The Ottumwa Courier

March 5, 2013

Storm reporters: Really feel the weather!

MATT BRINDLEY
Ottumwa Courier

OTTUMWA — Ahhh, another snowstorm the week of the Iowa Girls High School Basketball Tournament. Right on schedule. When you buy your calendar each year and are filling out your birthdays and appointments, be sure to write in “SNOWSTORM” for the last week of February, introducing March.

What I get a kick out of are all of the poor storm-coverage weather reporters thrown out into the violent fury to report on the danger and ferocity of Mother Earth. Do you ever stop and ask yourself, is this right? Is this safe?

Do we really need to throw people out there to risk their lives reporting to make us “feel” the wrath of nature? Couldn’t we just have a camera shot of the blinding wind, the whiteout conditions, the 40-below wind chills, the occasional tree blowing by? But, no, no ... that’s not real enough. You see, there’s just too much competition out there.

Let’s check in at the Weather Channel to take a peek in today’s “Survivor”  storm coverage.

Anchorman Alex: “And now we take you to the peak of the storm and we have a reporter standing by ... Rachel, it’s quite a blizzard, isn’t it?”

Reporter Rachel, covered head to toe in layers of winter gear, struggling to stand in place, “It certainly is, the wind is just whipping me around ...” Rachel twirls around trying to keep her footing, “Oh my gosh! Wooh!”  Rachel grabs her hat almost blowing off and pulls it down. Nervously giggling, trying to play off the near fall, “We’re on the air — wind and snow right into my face! It’s difficult to stand in one place! Sorry about that! Ahh, that stings on your face!”

Reporter Rachel tries to keep her balance while composing herself, shouting to be heard over the fierce winds. “We’re outside the department of public works right now and they are expecting crews from the national grid about 9:30! They are telling us about more power outages. Please stay off the roads — the department of transportation has released a warning to travel at your own peril! If you get stuck you may have to stay there for the night because rescue teams have been pulled off the roads!” Rachel twirls around again, twisting in the wind, “Oh, that wind stings!”

Back at the warm and toasty Weather Channel central office, Anchorman Alex grins, shaking his head, while looking at Rachel on the screen behind him. Rachel holds onto a pole to keep from blowing away.

Anchorman Alex: “Thanks for the report Rachel. We’ll have continued coverage from our storm teams across the country after these messages and your local weather.”

And cut ... we’re at commercial.

Anchorman Alex: “OK, let’s check in with each of our storm reporters before we bounce around to them at the top of the hour.”

Reporter Rachel: “Al .. Al ... Alex?”

Anchorman Alex drinks his coffee, looking down at his stack of papers, “Yeesss Rachel.”

Reporter Rachel: “I, I ... ca ... ca .. can’t feel my toes anymore. I ... I.. wa .. want to go back inside.”

Anchorman Alex: “Oh, Rachel. Dear, dear Rachel.” Alex shakes his head, “Do you think the reporters are inside over at CNN? Huh? Do you think the reporters are inside over at Fox? Or MSNBC? YOU STAY OUT THERE! You see, it’s not enough anymore to simply report the weather. There’s too much competition. This is the Weather Channel. We need our viewers to FEEL the weather! Hey, people can get the weather anywhere ... but to FEEL the ferocity, the danger ... now that’s weather TV! Hey, can someone get me some more coffee? This isn’t warm enough. Actually, get me a Vanilla Spice Latte. And maybe one of those Mocha Scones. And step on it. I’ve got a show to do.”

Reporter Rachel: “But ... but Alex, my teeth are cha ... cha .. chattering. My lips turned blue a half .... half hour ago.”

Anchorman Alex, sipping his Spice Latte, “Rachel, now look. You wanted to be a weather reporter, right?”

Reporter Rachel, chattering teeth getting worse: “Ye ... ye ... yes, bu ... bu ... but inside ... showing the ma .... the ma ... the map.”

Anchorman Alex, rolling his eyes: “What do you think — you just get a job like mine? You’ve got to pay your dues kid. Look we’ve got you chained down — you’re not going to blow away. You’re fine. Stop your whining.”

Rachel: “But ... but ... my fingers are numb .. the ... the ... blowing ice is stinging my face. I’m going in.”

Anchorman Alex: “Don’t you dare! You stay out there! Hey cameraman, don’t unchain Rachel. Listen Rachel, you signed the contract, Are you reneging? The contract ... nor snow, nor sleet, nor rain ... it’s the first one! Do you realize how many people are lined up to take your job? Don’t you dare go inside! You stay out there or you’re fired!”

Anchorman Alex shakes his head and continues: “Geez, Joan of Arc did less whining at the stake. Get her replacement if she leaves. OK, let’s quickly do a roll-call check on our other reporters before we come back on at the top of the hour. Down to the southeast, we’ve got tornadoes. How are you doing Rick?”

Reporter Rick is tied by a rope to a tree while being violently blown to a 65 degree angle.

Reporter Rick: I’m scared! I want to go home!”

Anchorman Alex: “You stay out there! Don’t you go inside ya whiney wimp! We need to FEEL this weather! Anyone can report on it. The audience needs to FEEL it! Now how about Ray down in the floods. Are you there?

Reporter Ray is standing in a rapid current of floodwaters up to his chest: “I’m having trouble holding on Alex! And now something big just wrapped around my foot! Is it true there’s pythons down here?

Anchorman Alex: “No, no. Those stories have been greatly exaggerated. Now get your notes straight. Ignore the snake. We’re on at the top of the hour.”

Reporter Ray: “Why did I go into weather, why? We’re always wrong anyway — I should have stayed in school!”

Anchorman Alex: “Well it’s too late now, so quit your whimpering. What — you think you’re so special you figured that out! Of course we’re always wrong! But people listen to us anyway. That’s why it’s the perfect gig ... if you survive the on-site storm reporting.

“And finally, we’ve got a volcano ready to erupt in New Zealand at Mount Ruapehn. Ron, are you there?"

Reporter Ron is entangled in climbing equipment, standing at the top of the volcano looking in the the smoking fury.

Reporter Ron: “I want to go home.”

Anchorman Alex: “Rooon. Get in.”

Reporter Ron: “Get in? Are you crazy?”

Anchorman Alex: “Yes, Ron, get in the volcano. Now get in there and start reporting!”

And the competition keeps upping the ante on the daring storm coverage. It has to be safe. It’s approved to be on TV, right?

Isn’t it nice, to pull up the covers and turn on the Weather Channel. I mean you can really FEEL the weather, can’t you?