Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Percy Saltzman and weather porn


Percy Saltzman was a TV meteorologist. They were no weather men in those days. He had a chalkboard and analyzed the weather patterns, there were no "Oh my it will rain" or "I am so so sorry about the weekend", it was just the weather.

Today we have weather men, personalities in their own right with their own twitter accounts. Complete with the latest technologies, these weather people make it seem that they in fact control the weather. It usually starts with the inane news host who says "How is the weekend looking..." and then a pained expression. There is no science in this, it is all cute, apologetic and overkill. The swirling satellite images look daunting and with a serious expression the weather people will tell you yes partial cloud, scattered showers and a 20km/hr wind. What that means is nothing except a breeze all bets are off. But the weather personality cult is such that it has many people terrorized.

My mother actually believes the weather forecasts. She thinks it is akin to having a horoscope cast, fixed and rigid. She is unaware that the weather forecasts themselves are based on models and guesses and approximations. Thus my mother hears scattered showers and a 20 km.hr wind and she is prepared for a deluge with wind. It does not help that we are constantly bombarded with images of floods, and storms.

The weather person cult is like Fox news. When you listen to Fox news you are convinced you are in the middle of a crime zone and the streets around you are crawling with drug crazed maniacs. The only safe thing is to lock your doors and wait until Fox news pronounces it safe. In Canada we don't have Fox news but we do have weather people who have a cult following and have people actually believe them.

I lived in Newfoundland where you can have three seasons in one day so I take weather people with a healthy dose of skepticism.

I miss Percy Saltzman. The weather people today would do well to learn from his example, cut the hype, cut the cuteness..just the facts ma'am.

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