Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The hype about the hurricane

40 people dead.

That includes five Pennsylvania residents, two in Delaware and six in New Jersey.

That doesn’t sound like hype to me.

At the height of the storm, more than 375,000 people were without power in the region. That includes 93,000 in Delaware County. This morning 29,000 people were still in the dark in Delco, two days after the sun broke through the clouds.

Hype?

More than 10 inches of rain drenched the area, sending streams and creeks cascadng over their banks. Yes, parts of Darby Borough were again under water. There were very bad situations also reported in Chester, Eddystone, Upland and Colwyn.

Businesses were damaged, homes and basements were waterlogged.

Irene’s nasty winds toppled trees onto homes and cars.

That’s not hype. That’s heartache.

I am not a big fan of the way the news media handles the weather. I kind of tolerate it. I know the deal. It’s about ratings.

There are no shortage of people today who are making the case that Hurricane Irene was more hype then hurricane, a figment of the TV folks who simply could not resist the summer version of the “Storm of the Century." I suppose you can lump newspaper coverage in there as well.

It was not the Storm of the Century. Many would argue it does not even compare to the wrath unleashed on the region by Hurricane Floyd a few years ago.

They complain that we are fast becoming the “boy who cried wolf,” that we are setting the table for a true disaster when the next big storm arrives and everyone shrugs their shoulders, says they’ve heard it all before, and ignores the warnings about pending disaster.

Politicians rivaled the newsfolks in getting their faces in front of the cameras and telling people to head for cover. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said it a tad big more colorfully, telling stragglers to “get the hell off the beach.”

In Philadelphia, Mayor Michael Nutter seemed to be setting the table for armageddon as he warned about the approaching storm and offered updates over the weekend.

Forecasting is an inexact science. No one really knows what these storms are going to do. If anything the media might have been guilty of not backing off some of the coverage once it became apparent that Irene was not “the storm of the century.”

I still have no problem with what they did, or in how the media covered it. OK, we really didn’t need the 24-hour TV coverage. Nor do we need to see one more reporter standing on the beach, or in a flooded creek.

But the bottom line is that for the most part, the region was prepared for anything Irene decided to dish out.

As it turns out, she decided to drench us, turning the wettest month in recorded history into an even soggier mess than imaginable.

It rained. We got high winds. We got tornado warnings. We did not get armageddon.

We also saw limited loss of life and property damage. People “got the hell” out of harm’s way.

That’s not hype. That’s a lot of heartache avoided. I’ll take that anytime, even if I have to swallow an ocean of Doppler radar along the way.

What do you think? Was the coverage hyped? Post a comment and join the conversation.

2 Comments:

Blogger Larson H said...

If the below link is true, it wasn't ever a hurricane, it was a tropical storm.

http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2011/08/when-did-irene-stop-being-hurricane.html

August 30, 2011 at 8:31 AM 
Anonymous Louise said...

Yes, it was hyped. I felt prepared. I think there might possibly have been worse heartache without the hype. People got out of the way, prepared their homes and yards, etc. prepared for the worst..including me. I'm not the least bit disappointed that I will be eating canned tuna and granola bars for some time to come. I truly think the hype helped and the evacuations and precautions taken saved lives and much worse damage.

August 30, 2011 at 8:35 AM 

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