Where all of our television and radio stations are chomping at the bit to boost their ratings by feeding us gloom and doom forecasts for Kansas City. It’s no secret that good news is generally brief and boring. Ah, but bad news – crises and disasters – that’s something you can talk about all day long. That’s how you get your ratings up so you can charge advertisers more.
Friday was a shining example of how powerful – and irresponsible – our weather people can be.
They told viewers and listeners all day and all night about a snow and/or ice storm and dangerous weather on its way to Kansas City.
But they were wrong. Dead wrong.
For those of us who closely follow weather reports at this time of year, we were well aware of the weekend report a few days earlier. It went like this, Friday possible light rain with a high of 40 degrees. Saturday would be a bit cooler with little or no precipitation. As it turned out, this was the correct forecast.
We’re all well aware that the last 30 days or so have been unseasonably bitter and cold at times. That in and of itself had already taken a bite out of evening activities like shopping and dining and entertainment venues had slowed accordingly.
And a big winter storm, the second in the last two weeks, was making it’s trip around the metro. It appeared the forecast of light rain and fairly mild temperatures was the correct forecast.
There was a chance of the temperatures dropping as the rain fell and it could turn to ice. There was even the slight possibility of light snow later in the evening, possibly an inch or two.
I was up early Friday to do radio and television, my usual routine on Friday mornings. I do five radio shows and one television show between 7 am and 11 am. I drive a small sports car that doesn’t do well in the snow.
I was also concerned that we had a big star at our comedy club – Louie Anderson – and that bad weather could damage attendance and seriously impact our weekend business.
Not just our business but hundreds of other restaurants, theaters and shopping centers would be affected.
Then the unthinkable happened.
The local media put on a full court press talking about ice storms and snow storms that were seemingly happening at that very moment. I was out driving and thought maybe I missed something. Looking out my window, it seemed to be about 40 degrees with little to no precipitation and certainly no snow or ice.
I complained at every station but the weather men told me they were closing highways like I-35 and I-70 because there were an increasing number of accidents and it would only get worse as the day progressed.
My favorite was one DJ saying that going out that night would be like taking your life into your hands and wherever you were between 8 and 9 PM was where you were spending the night because you wouldn’t be able to travel in the impending ice blizzard.
Bottom line, nothing happened.
I was out all morning. You could have driven 150 miles an hour on any major street and slammed on the brakes and you would have been just fine. The temperature hovered around 40 degrees most of the day, there was no snow and the streets were excellent.
All while I watched people cancel Christmas banquets, businesses shut down early, and business for Stanford’s and other nightclubs was anemic.
The responsibility of our news and weather departments is acute.
They do this all the time. I believe they knew at some point early on that the weather they feared was not going to materialize and yet pushed forward with their doom and gloom forecasts costing the city millions of dollars.
But really, not more than a few that should keep us homebound. Except for the cold temps, this winter has been very mild so far. For our news and weather people to shut down the city with overblown claims of bad weather was irresponsible.
Thousands of people count on that business to pay bills and even buy Christmas gifts. These men and women who reported those false weather issues truly are the Grinches Who Stole Christmas.
Shame on you guys, you knew better.