Fie on the Weather Channel for its undue alarmism!


Timothy Egan NAILS IT:

By naming routine winter storms Gandalf, or Khan, the Weather Channel is trying to become the news, and is changing behavior. Triton, another name given another typical winter storm, was said to be “targeting California” not long ago, like North Korean nukes.

The effect is to trivialize the real thing, to put breathless graphics and histrionics ahead of science and public safety. You saw the same thing happen to the stock market when Jim Cramer brought clown-show theatrics and spittle-spewing outbursts — “buy! buy! buy!” — to decisions that should call for patient analysis. Many people lost a bundle in the run-up to the last recession when they trusted stock tips from a cable television barker.

The local stations, and some newspaper video sites, have picked up on the trend. Where I live, in Seattle, the seasons are usually benign, but when a threat of a half-inch of snow beckons, the media jockeys now go into full Defcon 1 mode, naming the storm and searching the sky for first flakes. The city is paralyzed in anticipation. Alas, the locals may soon be replaced by an outsourced, and regionally tailored, model from the Weather Channel. Say goodbye to your likable chucklehead in a fashion-challenged outfit.

This week, one of the featured stories on weather.com was a piece on “how to deal with storm stress.” Here’s a suggestion in that regard, with a lovely spring forecast ahead for most of the country this weekend: don’t watch the Weather Channel.



  1. It’s important to be vigilant when it comes to severe weather but our local forecasters tend to produce unnecessary anxiety just to encourage viewers to watch their newscast and listen to their sponsors. Spotting a tumbleweed in Nebraska doesn’t mean we need to prepare to crawl under the workbench in the basement.

  2. AmazingScott

    I’ve said this before- they aren’t in the business of providing timely and accurate weather information anymore, they’re in the business of saying whatever it takes to get people to watch the commercials…

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