TRANSLATION: MEMPHIS: When It Rains, Local TV Pours...and Pours.. and... 

TRANSLATION: MEMPHIS

This is the tale of the little meteorologist who cried storm.

OK, OK, so, like those of you who weren’t clinging to a lamppost or huddled under a trestle trying not to get blown into the river on Friday, I sat fixated by the television, riveted by the multicolored depiction of our impending doom by tornado.

Or not, but so went the story.

I want to make it clear that I don’t have some odd prejudice against those who transmit pertinent messages about aspects of our environment that might be inconvenient, dangerous or both.

If it’s going to drizzle, by all means, mention it.

But, there’s something inherently anti-strategic about the wall-to-wall weather coverage that characterizes our city.

At what point, when it’s gotten to where I forget that a radar image of Memphis isn’t part of all syndicated programming in the US, would it seem necessary to pay attention?

It’s not that I’m unsympathetic to the idea that the weather, and the coverage thereof, is relevant. But I don’t need to see an image of every cloud that passes through on every channel. It’s excessive, pretty as they might be in shades of green, yellow and red.

Plus, it makes it hard to perceive just when the threat is truly significant.

Take Friday, for example. Now that was a PERFECT time for an interruption of our regularly scheduled programming.

Hats off to the networks for a responsible play-by-play of a reasonably threatening situation, especially in light of the number of people that were downtown for Barbeque fest.

It was a perfect time to mention that it’s apparently a myth that tornadoes can’t hit the city proper. It was fundamentally sound to note that a spotter thought they saw a funnel traveling down Elvis Presley, which thankfully, was not the case.

It was also excellent to urge people to avoid Tom Lee Park, which was ultimately evacuated.

The problem? Several of my friends noted that there’s so much weather coverage 'round these parts that it’s hard to know when to bother listening.

Were I to hop into my bathtub every time it’s recommended, I’d spend a truly inordinate amount of time there. My friends would start to look at me funny. It’d get embarrassing.

So, for the most part, I watch these broadcasts as if they are for another city, I ignore them until the sirens are whistling into the night, and the sky turns some freakish, apocalyptic color.

And even so, I stay on the couch, hoping that I’m not ignoring a true message of danger, but desensitized after too many warnings with a false sense of urgency.

Care to Respond?

READERS RESPOND:

Jenn:

Truly a well written and informative article. It also said a lot of things that needed to be said.

I look forward to reading more articles by you.

Kenneth J. Derrick 2
Memphis

Jenn,

When you rant about political and cultural topics, I usually disagree with you. But even when you wander into water-cooler topics like this one, I STILL can't agree!

I applaud our local TV stations for their weather coverage. They do a great job and its not easy trying to inform the public in detail about something that isn't entirely understood by the meteorologists themselves.

A lot of folks don't understand that our local TV stations cover a huge area that encompasses the entire mid-south - from the Missouri bootheel to Savannah TN to Oxford MS to Wynne AR. Even if it is sunny in Memphis, our stations have a moral obligation to cover severe weather in Kennett Missouri just as thoroughly as if the tornado were bearing down upon Memphis. It is downright selfish for people to care more about missing an episode of "Friends" than their fellow citizens in other parts of the mid-south.

They don't cover every drop of rain either. They go on the air whenever there is a tornado warning in their coverage area and also for selected severe t'storm warnings that have the potential to produce tornadoes, high winds, or large hail. What would you suggest they start ignoring?

They aren't doing this to piss you off. They're on the air to save lives.

Don Johnson
Memphis

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