Things That Tick Me Off: Irene’s Hurricane Coverage in Washington

My brother sent me this mocking picture making the rounds on the Internet. I thought it was àpropos in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. The coverage in Washington of the hurricane-that-wasn’t has been absolutely bizarre. It is good to see that this city does not just panic with an inch of snow. We panic with any weather above a flurry or a misting. Folks in parts of North Carolina and other coastal areas have had legitimate concerns (including New York, Vermont and other areas) and Irene’s flooding and power outages were expected to take quite a toll in those hardest hit areas. However, the D.C. coverage was comically ridiculous. I watched one story of how Irene had began “its trail of misery and destruction” toward Washington. General Sherman’s March To the Sea had less dire reviews. I am only talking about Northern Virginia and Washington where the coverage continued in sharp contrast with the actual forecasted weather for our area.

I have been admittedly snarky of the coverage for days, particularly the last 24-hours when the hurricane was a Cat-1 hitting hundreds of miles away. Having lived through pretty big hurricanes in Louisiana, I have a respect for the storms but there was never any predictions of serious rain in my area. For days, I have been checking the various weather sites only to find predictions of two inches of rain and strong winds on Saturday night (with clearing on Sunday). I would then turn on the television or go on the Internet and find live, round-the-clock, breathless coverage of the “misery” and “destruction” coming to Washington. At no time did the forecast predict anything more than roughly a couple inches of rain and high winds. There was clearly a chance for power outages due to the soaked soil and winds, but the coverage in this area was positively apocalyptic.

In addition to ratings, the hysteria did produce record sales at stores as people prepared for the apocalypse with bodies stacked like firewood in the streets.

Everything closed despite the fact that only two inches of rain and some strong winds were predicted. This morning, the coverage continues with reporters showing the same pictures of a couple of trees down to fill time. The rest of the coverage is largely “things that did not happen” stories. My favorite this morning on Channel 4 (NBC) was how in Alexandria the harbor man thought that people who tied up their boats for high tide might have to come back and tie the boats for lower tide. The reporter then went to show how the water has not risen and how high water could have been a problem in causing flooding — if there was high water. As predicted in the actual forecasts for days before the hurricane (as opposed to the news coverage), we had some trees down, some power outages, and rain. Various forecasters (here and here) objected to the overblown claims in places like Washington before the storm hit.

I was not alone in feeling a significant loss of credibility for our local media in the hype leading to the storm — which seemed overtly disconnected to the actual predictions of rain and wind. Of course, at the coast, there were some curious moments such as the reporter who gave a live account while covered in what appears toxic foam.

We decided not to join the apocalyptic preparations and instead invited a couple of the friends of the kids over for a hurricane party and sleepover. Our power went off for exactly twenty seconds, but we had a grand time and watched “Cats v. Dogs” while devouring bags of popcorn. The overkill coverage will only make it more difficult for media and the government to get people to believe them next time when there is a serious threat, in my view.

Of course, most everything is still closed today as we clean up the carnage of blown leaves and soggy lawns in our area. In your view, was Irene overblown?

163 thoughts on “Things That Tick Me Off: Irene’s Hurricane Coverage in Washington”

  1. Someone should calculate the typical net worth of FEMA’s flood insurance recipients. The program is nothing more than a handout to the most affluent in our society, subsidizing extravagant oceanfront properties and creating economic incentives for continued commercial development in flood plains:

  2. Pete lol at creative example of hurricane force winds. There is nothing more beautiful than the roiling ocean waves just prior to a good hurricane. I look and say how magnificent then get in my car and run away.

  3. bdaman

    i was checking on katia earlier and noticed the one in the gulf. they can pop up quick there. i expect there are some people in texas that wouldn’t mind a wet tropical storm or a cat. 1.

    when i first moved to the daytona area back in the 80’s a friend ask what i was going to do (there was a hurricane coming in). i lived on beachside and said it was only barely a hurricane (cat1) so i wasn’t worried. they suggested i get into the back of a truck while going down I 95 and try holding up a sheet of plywood.

    i took the hint and found somewhere else to be when the hurricane hit.

