Weatherman interrupts football game

Todd Lemery

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Jun 2, 2014
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So, during a tied football game with under 30 seconds left, a Houston meteorologist interrupted the game to notify the public of a radar indicated tornado warning. I was watching the game when this happened and I wasn’t too thrilled. It wasn’t that he interrupted the game, but rather it was that he droned on and on while constantly repeating himself for almost a half hour, all over a weak velocity signature. He could have provided all the relevant information in about two minutes.
I don’t want him tarred and feathered like some do, but making viewers mad won’t exactly encourage them to pay attention the next time he comes on. There were no tornadoes.
 

rdale

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Mar 1, 2004
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It's a tough situation... In instances where the TV weathercaster doesn't have good radar skills, he/she really has to stick with the full NWS warning. And with TV stations cutting back on salaries for TV mets, you aren't going to get people with good radar skills in those positions.
 
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Jul 5, 2009
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Regardless of the TV weathercaster’s radar skills, or lack thereof, it would seem that a red, beeping warning crawl at the bottom of the screen could have done the trick, keeping people safe while enabling them to keep watching the game. The article notes this as an alternative, along with split screen or picture-in-picture.
 
Feb 19, 2021
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Yes, we are sometimes overdoing tornado warnings these days. I would have suggested a brief break-in with the meteorologist on-camera and then a graphic (with words) that stated the threat area. The met could have gone back on camera during network commercials (which do not bring the local stations any revenue).

There was a damaging tornado well to the east of HOU. Tornado touches down in St. Charles Parish

There was an interesting conversation on Twitter this morning as to the qualifications (if any) needed to be called a "meteorologist." I believe that people who issue storm warnings (government or private sector) should be qualified to do so and wrote a blog piece on this topic:
Meteorologists and State Licensing

There is currently no state nor federal licensing for meteorologists. That is probably good except in the field of life-threatening storm warnings. I explain why in my blog piece.
 
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Aug 25, 2022
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I am not very experienced in the weather community, but in my opinion, this is why people become desensitized to warnings because of warnings that most of the time do not affect them. Again, just my opinion, and should be taken lightly.
 

rdale

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Regardless of the TV weathercaster’s radar skills, or lack thereof, it would seem that a red, beeping warning crawl at the bottom of the screen could have done the trick
No - not if there's an active tornado and it's impacting populated areas. You HAVE to be on the air for that.

But since many TV weathercasters don't have the training and education to be able to interpret radar and conduct a mesoanalysis, they rely on Severe Weather Statements which typically only come every 15-30 minutes (if at all.) That's why they pretty much have to stay on air.
 

Matthew E Herbert

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Apr 23, 2016
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I really think a crawl or even splitting the screen would have worked in this case. If a tornado was reported on the ground in their viewing area or a debris signature was evident then that's a whole different ball game at least in my opinion. Been a very long time since I've posted and my only qualifications are being a spotter for the NWS and a weather enthusiast so I hope you all don't mind my two cents.
 
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rdale

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I really think a crawl
As noted above - a crawl for a tornado warning is not an option.

splitting the screen
Speaking from experience - holiday production staffing is usually VERY low. It's most likely that there was one director and the meteorologist and maybe an audio person. Working in a split screen isn't as easy as it sounds :)

Been a very long time since I've posted and my only qualifications are being a spotter for the NWS and a weather enthusiast so I hope you all don't mind my two cents.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion ;) I'm just speaking from experience as someone who did this for many years in the real world. I cut in for every tornado warning and stayed on the air until I felt it was no longer necessary, but that only comes through experience and knowledge as a noted above. It's "safer" for the weathercaster to stick with NWS warnings.
 
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May 12, 2022
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I'd say it's one of those deals where you're damned if you do, and damned if you don't. People are gonna be upset that the game was interrupted, and if it was handled with a crawl, people would be saying the Met should've been on the air.

When you say a crawl is NOT an option @rdale ... is that your opinion, or is there a formal policy that a Met has be on air during a warning? Not trying to be facetious, as I'm actually curious. I'd like to think that there has to be a compromise with our current technology.... but I guess money, for what is a semi-rare event, is a limiting factor in that regard.

Maybe the answer would be to replay the missed part of the program or game from where the Met cut in, after the warning/danger has expired.... but that has it's issues too.
 
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rdale

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Oh it depends on the station of course - but if you are in a major market and NOT on the air when a tornado warning is in effect for one of the highest populated areas of your market, your ratings will suffer.

Suffer A LOT.

If you’re the MeTV affiliate then of course a crawl is fine. But people expect to turn the TV on and see a person when the sirens are sounding. If you aren’t there, they’ll find an alternate - and the data shows that once people see you dropped the ball they are not inclined to come back.

Regarding network broadcasts - there are a LOT of hurdles to clear in order to re-air something we preempted. I’ve never heard of it happening in sports.