I just got done watching about 30 minutes of the special “Hurricane Irene Information” Channel 259 on DirecTV where they are carrying live reports from ABC7 out of New York City. I’ve watched many TV channels tonight like it.
I had to laugh, because they had some kid with a goofy smile on his face named Scott Goldberg in Times Square who looked like “Fez” from That 70’s Show prattling on about the wind and rain while meanwhile in the background the mega-signage of Times Square flashing in the background and cabbies going along the street in a business as usual mode along with some Saturday night revelers heckling the camera from behind him. The lower third super says “Irene Arrives”.
Then they switched to a live report from Ocean City, MD, with some guy standing in what looked like the city park pointing out waving trees in the background, but he himself had no trouble standing up to do the report. Some B-roll showed some guy mugging for the camera elsewhere trying to “hold up” a tree. Of course the tree wasn’t falling over at all and he was just doing the usual silly things people do on camera sometimes.
Now we have a reporter in a red windbreaker who’s standing just off some rip-rap on the beach in New Jersey knee deep in some muddy water, holding a mic and adjusting his hip waders. He doesn’t realize he’s on camera and neither does the camera operator, who reveals when he pulls back just how “staged” the shot actually is.
Then we get treated to more shots of reporters around the area, standing in wind and rain, with idle commentary, basically waiting for something significant to report. B-roll footage used in live shots is now on repeats, so it appears they are out of fresh video. So they pop back to the weather center to report on wind gusts from 57-70 mph in the Maryland beach areas.
The weather Channel has some guy doing standup reports in Virgina Beach Virgina, and they ran a collage of various standups he did during the day, in various poses and weather attire against the wind and rain. Meanwhile motorists in the background downtown area seem to be going about there business as usual.
Then we had the report of Obama “taking command” in the emergency bunker…for a Category 1 storm no less. I don’t ever recall a president doing this. It seemed more like a campaign photo op than anything else.
On other channels I’ve seen tonight: footage of wind, rain, boats, rocking in the marina, some tree and limbs down, and some roof and building damages that are all consistent with a strong storm like a Nor’easter, but what I don’t see is anything beyond that. Now that just may be they don’t have access to the “hardest hit” areas or it may mean there’s just not a lot happening. There’s lots of hand waving and graphical bling though.
First let me say that forecasters of this storm have done an admirable job of forecasting the track of this storm, our friend Joe Bastardi has done a great job at getting the word out and NOAA’s NHC has done a good job at keeping the country updated. Information is flowing smoothly, and there seems to be no hiccups at all there.
It is not a problem that officials have erred somewhat on the side of caution. It is better to occasionally overreact to potential disasters than be caught flat-footed and under prepared when more severe disasters strike. It would be arrogant to play “Monday morning quarterback”, literally Monday in this case, and to berate officials who had to make a judgement call and put public safety first.
But while the track forecasts and warnings were spot on, the intensity forecast however hasn’t been as accurate. Yes there are 70+ mph wind gusts, storm surge, widespread power outages, and reports of general damage, but as this storm moves in the Washington-Baltimore and NYC areas, it just doesn’t seem all that bad as it was advertised to be.
I certainly don’t want to make light of anyone who has suffered because of the storm, that’s not my intent at all. I’m only focusing on the state of news reporting.
I recall images of “The Perfect Storm” from 1991 which wasn’t a hurricane, and it seemed to produce damages far worse than this storm. Here it is below on satellite:
Irene, except for being closer to land in in this shot, doesn’t look all that different from “The Perfect Storm” of 1991.
In summary, it seems to me that much of the news coverage is just a bit “over the top” to me, mostly because they’ve committed themselves to round the clock coverage, but really have little to report on. They have to fill time somehow.
And where oh where is the AGW fueled intensity forecast by wild eyed activist turned arrestee Bill McKibben who said ocean temperatures were “bizarrely high”? He said:
“These warm ocean temperatures will also make Irene a much wetter hurricane than is typical, since much more water vapor can evaporate into the air from record-warm ocean surfaces.”
Sure it dumped a lot of rain, but no more than most other storms. For a hurricane that supposedly “has global warming as a middle name“, it sure doesn’t act like it. People should stop listening to this arrogant activist, he hyped the storm worse than the worst TV news reports.
Our own Charles the Moderator passed on a piece of video a few days ago that captures the essence of the state of TV news reporting on weather from 14 years ago. How little has changed. Here it is:
If you have similar examples of TV news excess, post them below.
UPDATE: This morning we are being treated to lots of imagery of down trees and branches, street flooding, and people gawking at waves along boardwalks in Long Island. It seems Irene wasn’t really much worse than a strong Nor’easter. Places with aged stormwater systems like Philadelphia couldn’t handle the combination of storm surge and heavy rain so there is a lot of flooding there.