press overstating weather stuff will lead to people discounting genuine warnings: The Boy Who Cried Wolf effect.

    I’m just old enough to remember when there WASN’T 20-30 minutes warning time to get to a shelter. The people like Sawyer need to read detailed accounts of what happened in the 1974 big outbreak (the one that flattened Xenia, Ohio) before they start spouting off again.

  2. Jean »

    17 April 2012 · 8:55 am

    After four hurricanes hit Florida in 2004, every weather yokel predicted the next year…and the next, etc… would be another record breaking hurricane season. Thankfully, for Florida, it’s been pretty mild. A week or two ago a local newspaper headline read something to the likes of “There will be no hurricanes this year.” That makes me more nervous than the doomsayer predictions. Buncha putzes.

  3. McGehee »

    17 April 2012 · 9:20 am

    If it weren’t so damn humid here in Georgia during the climate months I might like living here better. Instead I spend each climate season awaiting the return of mere weather.

  4. Roy »

    17 April 2012 · 10:21 am

    I agree with “fillyjonk”. Every time there is a thunderstorm around here, the local weather-wonks become completely unhinged.

  5. unimpressed »

    17 April 2012 · 11:29 am

    Roy, that supposes that the weather-wonks were hinged to begin with……

  6. Brian J. »

    17 April 2012 · 1:33 pm

    My question is this: Are the big media playing up the weather to distract us from the outbreak of rampant shark attacks they warned us about eleven years ago?

    Why has that story been hushed up since then. How many shark attacks have there been? And: Why can’t legislation or regulation of some sort stop shark attacks?

  7. McGehee »

    17 April 2012 · 2:05 pm

    Brian J., the problem is who writes legislation and regulations. You’ve heard the phrase “professional courtesy,” haven’t you?

  8. mnavarre »

    18 April 2012 · 3:04 am

    “Arbor Day in San Diego” is just code we use to say “Hey, look! California’s burning again!” (actually, we don’t normally burn California until October. Arbor Day is when we plant more highly flamable Eucalyptus trees)

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