Watching Stephanie Abrams, Mike Bettes and Jim Cantore hyping the modest snowfall they’re calling Winter Storm Nemo this morning, I had a vision of a kinder, gentler and less hysterical weather channel, that didn’t try to exaggerate every minor weather event into a hundred year apocalypse for the sake of the ratings.
“This is going to be epic!” Stephanie gasps breathlessly, describing a blizzard -- while she stands on a busy street in a light drizzle. “This storm is HAMMERING the coast,” Jim will bark into the camera while screen banners boast unthinkable coastal destruction … and the calm sea lies snoozing behind him like a lazy old dog. What are you going to believe? Jim Cantore or your lying eyes?
Nemo means “No one” in Latin. How appropriate.
In my ideal world, things are a little different. You turn on The Real Weather Channel and you see the figure of beloved, if somewhat rumpled, meteorology professor Daniel Perino from MIT sitting on a park bench, and saying:
“Well, there’s some snow coming, maybe a foot at most. Where I grew up in Rawley, North Dakota, we wouldn’t even notice a dusting like that. All it’d mean was the old sidewalk competition. You know, whose Dad could keep the patch of pavement in front of their house dry and clear the quickest. They didn’t have snow blowers and they wouldn’t deign to use a shovel for a flurry like this. “Broom snow’ that’s what my grandmother called it. That explains our banner headline today: Broom Snow for Boston. I know some of the other folks on TV are making a big deal out of it. Maybe they grew up in the south. My wife grew up in New York City and used to laugh at her cousins in Atlanta when an inch of snow stopped the city in its tracks. We’d laugh at New Yorkers when a blizzard did the same. I guess there’s folks up in Alaska who get a giggle at our expense when the heating oil freezes in the tanks and we go on TV complaining about it. Sissies! Everything’s relative. First thing you learn here at MIT. Sorry – had to slip in a little particle physics joke there. So anyway. Yeah. There’ll be some snow, and you might lose power for a few hours if you’re stuck in the worst of it. Prepare for some shoveling and get the hot chocolate fixings ready. But don’t fret yourselves. Itr’s just weather. Naming a storm doesn’t make it a national disaster. It just annoys the Hurricanes. They feel slighted and I don’t blame em. I mean, what’s next? Summer Drizzle Irene? Fog Bank Freddie? Ridiculous. Summing up, some snow’s coming. Drive careful, turn into the skids, make some snow angels and have some fun. This is Dan Perino, for the Real Weather Channel, speaking from the MIT campus in Boston. Back to you, Carl.”
Sigh. Never going to happen. You don’t get ratings by telling the truth. Still, Dan would get the joke about calling this snow storm “Nemo” The Weather Channel people don’t, and they coined the name themselves.
I guess the joke’s on them.