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Harris Blackwood: We’re getting soaked by a deluge of weather reporting
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

I once worked at a radio station that played country music except when there was bad weather. When there was a serious watch or warning, we would play gospel music; I’m not sure if was a mere warning system or in some hope that the Lord might spare our tower and transmitter.

If you were listening at two in the afternoon and heard Conway Twitty or Merle Haggard, you could go about your business. But if you heard The Happy Goodman Family, it might be time to find a place of shelter.

We had an emergency radio that received the broadcast of the National Weather Service. We also had a teletype that would sound a number of bells if there was an urgent matter, including a bad storm.

These days, TV stations love bad weather. They are fighting for their share of the audience and nothing makes folks tune in like a storm. They’ve got the latest pinpoint action live color Doppler radar that will tell you if it is raining in your front yard or back.

They crow about which one is the most powerful or which one cares about you and your family most. I love when the weather stars get tired and they put the rookies out there in front of the camera. You’ll know them because they mispronounce the names of towns like Braselton, Hoschton and Winder.

Every station now has a vehicle with a camera mounted on top. They will find the first raindrop or snowflake and report it immediately. They do this while someone else is at the wheel. I love when the reporter says, “Authorities are warning everyone to stay off the roads.” Does this not apply to the raindrop camera truck?

Then there are those guys who stand out in the gust of a hurricane.

During Hurricane Florence, some guy was spinning around in the wind gust. Behind him, some folks were just walking by.

But there is nothing impressive about a guy who is holding a wind gauge and telling you how fast the hurricane is blowing.

I’m glad we have better forecasting of bad storms. Radar is a far cry from the black and white images of just a generation ago. I’d rather know that a storm is on the way, rather than listening to the Chuck Wagon Gang singing “Jesus Hold My Hand” as a warning.

But I watched again this week as well-educated people stood out in winds approaching 100 miles per hour and tried to report on what they were seeing.

One guy stepped inside a hotel about the time the portico fell in and crushed two cars. He was fortunate that it didn’t crush him.

I admit I like to watch some of their shenanigans, but sometimes it borders on silliness. You can’t base your entire report on what you see around you. What would be wrong with waiting until it is safe to go out and look around.

Maybe the TV stations should invest in some gospel videos.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear Sundays.

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