Thursday, September 17, 2015

Here’s The Forecast…

So, one of the prompts for Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop was, “Something you wanted to be when you grew up.


Yes, a weatherman. Not a meteorologist, because that meant having to know physics and stuff. No, a weatherman on TV. Like PJ Hoff or Harry Volkman (who passed away recently). Here’s what real meteorologists look like on TV. (I’ve shared this before, I’m sure.)

I loved that show, by the way.

Until about thirty years ago, weather was five minutes during the newscast, usually limited to a weatherman using a simple map to explain what had been here and what was coming, followed by the forecast for the next 24 hours. If there was bad weather in the area, you might get a “special report” where the station would break away for a minute so the weatherman on duty could tell you where the severe weather was and where it was going. Or it might just be a crawl at the bottom of the screen. There wasn’t the equipment they have today, nor the weather people with the knowledge and sophistication to understand what was happening and who could tell you not only that a storm as coming, but when you could expect it to arrive. Now, if there’s bad weather, the meteorologists take over the show and pre-empt everything until the storm is past.

And if things get really bad, this is what you can expect.

I talk about weathermen, but there were lots of women who did the job, too. Like Marcia Yockey, for years Evansville, Indiana’s favorite weather forecaster. I saw Marcia do the weather once, when I was in southern Indiana visiting a client. She was a real trip.

Now there are whole cable TV channels dedicated to reporting the weather. In the US, we have The Weather Channel, started by another former Chicago weatherman, John Coleman. The station has changed a lot, particularly after being bought by Comcast, who owns TV network NBC. NBC decided to change the focus of The Weather Channel, and soon you could see anything on there except the weather. Naturally, people have found alternatives to the channel, so they recently announced they’re going to change their focus back to the weather.

I don’t think I’d want to be a weatherman today. I don’t even watch the weather on TV anymore; I can check Wunderground or Accuweather on my iPhone, and when the weather turns severe, I go to Twitter to get the latest. People all over town post updates as the storm progresses. For some reason, I trust that just a little more than what I get on TV.

But I still miss the days of the old weathermen.

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

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