Thunderstorms And Weathermen

From the time I woke up today I was consciously checking the radar, looking back every so often to track storms in Central New York State. They were where I expected them to be. The computer guidance implied they would fizzle as they approached Connecticut.

That kind of advice is mostly good, but you can’t let your guard down. Tonight was a prime example.

As the storms rolled out of the Catskills and into the Hudson Valley they were still intensifying. I spent significant time on them during my trips to the weather wall. As we approached 6:30 PM it became obvious they would still be a threat as they entered Connecticut.

It’s interesting, but I adopt a different persona when the weather demands real time action. You know the phrase, “it never rains, it pours?” That applies to weather. It either easy or nerve wracking. There is no middle ground.

As the news ended, I went to the ‘back’ and gave our engineers a heads up. There might be a Severe Thunderstorm Warning. I wanted it on quickly. Advance planning helps in that regard.

Within five minutes the Weather Service began to issue warnings. First Litchfield, then Fairfield then Hartford County. Over the next forty five minutes they were all lit up on the map at the top of the TV screen.

I have to make an interesting decision under these circumstances. Does the warning stay up 100% – even through commercials? These storms looked pretty potent, so I said yes.

It’s interesting to note that these warnings came without benefit of a Severe Thunderstorm Watch – the Weather Service’s equivalent of a heads up. Sometimes I think they are too caught up in what has been forecast and don’t pay enough attention to what’s actually going on. Just my opinion.

I spoke to our promo producer, making it clear I wanted all the time on our 7:22 live cut-in. Then I went to engineering to see if there were any promos that could be cut, allowing me to extend my time. What was scheduled for 35 seconds became :50. It doesn’t sound like much, but that’s a major help.

Going on the air during a severe weather situation can’t be taken lightly. I don’t.

I worry about all the people I’m scaring. I worry I won’t properly communicate the gravity of the situation, letting some people poo poo what they’re hearing. I worry about people outside the warning area who are ticked off at me for cluttering up the screen or interrupting programming (which I didn’t have to do tonight).

So far things have gone well. A few small pieces of equipment didn’t perform as expected. It wasn’t something a viewer would have noticed, just a little extra feature I wasn’t able to use. I tried working with the tech support people to correct it, but decided to wait until after the storms have cleared.

Having more toys, more capabilities, has actually made my job tougher. There is more I can do to get out the word and get it out faster. That will be my challenge this summer. Tonight was a good first step.

My heart is still pounding a little harder than usual.

There’s a weather bulletin board I check in on from time-to-time. Lots of the participants salivate waiting for strong storms. I don’t get it.