Friday, May 02, 2008

You say tornado, I say tor-NOT-o

I'm a little surprised at all of the blog reaction to the so-called tornado so-called coverage of the local so-called news media last night.

I mean, we've all pretty much been in this town long enough to know that, given a stiff breeze, the local weather mediots will pre-empt your favorite TV show to tell you the sky is falling. Nothing new there. Hey, at least they don't interrupt the commercials, right?

Beating up on the so-called news so-called media is fun, but at this point it's become the dead horse of the local internets. Besides, you shouldn't be watching so much TV anyway.

What I want to take a few swipes at is the geniuses who run the tornado sirens around town.

My family and I were on our way home after a meeting with a volunteer group we're involved with yesterday evening. We had just decided to make a quick stop at Home Depot when the first sirens went off.

We flipped on the weather coverage on one of the local AM stations (can't remember which one it was, probably 980) to hear the dreaded news that the world was ending. But it was quite to the contrary...

The announcer was telling us that "the tornado warning for Johnson County has been lifted" -- note that this is happening as the sirens are going off. The announcer noted it as well: "The sirens are going off all over Overland Park, but the National Weather Service is telling us that the tornado warnings have been allowed to expire."

It seems the announcer was just as confused as I was (and that's hard, because I'm always pretty damned confused).

You see, what I don't get is, why turn on the siren if there's no tornado in the first place. People are heading for the root cellar and saying their last goodbyes when they hear those sirens. But not only was there no tornado, there wasn't even a tornado warning or watch. WTF?

Look, I already have an unhealthy disregard for tornadoes. I've lived in Kansas for more than 35 years. I've never been outside of the state borders for more than 4-weeks at a stretch. And I've never seen a real tornado in person.

Sure, I've see the coverage and aftermath on TV. On an intellectual level, I know they exist and they can be devastating. But in my heart, I still don't think it can happen to me.

And it doesn't help when we have a bunch of chicken littles with their fingers on the panic button waiting to cry wolf (hurray for mixed metaphors!).

It's a matter of credibility, people.

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  1. I think you caused this bad weather with your last post.

    Glad you guys are ok.

  2. "...full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

  3. I think this post and the previous go very well together. Sort of like yen and yang.

    Oh and you just doomed us all by saying "I still don't think it can happen to me." Famous last words.

  4. I'm fully aware that I watch too much TV. But it's not really that much.

    Plus, I can quit anytime I want to...

  5. I'm sitting in CA on business and wake up to Matt Blunt on Fox and pictures of devastated houses in Gladstone.

    Even so, the local media on my side of the state is just as bad. If I hauled my tookus down to the basement every time a talking hairdo told me to, I'd never get anything done.


  6. I don't really blame the TeeVee people anymore. It's like getting mad at people from Arizona for being dumb. I guess my expectations are just too low for disappointment.

    Bill, you make purty words. You should be a professional writer.

  7. If we had bad weather in Lafayette Country, I slept through it. I hate the way the weather-guessers hog the television with their dire warnings. Then when they're a tiny bit right, I have to wake up in the morning and hear them bragging.

    Banty roosters, every one of them. A pox upon them all.

  8. I've vocalized MORE than my share of frustration with hyped severe weather coverage in Kansas City... and I've BEEN the coverage.

    That said... last night, even before the big event at 1:30-2am, I feel their coverage was justified. Unlike the last few years, when storms had tornado warnings expire, they got off the air. The sirens are the responsibility of the municipalities, and I think they were bigger idiots last night with sounding the sirens in areas that had absolutely no threat.

    Just because YOU didn't see the severe weather doesn't mean it's not important. Keep in mind that there actually were two tornadoes with those evening storms. One in Plattsburg and one near Belton. I'm sorry if ER is more important to you.

    It will be interesting to see how the severe weather coverage paradigm shifts once everyone has digital TV. Will these stations defer to their second channel for non-stop coverage and do only brief updates on the main station? Will it remain status quo? Somehow, I think the later will prevail.

  9. I'm with you Ed. My point was more a WTF at the people in charge of the sirens than with the television coverage.


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