It snowed yesterday. Hardly an out-of-the-ordinary event in southeast Michigan; it wasn’t even that bad a storm. Having shoveled the sidewalk, I’d say we got, oh, five or six inches.
But even in a latitude accustomed to this sort of thing, a snowfall like this is a nuisance. Predictably so — commutes lengthen, school and other events are cancelled. It happens.
So last night, we watched the local Detroit news. First story: Snow. Second story: Snow. Third story: Snow. (Yes, friends, it was a “team coverage” event!) Next story: Snow. Then the weather report: Snow. Next story: Snow.
At this point I went to bed. (The reporter was gesturing to the snow at her feet — which the camera operator helpfully tilted down to show us — and saying it “could give drivers trouble.”) Alan reported the ENTIRE REMAINDER OF THE BROADCAST was: Snow.
The new wrinkle seems to be the device reporters are now issued along with their logo-branded jackets — little wooden rulers, like the ones in your desk in fourth grade. They’re occasionally commanded by the anchors to thrust these things into the snow and report how deep it is, so the anchors can then chuckle about being warm and dry in the studio and “Stay warm, Jill!”
The closest we came to anything approaching real news was the hospital angle, when a reporter went to an emergency room and reported people were arriving with injuries from “falls.” (Why they don’t go to dry cleaners in summer thunderstorms to see whether people are bringing their good gabardine suits in with water damage, I don’t know.) A woman wearing a cervical collar on a gurney was interviewed live, to report that it was slippery out there and she did, indeed, fall. “So be careful,” advised the somber reporter. “Back to you!”
Today’s forecast: Bitter cold. I’ll keep you posted.
Jim Sweeney said on January 15, 2004 at 10:50 am
Amen. I live in Cleveland where regular snowfall is an annual feature. But out local newscasters, many of whom have been on the air here for a long time, continue to treat it like it was a rain of frogs.
A four-inch snowfall in January is not news. And I curse the person who invented wind chill.
deb said on January 15, 2004 at 3:18 pm
my favorite newscaster trick, apart from the ruler, is the shot of the reporter crouching to put a gloved hand into the snow, lifting a handful, and letting it fall. to show us…what? its consistency?
it’s only a matter of time before they start appropriating the language of alaska’s native peoples, so they can use twenty-five different words to describe the particular KIND of snow we’re having. that, at least, would be interesting.
Pam said on January 15, 2004 at 7:58 pm
I’m with you Deb. I took a linquistics class in college where I learned that eskimos have hundreds of words describing snow. Presumably, this was a safety measure. If you were venturing out, you would know if the snow was slushy, dry and powdery, drifting, killer snow….whatever. This would give you information on whether to go out in it, how to dress, what provisions to take, how to rig the dog sled, etc. Here in the midwest the news centers basically over report snow, which is a mystery since we get some (predictably) every winter. In Ohio snow-casting has been known to cause runs on local groceries for such stables as milk, bread and Pepsi.
Pam said on January 15, 2004 at 8:00 pm
I meant to type STAPLES not horse homes, stables.
deb said on January 15, 2004 at 8:43 pm
in wisconsin, those panicky “weather alerts” cause runs at the grocery stores too — for bread, chips and beer. and maybe an extra bag of salt for the driveway, if there’s any money left over.
Melissa said on January 15, 2004 at 9:16 pm
Portland (OR) had FOUR SOLID DAYS of all-weather, all the time broadcasting. After completely muffing the forecast and getting caught with their snowpants down, the local TV stations were finally in their glory: perched on overpasses, sliding around in parking lots, peering like raccoons from deep within the enormous hoods of their jackets.
Most memorable moment: clueless reporter talking about the dangers of falling ice, while standing underneath a tree. His advice was nicely illustrated by an airborne chunk that glanced off his head.