A strong wind blows … oh, that’s the media, not Irene

I’m often finding that my Facebook discussions force me to focus my thoughts. It’s surprisingly productive. Maybe I should write my next book by arguing (amicably) with someone and then taking down the transcription.

So I’m reproducing here something I said to a buddy of mine about Hurricane Irene:

The thing about a storm like this, though, is that it may not wipe a city off the map (like Katrina, which has pretty much recalibrated our scales for how seriously we take hurricanes), but it affects a lot of people a bit.

Let’s say on a random day, something forces the NYC subway to close. That’s news. Might not matter a year later, but it’s still news that day. Irene caused many such things to happen. NY airports closed. Flooding in a lot of places — really nasty in some places. Cape Hatteras is used to hurricanes in many respects, but have you seen the pictures of the island basically divided into thirds? Any one of those things is somewhat newsworthy — add them all together, and it’s a pretty big deal. We’re talking billions of damage — though, thankfully, our robust economy will shrug that off.

The problem to me was that the coverage went ALL New York. At one point Sunday morning, CNN had footage from some unnamed semi-rural area (the graphics were all covering each other up on screen) that had rather several flooding. They neither named it nor talked about it because — oh my goodness! The East River is slightly above its banks! My shoes got wet!

The media also focused too much on the category number and not enough on how big — as in widespread — the storm was. Vermont didn’t get hit by 105-mph winds, but it’s underwater.

I know I’m being the wet blanket (as if I’d been left outside Saturday night). But I’m just cranky from driving back through Pennsylvania and encountering a road closure that left me lost somewhere in an unnamed town. Thought briefly about becoming Amish.

A follow-up in that discussion:

Don’t read the comments at Capital Weather Gang. “The MRHXGSA charts are showing 0.347 rads of moisture per parsec! Come on, let’s do better than that! I want 52 inches of snow on the ground by morning!” (The bloggers, by comparison, are quite restrained and reasonable. Quite unlike The Weather Channel’s site, which said nothing useful but said it all with exclamation points! This is a big hurricane! It’s going to affect New York! Look at this incomprehensible graphic!)



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