Monday, September 18, 2006

A Mighty Wind: Blowin' You and Me

Saturday evening's severe weather outbreak, which featured a tornado touching down at 180th and Harrison, gave Omaha's three serious TV stations the opportunity to put all their personnel and gadgetry to work, and what a show it was.

KETV found itself in the unenviable position of having to alert viewers to the storm dangers while simultaneously broadcasting the Nebraska-USC football game. Except for one brief spell, Channel 7 split its screen, giving roughly half to the game and the other half (and the audio) to meteorologist John Campbell, who was later joined by Chief Weatherguesser Bill Randby. While many insane Husker fans probably resented the intrusion into the game, KETV would have been negligent to ignore a tornado warning; on the whole, they did the best they could.

Over at Channel 3, chief meteorologist Ryan McPike was in the studio with trusty sidekick Charles "C.T." Thongklin. Unfettered by rabid Husker devotees, McPike and Company were able to use the whole screen and their extensive collection of tech tools to keep viewers apprised of the latest developments.

WOWT, too, had the full screen at its disposal with Jeff Jensen and Michael Born providing coverage from the studio, while chief Jim Flowers raced around in his car and reported via cell phone. Flowers offered little that couldn't be picked up on radar or spotted on the "city cam" mounted atop the First National Bank building downtown.

So while the chief meteorologists on two stations covered developments from the studio, where they could access the tools they claim are so vital to their work, Hysterical Jim was out tearing around in an SUV, relegated to describing "a pouch" dipping out of the clouds—one that was clearly visible on the aforementioned "city cam."

So, to recap: what does Precision-Doppler-6000-Weather-Where-You-Live-to-the-Power-of-6 offer that you can't get elsewhere? Hysteria and hype.

17 comments:

Photog said...

At least on KETV's HD broadcast they kept the game audio on the left channel and the studio weather audio on the right while they were in double box. I just messed with my receiver and faded the weather audio down. Very good job in weather and MC.

Photog

rivercity_jack said...

It makes me sick that a g**damn football game is more important than impending severe weather or tornados. KETV should have just broke in full screen. I'm embarrassed to be a Husker fan right now. They probably did this because of what happened over at KPTM last year when Dean Wysocki broke in to American Idol and just pissed off the viewers. WTF is wrong with the American public?

rivercity_jack said...

Did you ever notice that John Campbell (while I'm sure he's a nice guy) is a wannabe Randby? He channels Randby's mannerisms and speech patterns it seems. Just imagin Jeff Jensen trying to imitate Jim Flowers persona. EEK!!

joeygrisgris said...

Don't you just know the folks at Channel 7 were thinking "Dean Wysocki" debacle from a few years back as soon they went to a split screen. Would be interesting how many Huskerbozo's went ahead and bitched anyway.

Husker Mike said...

Channel 7 also needs to serve areas outside of the Omaha area. A tornado is life threatening, and channel 7 apparantly did the appropriate job and made sure the weather coverage was front and center.

Finding a way to accomodate the Husker fans not in danger was a great way to meet the needs of everyone in the viewing area.

MG73 said...

I was watching the KETV split screen coverage and it was kind of pointless. Both screens were too small to give an indication of what was going on. Especially with John Campbell pointing with his pen and zooming on Chalco Hills. I couldn't see anything. So I just assumed they'd start screaming if they saw a hook echo coming our way.

I can only imagine the unholy hell that was unleashed upon KETV for daring to put the game in split-screen mode. But it serves them right for all the times they interrupted Judge Judy for 45 minutes with a severe thunderstorm in Modale, Iowa. Sometimes, at the very moment Judge Judy was shrieking, "I'M SPEAKING!"

joeygrisgris said...

Wait....breaking news....NASA has delayed the landing of the current shuttle due to a mysterious object floating next to it in space. I think we should send the "I team" to investigate. Back to you, Fubar,

Jeff Jensen said...

The tornado touchdown was confirmed by the NWS at 204th & Giles in Sarpy County NOT at 180th Street. That was an incorrect report from a firehouse.
The tornado warning was issued just after Jim Flowers' report of a wall cloud in that location was relayed to Nat Weather. Ground truth can be invaluable during nighttime events.

rickoxo2 said...

I thought channel 7 did a fine job on the game/weather fiasco. Hyper Jim from Channel Sux should just quit. Does he think it will be better if he is out looking at the tornado? What does this idiot hope to do? Plus, he is sofa king dumb, he was driving from 180th and C south to 180th and Harrison, with the stormado tracking north. Hello? Am I the only one who paid attention when they told us that tornados move from the south-southwest to north-northeast? SO, Hyper Jim was driving right into it? Why not going west to 192nd and reporting in the wake?

Whatever.

Jeff Jensen said...

Jim was located at Sapp Bros. when he FOLLOWED the wall cloud up Hwy 6, just north of Gretna. His report to the NWS, via us at the station, prompted them to issue the warning. I think you should now be able to understand the value of him being out that night.
I sure appreciated it.

photofarm said...

Jeff Jensen,

I just went to the NWS website, and they say the tornado was reported at 180th and Harrison. No other information was available for that tornado.

The interesting story is the F2 tornado and straight line winds in Butler County the night before. More damage was caused by hail and straight line winds rather than the tornado. http://www.crh.noaa.gov/oax/ is the link to the main page of the NWS for Omaha/Valley

Jeff Jensen said...

Well, I personally called Valley Sunday & spoke with 2 mets who told me that one just returned from a damage survey & marked a "brief touchdown" at 204th & Giles in a corn field. They found NO tornadic damage at 180th & Harrison that they mentioned to me. Don't know why they haven't posted that survey as of today?? I'm sure, that in the next few days, they'll put up a detailed report on the F0 that they relayed to me. Keep checking their web site if you're so inclined.
As to the Butler Co. damage, another great example of why a thunderstorm warning should be respected. The wind & hail caused the majority of the damage. Glad no one was seriously hurt in either storm!

Joe Swank said...

I will have to say that I commend Jim Flowers for staying out of the studio. I joked to my wife when Randby came on that it was like "out of my way Cambell - you dont know what your doing so I better get on camera" Flowers at leasts trusts his crew. As much as I am not a Flowers fan he didnt try to be a camera hog like Randby and McPike. I am sure that McPike did a great job for the 25 people watching the Florida - Tennessee game.

IncognitoAsTheyCome said...

You forgot to add that the tornado was probably "rain wrapped" Flowers thinks that ALL tornadoes are rain wrapped.

Obbop said...

Do the local guessers of weather possess "tornado envy" towards Oklahoma since that state has so many more of those whirling dervishes?

That envy may affect the burbling and blathering as the blokes bend over their super duper whoppler doppler devices.

rickoxo2 said...

Good point Joe Swank.

Flowers did trust his staff enough to stay out of the studio.

I'm also glad I'm not the only one who heard there was a touchdown on 180th and Harrison.

joeygrisgris said...

How appropriate that porn star/weatherman Dick Flowers was on case. After all, tornados are natures perfect example of going from blow to suck and back again.

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