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Irene Mistaken for Being Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse

When the sky fell last weekend, our television anchors were there to instill us with the fear of Death itself.

Now that Hurricane Irene is history, hopefully your power is back on and you've pumped that last little bit of water from your cellar. Plus, you've disassembled that ark you built, and returned to the neighbors those various animals you were going to use to populate it. I know that things were probably rough in your home last week. And even worse if you were housing fowls of the air.

But maybe the worst part of the weather was the forecast. Sure, the hurricane whipped across the country with as much focus, subtlety and intelligence as Michelle Bachmann. She knocked down trees, caused floods and cancelled sporting events. But the way the country's weathermen talked about this tropical storm, you'd think we were looking at the "End of Days." That, after the flood, came famine, looting and then true horror: that's right, the Stop 'N' Shop saying they were out of Totino's Pizza Rolls.

Still,  in most cases, the reports were more frightening than the actual storm.

I went back-and-forth between local forecasters and these two crazy clucks on The Weather Channel and they all acted pretty unprofessionally. I mean, is a weatherman really supposed to stand on his desk and yell, 'The sky is falling'? People might get the wrong idea, you know?

Now, when I was boy, years before cable and this horrible competition between stations (otherwise known as "The War Between The Five Families") weather forecasters use to try and calm you down during a storm. They'd show you a map, tell you what was happening in a soothing voice and give you hope, that, after some rain and power outages, things would eventually be okay.

Not anymore. Now these men and women treat the rambling, unfocused narrative that is a hurricane, like a scripted feature film. And in Irene's case? It was like they were talking about "The Blair Witch Project."

Even when they broke for commercials, these unhinged wack jobs couldn't bear to let you go without treating the whole weather story like a cliffhanger. 'Don't go anywhere,' they'd imply. 'Because, after the break, in the next scene? Everybody dies!'

Then, of course, there were the Scenes of Devastation.

You couldn't turn on one station without seeing someone clinging to a tree or standing on the roof of their barn holding a prize calf. But half the time, you'd look at the screen and realize it was a 'file clip' from some entirely different storm from years gone by. You know you've been had when you see someone in one of those films holding a newspaper. And a close-up of the headline reads, "Lindbergh Lands Safely In Paris!"

Another insidiously-creepy aspect of the past week's weather reporting, was how the broadcasters kept ascribing motive and intellect to Irene. As if she'd planned the sort of horrors she was wreaking on us. Once again, insert whatever Michelle Bachmann jokes you have, here.

All I can tell you is weather does what it does and goes where it will. It has no grand design. But according to the weather dudes, she was "taking aim," at certain cities. She was "intent" on disrupting particular games, concerts and activities. And what a vicious she-devil she was. However, I think she was also "responsible" for halting at least two concerts by Josh Groban. So, Irene was not completely heartless.

I haven't even told you about those two hysterics on The Weather Channel, two Gen X Types, who wore white shirts and ties, dropped all pretense of their generation's ironic tendencies , showed clips of flood devastation from 1911 and told us, in no uncertain terms, that we should get our affairs in order. I haven't despised a duo this much since the heyday of Loggins and Messina.

Then, finally, a little decency and common sense came into our lives.

On The CW, veteran weatherman, Mr. G., gave me hope that a man with experience, a guy who didn't treat the weather like a disaster film he was producing, could calm everyone down and bring the whole dang storm into perspective.

On-and-off throughout Saturday night and Sunday morning, there was Mr. G., possessing both his confident smile and actual knowledge of the weather, talking us down, like we were acid casualties in the 'Bummer Tent' at Woodstock and he knew just how to bring us back to earth. Mr. G. told us how long the hurricane would last, what we could expect in the way of delays in New York City, and, most importantly, when the sun would begin to shine again.

I don't know if he then sang a Pete Seeger song right after this. I was too busy crying happy tears to notice.

Now, I know, that the truth is necessary. Especially, during a storm like Hurricane Irene. I mean, if there's water sweeping your way, you need to know when you should be evacuating voluntarily. There's nothing worse than an involuntary evacuation. The kind where, one minute you're ironing your pants, and the next, you're body surfing in a riptide off of Pago Pago.

But, for those who need it, there's plenty of truth on TV these days. Even if it comes in the form of these television Cassandras, who tell us the stock market is crashing, unemployment is up and ever more frightening stuff is on its way. Right, like they've just started principal photography on "The Hangover 3."

Luckily, every once in a while, we have someone who can see past the fear and the worst case scenario. Someone who can simply tell you, that no matter what happens, eventually, everything is going to be alright. I may be getting soft in my old age, but I still like to hear someone state those sentiments. So, Mr. G., thanks for calming me down. Now, if only you could do something about Josh Groban and his reign of terror? But, one thing at a time. Right?

Elyse September 09, 2011 at 02:22 PM
One of the most annoying things about hurricanes/huge storms coming is the now obligatory let's-stick-weatherperson-in-raging-surf shots. Or to be blown over the wind. Come on guys, when Al Rokkor got knocked off his feet, he set the gold standard. Watching news people stand in raging surf, high winds only makes me think - I guess it's do this or lose the job. There's no need to jeopardize people. In 99.9% of these videos, it's also men who do it. I'm sure the women go "are you nuts?" and refuse to risk their lives for a few minutes air time. Unfortunately all the weather people/news tend to ramp up the end of the world forecasts. It brings in ratings. When it comes to hurricanes, there's only one thing you really need to do: prepare ahead of time. Get your bottled water, dry food, fill the tubs, etc. and also make sure your insurance covers storm damage, and hope to heck you're not in a flood plain. But back to the topic... there is a way to top Al Rokkor's feat. Simply tie a weather person to a bungee cord and put him out in horrific winds, so we can watch him blow away, then snap back. Somehow, it woudln't surprise me if someone did do that! ;)
Mary September 09, 2011 at 06:20 PM
Can you sing like Josh? Do you look like Josh? Nuff said.
Karen September 09, 2011 at 09:58 PM
Yeah, quit picking on Josh you mean slosh. Irene was heartless because most of Josh Groban's songs are songs of the heart you fartbox!

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