Have You Ever Saved A Life?
If this were boxing, they'd be called "tomato cans": easy targets that you can almost hit at will.
If it were a Mexican holiday, they'd be the pinata that the kids smack until it bursts, spewing candy all over the proceedings.
I'm talking about t-v weather forecasters who are by far the most easy targets in all of electronic journalism. They get ripped when they're wrong. They get heckled for hyping minor snowfalls. We chide them about their Dopplers and never miss an opportunity to remind them that we wish WE could get paid for being right only SOME of the time. Every radio chuckle-hut at one time or another targets the weather folk, turning them into punch lines. Who among us hasn't groused that Bill Carlsen and Albert the Alley Cat did the same job with better results minus the toys that today's Weather Centers sport as standard equipment?
That said, let's give these folks their due. I'm talking about what happened Monday afternoon here in southeast Wisconsin.
Eyebrows raised when the morning forecast called for a chance of thunderstorms, but no one figured Kenosha County would be dodging tornadoes before the day was out. Folks living there did, though, and they can thank meteorologists for getting the word out--warnings that no doubt saved lives. I'm not being overly dramatic here. There are many reasons why the death toll stayed at zero and the weather folk are a major one. People heard the warnings, heeded the advice, and got out of harm's way.
It's been a remarkable winter--one that, technically, is but three weeks old. January 2008 proved that severe weather doesn't take a month off (February is the only month during which we HAVEN'T had a tornado in Wisconsin). It's nice to know our weather forecasters had their summer skills, even in the dead of winter.
No one is perfect, and I'm sure there will someday be another forecast that called for sun when in fact, we got a wash-out. There'll be breathless coverage of more two-inch snowfalls. The reassuring part is that, when it really counted this week, local forecasters did the job--and then some. They got the word out in a calm, measured way. They warned of danger, but kept the hype glands in check. It was life or death, and they were more than up to the challenge.