Tag Archives: meteorologists

Panic attack

Mark Twain was known to have said, “Everyone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it.”

As Hurricane Irene barrels toward the United States, the weather is all anyone is talking about. Someone, do something.

Usually, The Weather Channel is fairly tempered in its wording. Forecasters take such flak for both underestimating and over-hyping conditions that they must walk a fine line between issuing timely alerts and not inciting panic, even when conditions are urgent. By necessity, they choose their words cautiously.

In all the years I’ve followed The Weather Channel on weather.com, however, I’ve never read such strong language as I have these last 24 hours:

“extraordinary impacts”
“very dangerous”
“serious and multi-hazard threat”
“rare potency”
“particularly threatening situation”
“dire threat”

They’ve even created a new threat level category: EXTREME. All caps.

In fact, the site is using ALL CAPS and exclamation points all over the place! As drama goes, that’s the punctuation equivalent of Al Roker twisting in the wind.

Meteorologists caution that Irene will impose severe conditions on the major metropolitan areas of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, including Norfolk, Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Hartford and Boston. “This hurricane has the potential to produce flooding rains, high winds, downed trees (on houses, cars, power lines) and widespread power outages,” the site warns.

One troubling aspect of this looming disaster is that, not only must East-coasters prepare for damage and loss, but we also have to brace ourselves for ridicule from the rest of the country. California is still snickering over our little 5.8 earthquake, while red state residents are blanketing Facebook and Twitter with stupid quake jokes about policymakers.

I seriously hope Irene has a change of heart and a change of direction. No one would look forward to singing “Goodnight Irene” more than beach dwellers and East Coast city folk. 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to dash out for an emergency supply of Perrier and camembert.

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