Taking Severe Weather to the Extreme…

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I love the weather and am fascinated by its extremes. Just recently I was wondering why so many of us are thrilled by the extremes yet at the same time seemingly bored by anything less. As an example, I thought: the TV weatherperson. You’ve likely seen the local TV meteorologist battling the weather, in the elements and likely at great peril to not only himself but the production crew as well. Why?

TV coverage of Hurricane Katrina in Mobile. Photo: WALA-TV

Scientists have proven there are chemicals in the brain that cause some of us to seek out the thrills that others shy away from. A friend of mine loves the pending landfall of an approaching hurricane while most of us prefer to run the other way and at the same time trying to will the hurricane to pick a different course. My friend is not alone — racing drivers, parachuters, circus acrobats – all have a need to feel (much) more of a rush than the rest of us. And then there’s the TV meteorologist.

Hurricane Rita Evacuation, Houston. Photo: Creative Commons

How many times have we seen the TV meteorologist waist deep in flooded roadways, or trying to stand straight in a howling wind, or not quite succeeding in maintaining footing in a blizzard? Before coming to ImpactWeather I used to do TV reports in the middle of snowstorms when I lived in Omaha and Sioux City, Iowa. There is nothing more enjoyable (odd as that sounds) than letting the viewer know what’s going on! And being out in the elements, dangerous though it may be, makes for good television (read: high ratings). Still, it brings me a thrill I just can’t get on a sunny summer day. I feel I’m doing my duty bringing the outside weather inside to my viewers, while at the same time feeding my need for a “rush” and helping my TV station — I hope! — earn higher ratings.

As we head into the heart of hurricane season, it’s a better-than-fair bet we’ll watch — somewhere — some TV meteorologist in the midst of a hurricane as he reports the weather. Will you tune in and root him on? Will you drive to the coast to join him? Or, will you turn the channel? Let us know of your thoughts in the comments section below.

Hurricane Katrina as a Category 5 storm. Image: NOAA

Anderson Cooper during Hurricane Katrina. Photo: CNN

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