Monday, March 2, 2009

The sky is falling, DC, the sky is falling!

By now, I've become accustomed to a certain amount of fear-mongering in my nightly news broadcast. It's the trendiest trend in news teasers and usually goes a little something like-a this:
"Tonight, at 5: is your pet killing your children? Tune in to find out, only on Channel 7."
" Could you contract a rare, incurable disease from fabric softener? Channel 2 has the answer, tonight at 6."

Ridiculous, of course, but I imagine it's a real ratings-booster or these topics would be a thing of the past. It's a shame that I've gotten used to news anchors trying to give me goosebumps, but it's more shameful that reporters seem to have misplaced their journalistic integrity (note: it's always in the last place you look).

Part of me wants to launch into a rant on the 24-hour news cycle, but I have to restrain myself. Perhaps another day. This post is about the blatant, enthusiastic, and - most importantly - mostly erroneous over-reporting committed by the most hated of all newscasters......the weatherperson.

My dad has never met a weatherman he likes. He's switched allegiances from NBC to CBS and back many a time just because he hates "that smiling asshole." Well, they're all smiling assholes, Dad. It's probably in the job description.

Living in the DC-metro area has added a whole new level of distaste for me, though. The weather people here cannot get over the fact that, gasp!, there is weather! And it's different, like, every day. They really shine, though, when there is a threat of extreme conditions. Take yesterday, for example.

My roommate informed me at about 2pm that our area was expecting 6-8 inches of snow. For DC, that's a huge deal since there are probably 6 plows in the entire DC-metro area (and maybe 4 people who know how to operate them). While watching TV last night, every. single. commercial break had a teaser urging me to watch the nightly news broadcast for the latest on this impending storm.

My first thought? SNOW DAY! Even though I did nothing (and I mean nothing) on Sunday, the chance not do anything again was intoxicating. And every single teaser and report was sending that same, subliminal message: "You are gonna get to stay home tomorrow. Break out the hot cocoa and marshmallows!"

Thankfully, I've been down here long enough to realize that the chance of any real snow fall was slim, no matter how many times Smiley McStormChaser informed me that the chance of precipitation over 4 inches was "100%." So I went to bed fully prepared for work on Monday, even though I was dreaming of snow angels.

Surprisingly, a good three inches of powder had accumulated when I woke up. But sure enough, when I called the emergency hotline for my office this morning, we were open. If I still lived in Boston, I wouldn't have even bothered to call anyone at my office; I would have just grumbled a little and gone out to my car to defrost the windshield. In the Northeast, weather is weather. It's gonna happen every day, and so is your commute. But in DC, weather is a phenomenom and should not be reckoned with. Average snowfall in this area is 17" but it doesn't ever come all at once....even though the weather reporters really want you to think it will next time.

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