Friday, August 9, 2013

If You Enjoyed Reading "Warnings"...'ll love reading this article about the soon-to-be-retiring Gary England and Oklahoma City television weather. The story is so good that I generally want it to speak for itself. But, I can't resist commenting on one item.

In Chapter 3 of Warnings titled, "Nice People, But Odd" I talk about how meteorologists' language "inverts" during major storms in these words:

It is a natural human emotion to want to be proud of one’s work. When a surgeon repairs a knee, when an air traffic controller guides an aircraft in distress to a safe landing, or when a wide receiver catches a touchdown pass, the emotion is celebratory, or even jubilant. The airliner’s captain keys the microphone and utters a terse “thanks” while they she is wiping the sweat off her brow. Your co-workers or teammates offer pats on the back. The crowd cheers.

So … How you would feel if you were a meteorologist who had just forecast a tornado? Are you happy if no tornado occurs, invariably followed by the inevitable criticism of, “they never get the forecast right!” or the ever-popular “I wish I could keep my job and be wrong that often!” delivered with a sarcastic tone?

Or, do you hope for the tornado?

Author Sam Anderson, caught this perfectly and writes:

It could even — in a perfect-storm, Armageddon kind of scenario — hit the basketball arena, where a benefit concert was being held for the victims of the May 20 tornado. The storm’s velocity couplet — bright contiguous patches of red and green on the radar, the signature of rotation — suddenly spiked to dangerous levels. The young meteorologists ran around exchanging acronyms. Castor shouted, “Woo-hoo!” (One tension of covering severe weather — one I experienced many times during three days in the studio — is that you often find yourself rooting for the storm. You don’t want it to do serious damage, of course, but you would like it to be interesting, and these desires are often at cross-purposes.)

Sam wanted it to be interesting (since he was writing a story about it) and the meteorologists wanted to be right. 

Hat tip: G. R. Moore

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