The Answer Is Not What We’re Doing Now

Most severe weather warnings are not accompanied by severe weather! A post on FiveThirtyEight.com says three out of every four tornado warnings are false alarms!

ww0231_radar_bigThere’s a ‘secret’ Broadcast Meteorologists group on Facebook I often check. From time-to-time one of the mets will vent about viewers complaining when weather interrupts programming. My thoughts on this have changed over time. I’m not sure we’re doing it right.

Is over-the-air TV still the best way to get the word out? In this fragmented world we get a much smaller piece of the pie than we once did. Maybe cellphones, reasonably ubiquitous, should be the delivery mechanism?

Beyond that, most TV stations cover a large area. People get upset when troubled for a storm 50 or 100 miles away. Selfish? Maybe. But isn’t the customer always right?

There’s a huge elephant in the room too. Most severe weather warnings are not accompanied by severe weather! A post on FiveThirtyEight.com says three out of every four tornado warnings are false alarms! Viewers are disregarding them the way they click EULAs on websites.

We have become a world of targeted information and personalization. As done now, weather warnings are the opposite. No wonder people get upset.

I’m not sure the answer, except it’s not what we’re doing now. We need to adapt with the times.

5 thoughts on “The Answer Is Not What We’re Doing Now”

  1. I sure hope they don’t go to cell phone only—many of us seniors don’t have all the services you young ‘uns’ do! Today(actually yesterday (Wed) the big Hype was the severe warning for Western CT—basically far West–ie Fairfield & Litchfield counties. Narrowed down further–along the Rte 7 corridor. There was an outside chance other towns would see a shower. Imagine my surprise when I looked out the window around 6PM and it was pitch black! Called the neighbor as we both have dogs that don’t like the Thunder. We didn’t get severe weather, but we did finally get a prolonged fairly steady downpour–my grass said “Aaah”! I only wonder about the prolonged warnings of Tornado’s when they say something to the effect of “we will continue to follow this–stay tuned” What about those folks who no longer have power, how do they stay tuned. Like I said–everyone doesn’t have cell phones.

  2. Back here in CT warning banners are rolled across the bottom of the TV screen. Seems reasonable. If there is a real nasty threat they will interrupt a broadcast but not very often. Actually CT is so small that anything really nasty can and will hit the whole state. Kinda like some Geoffy jokes that use to hit the air waves now and then 🙂

  3. I’m with Barb B we shouldn’t be forced to spend big bucks for a fancy cell phone to get apps just for the rare times (I’m basing that on 365 days a year) that there are reasons to be warned.

    And not all of us have good service for a cell phone. I get 1 bar here at home. Maybe 2 when the leaves are down. Having a cell phone and having it be viable aren’t always the same. There are still areas in this country where there is no cell service.

    What I’d like to know is this: A few years back there were a number of stories about how the warnings were going to be more targeted instead of announcing a whole county it would be town or zip or something. What happened to that? The only thing I ever see are the whole county or maybe Southern blah blah county or northern blah blah.

    I depend on the radar on the tv to help me figure out when to head to the basement. I’ve run into times where I can’t even find it during a heavy storm. I don’t mind if it’s a little map on the bottom of the screen just show me something.

    But, there are too many people who only think of themselves. If they were the ones with say the tornado heading toward them they would change their tunes quickly.

    Kate

  4. Full screen seems excessive, especially with a localized event that doesn’t affect most viewers. A small map and a scroll would serve the purpose – maybe even list a web site, dedicated cable channel and/or even a phone number to call for added information. Also consider that if people’s power goes out or they evacuate to their basement, they’re likely to not have access to the tv anyhow.

    As to longer duration events like hurricanes and snowstorms – does 24/7 coverage really impart additional information? I’ve got no objection to the station breaking in to announce road closures or power outages and the like, but a couple hours of basically repeating “it’s still snowing” or “it’s very windy” doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know.

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