|THE WEATHER CHANNEL:
TO LIKE OR NOT TO LIKE?
METEOROLOGIST JEFF HABY
Background information: THE WEATHER CHANNEL (TWC) is one of the cable and satellite channels that viewers
get. It is a weather resource used by millions of people.
Reasons that THE WEATHER CHANNEL is liked:
1. Viewers can count on getting local forecast information at the same time each hour.
2. The radar information is good. It is good being able to see radar data with the local forecast and good
to see the national and regional radars that are shown. Often this is the only channel available to
get radar information over the TV in some areas of the country.
3. During severe weather, hurricane and winter storm situations they will bring in experts to discuss
the situation. These experts are great at using the computer and weather data resources at their disposal.
4. The channel is available 24 hours a day whereas the local TV stations only have weather information
at specific times in a general weather situation.
5. They send reporters out into the field during big weather events. It is great to sees those guys
getting clobbered by blizzards and hurricanes. Their reporting brings a better perspective to the
weather situation. It is a resource to get visuals of storm damage and weather events.
6. Some of the TV weather people are simply irresistible to watch. This lady or that guy is sexy and/or very fun to
7. They have a decent website, http://www.weather.com/, to
go along with the TV channel. There are good charts to look at during tropical storm / hurricane approaches and
other severe weather events. There are many good basic maps.
8. The music played with the local forecast is often pleasing. They should sell a
CD of "weather channel music".
Reasons why THE WEATHER CHANNEL is not liked and reasons why TWC is
the way that it is:
1. While okay for the general public, the information is too basic to be of much use for someone
who is already a meteorologist or involved in forecasting. The National Weather Service, Storm Prediction
Center, Tropical Prediction Center, the Internet and other technical sources are more useful. This should
be no surprise though since TWC is interested in ratings and earning a profit. The vast majority of
people that watch TWC do not have meteorology degrees and are not meteorology students.
2. There are too many TV commercials. At some points the TV commercials seem to go on and on and never end. One
must also endure the ads on the website. This should be no surprise though since TWC is interested
in earning a profit. However, it surpasses many people's breaking point of the number of commercials
they will endure to keep watching the channel.
3. They have to cover too large of an area. Since they forecast for the whole country, mesoscale and local
effects get lost when the TV weather people are discussing the national maps. They will focus on viewers
in high populated areas and on areas that have the most viewers at a certain time. If you tune in from
a low populated region or when not many viewers are watching from your region of the country there
will not be as much useful local information from the on-air personality. This is a main reason people
still watch their local TV weather broadcasters on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, etc., instead of only TWC.
4. There are too many self promotions such as all those promotions for Storm Stories. These shows also
get in the way of seeing the national forecast information. Once again, this should be no surprise since
TWC is interested in ratings and earning a profit.
5. The local forecast pages sometimes mess up or do not run through correctly. It is annoying when
some observations have missing data and when the radar data is temporary unavailable.
6. The local forecast, although the music is great, is impersonal. It would be better if a person
was giving this information like the weather broadcasters do on local TV stations. This is
monetarily impractical to do though when you consider all the labor costs that would be involved
in doing that.
7. Often complaints are made that some statements made by the weather broadcasters are not meteorologically
accurate. Flubs are also pointed out. Most of these mistakes are minor and when someone talks a long time
they are bound to say something that will be "flubbish" or misinterpreted. It is
those with meteorology knowledge that catch many of these mistakes. The general public does not
catch most of them. Some are simply for comic relief.
The webpage below has some examples of the kinds of things people will point out:
Weather Channel Flubs