Dear Weather Channel . . .

. . . have I mentioned, lately, how much you suck, and how much I hate you?

If not: You do, and I do. Lots.

My family and I live in a part of the country that has lovely summers and beautiful autumns, offset by cold and snowy winters and short, wet, muddy springs. It’s the way things are here. No surprises, really. Only rarely do things get so out of whack that they merit special mention, weather-wise. We understand that snow is part of the deal here in Upstate New York, and when we get to a point where we can’t stand that anymore, we know that we have other options available to us.

We don’t like the winters here, exactly, but we’re used to them, and we deal with them, like a million or so neighbors of ours in the greater (Indie) Albany region do. But I’ve got to be brutally candid with you, Weather Channel: none of us up here appreciate the scaremongering that has become your stock and trade whenever a storm is forecast to pass through the region. It’s tough enough living, working, and driving through these storms, without you fanning the flames of hysteria days in advance of any adverse weather event, for no other purpose other than to generate views at your stupid television station or hits at your stupid website.

I work at the University of Albany, which is one of the largest employers in New York’s Capital Region, and which serves a community of about 25,000 people, when you count residential students, commuter students, researchers, faculty and administration. Our University was closed today, in large part due to anticipatory response to the hysteria that you pitched to our community earlier this week. This has an immense economic and academic impact on our students and the community around us. In my own area of responsibility, I lost income from our campus bank, our campus bookstore, and our campus retail food service outlets. The contractors who work under my supervision had to spend good money to put employees up at hotels near the campus to make sure that we could feed our resident students today. These are big hits, at a time when our national economic narrative dictates that we shouldn’t be sending workers home, and we shouldn’t be shutting down retail venues, and we shouldn’t stop selling the things that we sell, and that our students want (and need) to buy.

As things turned out, I’m guessing that the vast majority of us probably could have made it to campus today. But you made us shut down instead, because you have marketed yourselves to the point where you are viewed as neutral and credible, and we listen to the skewed, biased pap that you feed us. Which is ultimately stupid, on our parts, because you and your ilk spent the past 72 hours putting graphics like this one up on your websites and television stations just so we’d tune in for more (exaggerated for humorous effect, but not by much):

While I totally understand that forecasting weather is an inexact science, and that you are likely to be wrong as often as you are right, what I object to, fundamentally, is the spin you put on weather events, for no apparent reason other than to generate traffic to feed your advertising monster, because a happy advertising monster equates to happy shareholders which equates to happy corporate executives. And we all have to keep the bossman (and his stock portfolio) happy, each and every one of us. So our economic and academic loss here in Albany, in other words, was clearly to your economic gain.

Well played, Evil Corporate Greedheads. Well played, indeed.

I’ve reached a point where every time I see one of your graphics screaming about “storm of the century” or other such twaddle, my gut reaction to such hyperbole is as follows:

Were I King of America for a day, I think one of my dictates would hinge on returning weather forecasting to a place where it could be disseminated as a public, nonprofit good, so that slick corporate shills would no longer have the ability to profit by creating hysteria over routine natural phenomena. (The current “storm of the century” would appear to be, here in Albany, maybe the third worst storm of the current winter. Maybe. It’s nothing special, that’s for sure).

What you are really selling, The Weather Channel, may be best summarized per the graphic below:

We have become coarse and jaded here in these United States, and television shows about sunny, pleasant climes just don’t get us going like they used to. We need ever more stimulation to get us where we need to be, and you, Weather Channel, are always ready with reports of thundersnow or snownadoes or trains blown off tracks by hurricane force winds or whatever the hell other weird, isolated, local phenomena that you can trot out as national news to scare a third of a billion people, most of whom will, at any given time, experience nothing out of the norm for their regions and climes.

One of Indie Albany’s guiding principles is that we offer safe-for-work material at not more than a PG-13 level. Which is a good thing for you, because I could wax really, extensively profane about the irresponsibility of your coverage, and the deep evil associated with profiting from scaring people, while seriously impacting the economy in any number of communities across this great nation of ours. What you do is wrong, fundamentally. And I hate you for doing it.

If there is such a thing as a snownado, here’s hoping with great fervor and sincerity that it strikes your corporate headquarters sometime soon, not injuring any of the your staff level employees (who are just trying to feed their families, like all the rest of us), but wiping out your ability to sell Weather Porn to a gullible, frightened consumer base.

In a just world, this would happen soon. I am predicting tomorrow. Be scared, Weather Channel. Be very scared, indeed.

18 thoughts on “Dear Weather Channel . . .

  1. TWC used to be so cool…it is now a total joke. My biggest beef isn’t the Wagnerian forecasting, but rather the apocalyptic feature shows. HEY, YOU’RE A WEATHER CHANNEL! SHOW US THE g-d WEATHER!

  2. The local stations are just as bad — and worse if you consider that their audience in this market is many times larger. They didn’t just hype the non-storm on the air, but all over Twitter and Facebook for the past several days.

  3. May I humbly recommend the Weather Underground website. They basically repackage the local NWS data, and there are some interesting photos posted on Jeff Master’s blog. If you want the unfiltered NWS products, their website is here.

    Reading the NWS forecast discussions, it was pretty clear that forecasters were uncertain about where the cutoff between sleet and all snow was going to be. The fact that the storm never rose to the level of a blizzard warning should have tipped people off.

    • Good lead, Jeff . . . . I think the fundamental underlying theme of all of this to me is that Weather (like News) should NOT be considered and presented as entertainment. It’s a valuable public service of the large and decentralized nature that government provides best. People can get the facts, such as they are, by going to the source . . . not by having it all porn-ed up by the entertainment industry.

      During hurricane season, I have ALWAYS depended solely on NOAA’s National Hurricane Center . . . dispassionate, technical, factual reports. All I need. I have to remember to do the same during the Winter Season up here . . .

  4. Well said Eric,

    I have turned off more weather related stories on the television this past week than I care to remember. All the hype seldom has delivered anything that the masses can’t work around. Lots of “twaddle”. I like that word.

    Regards, BMG

  5. There is a sucker born every minute and we were an easy mark because of the snow disaster on Tuesday. Promise me that someday we will construct our lives to avoid this type of weather, except when we are in the mood to relive our childhood snow days.

  6. I don’t even listen to what they say until I can SEE the cloud on the radar looming over my town. THEN I believe they have a clue. Until then, they are just making stuff up as far as i can tell.

  7. Government may well be far better at impacting weather than reading it–better at attempting to use it as a weapon than anticipating it. As far as I’m concerned, such bureaucratic “forecasters” are so politically manipulated–even, at times, politically motivated–that they’d have trouble accurately “predicting” yesterday’s weather.

  8. Pingback: Nippertown!

  9. I much prefer witches’ “teats.” Well, I don’t exactly prefer them; I just think this rather archaic–decidedly, animalistic–term makes the likely meager, probably mangy, mammaries sound even less desirable. While “teats” is, admittedly, not necessarily more accurate, I am convinced it paints a far less attractive picture.
    Though, at this very moment, I can’t–for the life of me–recall why I am so determined to portray old hags’ breasts in the worst possible light.

    • I have to agree, Frank . . . I’d have edited that graphic there if I could have, though I might have gone for “Witches’ Dugs” to move even another layer down on the desirability scale . . .

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