  4. Thanks Roco, It has gained alot of attention.

    I’m now linked up at Mrsurfs,com Panama City, Fluid Surf Shop Ft.Walton Beach South Florida and my base at 911

  5. National Hurricane Center has increased the odds on the system we are watching in the GOMEX. From 10% chance this morning to 30% as of the 2:00 p.m. update

    Now at 60% for the 8 p.m. update

  6. Thanks O.S.

    National Hurricane Center has increased the odds on the system we are watching in the GOMEX. From 10% chance this morning to 30% as of the 2:00 p.m. update

  7. Thanks, Bdaman. Stay safe. It is hard to predict the path this far out, but the computer models are still reason for concern and serious preparedness. As Jo comments above, these things are not to be trifled with. I am old enough to remember Camille on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Up until Katrina hit, there were still reminders of that storm in the form of damaged buildings and broken off trees that had never been repaired or cut down. After Katrina, there was little left of the Mississippi coast south of Interstate 10.

  8. I submitted this once and It didn’t show up. So if it does sorry for the duplication.

    Bdaman Said

    Just because it didn’t happen in D.C, means YOU WERE LUCKY.
    Others not so much.
    Don’t worry before the seasons over I’m positive your gonna get a second chance and this time you might not be.

    Here comes your second chance. The overnight run of the GFS showing possible Hurricane Lee in the North Central GOMEX by Sunday. GFS moves what could be Hurricane Lee east over NE Florida and then up the East Coast just like Irene. You can watch as this develops on my forecast page. I have full confidence in the GFS at the moment based on the rest of the data I see.

    Stay Tuned

  9. NoWay:

    I think you were quite clear in your responses.


    Logical Larry

    Ps why is it that people always seem to think logic consists of proving a false premise?

  10. LMAO at media hype. I lived most of my life on Topsail Island, NC but have retired away from the beach in a small rural community about 70 miles by road from ocean but 40 as the hurricane flies. During my life when even a small hurricane comes we would head to the old family homestead about 8 miles further west from here. It has ALWAYS been my experience that the media focuses on the beach at the expected point of landfall and Raleigh, as if nothing occurs between the ocean and the capital city. In this storm which not the strongest was certainly the longest sustained .( I had storm conditions for almost 24 hrs going from mild to very hurricaney) Another thing the national media does is pretend that only at eye landfall does it start to matter. Anyone familiar with hurricanes knows that you get the worst of it before the eye hits and that the remaining storm post eyefall is easier. Now if the local and national media only focus on the beaches and Raleigh then Va must only be concerned with Norfolk and DC. I rarely listen to local coverage due to the sensational aspect of the reporters. I mean, really, they hire a bevy of cutsey girls and hunkey men to stand in the oncomming winds being lashed with rain and standing at odd angles. I prefer my reports from noaa. But once you have picked your location and the storm is on you the reports are meaningless. Just pick a safe brick or sturdy frame house in a room that wont be hit by falling oak trees ( Hurricane Fran took out 8 on the old homestead) And for Petes sake LEAVE the beach. Even a mild Cat 1 can be devastating on a barrier island. Also mobile homes are never safe in a hurricane. And as for surfing just prior to a storm, These people should not pass on their DNA

  11. “I am with Gyges here. I am done.”

    You’ve been done!

    As Dr. Laurence Peter said, “Against logic there is no armor like ignorance.”

    You were it well.

  12. @Gyges

    Isn’t it funny how those who need to take something out of context always find a way to do it?

    If someone said “Governors don’t want to be responsible for the National Guard”, and some asked “Who?” you would likely think they weren’t asking who the Governors were that didn’t want the responsibility.

    “I only talk to people who I can trust that what they say is what they mean.”

    Go put some Rhymes to music. You certainly don’t have a flair for adult conversation.

  13. I am with Gyges here. I am done. As Dr. Laurence Peter said, “Against logic there is no armor like ignorance.”

  14. @OS

    “the DKos story is certainly credible”

    Then let’s change the teachers salary to $18K and her deductable to $500. Show me how that story would be any less credible.

    “am used to what I say being taken out of context and spun to make a point diametrically opposite to what I actually said or intended”

    I certainly did not take anything you said out of context. Where you commenting on how Gyges took my question out of context?

  15. Noway,

    Actually, I assumed that since you seem to have a pretty good command of the English language, that if you had meant to ask about which corporatist criminal who funds the right-wing wanted to defund the NOAA, you would have included something about them in your comment.

    However, since you either don’t say what you mean, or lie about what you meant later on, I’m done. I only talk to people who I can trust that what they say is what they mean.

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