Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cheers and Jeers: Tornado Edition

"Jeers: To CBS 11's chief weather guy, Larry Mowry, for being the new 'Chicken Little.' He keeps interrupting the TV programs to bring us a weather update every time a clap of thunder occurs."
-- Harlan Wood, Grapevine, in Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 14, 2011

Just ten days ago, Fort Worth Star-Telegram panned Channel 11 for taking thunderstorms in Tornado Alley seriously, worthy of informing its viewers about. Since then, at least 120 people were killed in a tornado in Joplin, Missouri. Just Tuesday night, 8 more people were killed in a tornado in Oklahoma City and several more in Kansas and Arkansas. Let's never get blasé about them, OK?

After the jump, north Texas's turn to duck and cover!

As a line of thunderstorms moved through the Dallas area Tuesday evening, as winds whipped trees and hail pelted roofs, as storm sirens blared, many Dallas area residents turned to television to track the storms. Many landed on Channel 11, which provided excellent coverage of the storms, from the studio and the field, including one shot of a shattered rear window of a reporter's car with a tennis-ball* size hailstone on the rear window ledge.

Wow! What sounds. What flashes of light. What thrills and chills. What a show! Of course, I'm talking about "Dancing with the Stars," which is what Channel 8 chose to stick with. Is that bad? Do we really need every local television station providing coverage of the very same thing? Probably not. Channel 8's good ratings suggest that a lot North Texans were less concerned with Tornado Alley's survival than with Kirstie Alley's survival in a dance contest. So, for future reference, Channel 11 is the source for breaking news. Channel 8 is the source for break dancing.

Finally, a note to the Channel 11 weatherman: please call your program director. He's not happy that you told viewers who tuned in expecting regular programming that they weren't missing anything -- Channel 11 just had reruns all night anyway.

* Mark's Stylebook: When reporting hail size, it's OK to supersize your descriptions just like the fast food restaurants. Pea-size hail hasn't fallen since the '80s. Now, the smallest size is marble-size. What used to be marble-size is now golf ball size, golf ball size is now tennis ball size, and if you can actually hear the hail on the roof of your television studio and your car is in the studio parking lot, go ahead and call it baseball size.

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