When did weather reports become “extreme sports events?”
Weather people no longer simply report the arrival of cold fronts, warm fronts, high pressure systems or low pressure systems. They no longer point out bands of showers, snow, occasional hail or thunder storms.
Weather reports now rival the multi-media madness of a John Madden telestrator sport’s cast. We’re slammed, battered and beaten by meteorologists as they gyrate and gesticulate wildly while hyperbolating about daily weather patterns simultaneously flipping 3-D maps that resemble the battle lines of invading armies.
The elevation of weather to “terror status” involves Arctic Air Masses, fast moving Alberta Clippers, Polar Vortexes (or should that be “Vortices?”) and, God forbid, the dreaded Bombogenisis, alleged to be responsible for the record-breaking Nor’easter that recently buried the battered New England coast in mountains of snow and ice.
Weather fear mongers now provide hallucinatory estimates of the number of people trapped in the pathway of “mega-weather-nados” clearly demonstrating imminent danger to at least half of the world’s population.
Terrifying video from weather watchers and storm chasers blasts through our wide-screen TVs. Live footage of massive property destruction, distraught people searching for missing pets and the unleashed power of a vengeful and unkind “Mother Nature” is our breakfast partner, lunch date and evening dinner companion.
We no longer enjoy sunny days, because we’re subjected to a calibrated weather alarm system that warns us of UVA indices, heat indices and sunburn, a/k/a skin cancer.
Children can’t be sent out to play in the snow anymore without checking wind-chill data and the risks of frost bite. Remember when the only parental warnings were, “Don’t eat the yellow snow” or “Don’t put your tongue on the metal stair railing?”
If you’re an allergy sufferer, you might as well give it up. Pollen counts tell you there’s absolutely no way you can venture outside the confines of your hermetically sealed home without sneezing, coughing or suffering a debilitating asthmatic reaction as you tackle the everyday task of breathing.
When did reporting our daily weather take on this threatening language and painting Mother Nature as the latest incarnation of “Mommy Dearest”?
You might think it started with the Weather Channel (May 1982), whose staple is the fluttering stop sign in rain, hail, sleet and snow. Snow drifts piled high, trees bending to kiss the beach sand or waves crashing over seawalls also occupy major portions of the Weather Channel’s time.
But for me, weather as the main event started in the 1960s, when a local Florida weatherman appeared on my TV with two cowboy hats; the white one for reporting high pressure systems which he dubbed, “the good guys.” And he donned the black hat while describing low pressure systems he labeled “the bad guys.”
After that foot in the door, it took a mere wind gust to carry weather reporting from the demure, yet very well endowed “Weather Girl,” to the stomping Weather Storm Troopers and the Prophets of Doom who have high-jacked our wide screens.
I cry out … “Willard Scott, where are you when we need you?”