I spoke to Rick Koster at the New London Day yesterday. He was writing a story about weathermen and comments their viewers make, and asked me to participate. I’m always scared I might say something I’ll later regret. This one came out very nicely.
I’ve attached the story to the link below
Just Blame It On The Weathermen, They’re Used To It
�There will be no school tomorrow. At least I’ll be a hero to kids.� – Geoff Fox, WTNH Channel 8 weatherman
By RICK KOSTER
Day Staff Columnist, Arts & Entertainment
Published on 3/1/2005
Something irritating this way comes.
It was Monday afternoon and the clouds were the opaque gray of a killer’s eyes. The Nor’easter was roaring up the Atlantic Coast and forecasters were describing a weather system that would utilize the Connecticut shore as a sort of tightrope between heavy rain and snow, or both.
Among area meteorologists, the mood was a cross between the excitement wrought of any storm and the anxiety that comes with predicting tough and complex systems. After all, at this point in the season, the citizenry can be a bit testy � and need someone to blame the weather on.
�It’s the nature of the game,� said Matt Scott, a meteorologist at WTNH in New Haven who called the impending Nor’easter �a complicated one.�
�This is a troublesome storm,� he said. �This is the first storm of the winter where I think we could see some power outages.�
That would certainly increase the potential for public dissatisfaction.
�Well, we’ve had a lot of snow � more than average � and when we’re a little off the mark some folks get agitated,� Scott said.
Geoff Fox, one of Scott’s meteorological colleagues at WTNH, who has worked in the area for 20 years, is more than familiar with irate weather-followers blaming the messenger. He remembered several years ago when a tourist board in Cape Cod was upset with him because members thought Fox’s long-range forecasts, which in this part of the country usually included a day of rain, were affecting business. They theorized Connecticut residents would not make the trip to the Cape if Fox suggested inclement weather.
Another time: �I was collared by a guy who owned a car wash where I used to take my car,� Fox remembered. �He didn’t like weather forecasts that could hurt his business. I tried to kid around, but he had no sense of humor and I came to believe, in his case, that he had some connections and could actually hurt me. So I get my car washed somewhere else now.�
Fox will presumably not worry about the aesthetics of his car over the next few days. He said Monday afternoon that the Nor’easter was pushing farther and farther to the east. Since snow systems have a relative warm and cold side � the cold is to the west � each turn to the east increases the likelihood that southeastern Connecticut will get more snow.
�There will be no school tomorrow,� Fox said. �At least I’ll be a hero to kids.�
Today’s technology makes it easier for viewers to convey their irritation with meteorologists.
�E-mails are easy to fire off; there are no faces or identities attached,� said Bruce DePrest, chief meteorologist at WFSB in Hartford. �The sender might even be mad at a forecast from another station, but any weatherman will do. Anything can trigger it, too � the timing of a storm, calling for snow and getting rain. … A lot of things make people mad, and sometimes they just want to be annoying because it’s easy to do.�
Michael Thomas, a meteorologist for the Connecticut Weather Center in Danbury, can perhaps understand the concept of what might be called �snow rage� even if he’d never heard the phrase. He said, �I think southeastern Connecticut is looking at five to eight inches of snow with this storm. I was already tired of (snow) last month. Now I hate it.�
Meteorologists say they take their forecasts seriously.
�People should understand that a storm like the one headed our way is my Super Bowl or my Oscars,� Fox said. �It’s really important to us to get it right. There is no upside to making an inaccurate forecast. This is where we make friends or enemies.�
Perhaps it’s possible to do both.
Last week, after several more inches of snow, Fox and his boss received �incredibly irate� e-mails from a viewer in Gales Ferry. The guy was mad because, after the station’s forecast called for snow, his caf� lost business and his son’s wrestling practice was canceled.
�I wrote back and said I didn’t cause the snow,� Fox said. �In the meantime, my boss, who never throws an e-mail away, remembered the guy’s name from an earlier communication and sent a return e-mail: �I’m really surprised to hear from you since you wrote in 2002 and said you’d never watch us again. So it’s good to have you back.’ �