Thursday, September 25, 2008

Weather or Not

by Jenny Gardiner

Right around this time a couple of years ago, we found ourselves bracing for the onslaught of Hurricane Isabel, a storm that wreaked a punishing havoc throughout our region, an area not known for hurricane vulnerability. For days preceding the hurricane, in my household we held vigil over the Weather Channel, trying to glean some nugget of information that would give us an edge over the storm, provide us with that comforting element of assurance that would carry us through the worst of it. Or at least offer up some entertainment while waiting for the roof to blow off the house.

Over the past several weeks, we’ve again seen these tropical tempests dominating the headlines. And we all know that when bad weather approaches, anyone with cable or a satellite dish turns to the Weather Channel for guidance, in much the same way that we tend to gawk as we drive by a car accident along the highway.

What did we do before there was the Weather Channel? Does anybody remember those dark prehistoric days, when our only chance to find out what great weather disaster was soon to befall us was to tune into the local nightly news? Where some helmet-haired news anchor-wannabe in an ill-fitting polyester suit served his penance before the blue screen, spewing out weather forecasts he probably barely understood himself?
I remember those days, but only vaguely. Long before we could sit down with a glass of wine, tuned--at least until the power would go out--to Jim Cantore, Bill Keneely, Marshall Seese, or whatever Storm Expert of the hour is on, and a handful of interchangeably perky women in conservative suits coaxing us through our anxiety, as the storm thrashes our rooftops and the winds batter the surrounding trees.

I remember those days, before we got to laugh as Bill, and the other strapping young weather hotties, would entertain us by being blown hither and yon like dry leaves on a blustery late autumn afternoon, their signature Weather Channel rain gear inflated by hurricane-force winds to make them appear as if they too, would soon be swept skyward, along with the flying debris which they so successfully dodge.

One wonders if our weather stud muffins have low-level staffers or interns, relegated outside the camera shot to safeguard the handsome meteorologists, ready to absorb the blow from the roof shingles, the street signs, the heavy branches being flung through the air so randomly. Is there a hierarchy of saveability for these Weather Channel field operatives? Who is more expendable in a deadly storm? Do they have better life insurance than the rest of us?

I appreciate the Weather Channels’ ability to induce laughter in an otherwise somber occasion, as the reporters’ microphones are swept from their clutches when a sudden 135-mile per hour wind gust swoops down. As rain pummels their faces, the ladies’ mascara obviously waterproof. The willowy female meteorologist, poised beside a two-ton potted palm that has just been blown over by the gale-force winds, as she stands there in the driving rain in her chase-me beat-me pumps. Pumps! In a hurricane? Somebody get the woman a pair of L.L. Bean waders, please!

The Weather Channel has taught me to have strength under duress. That I, too, can withstand the torrent of nature, if only I have a trademark blue water proof jacket, a pretty good television face, and a sense of humor in the face of disaster.

Sometimes people reflect wistfully on days gone by, on how much better things used to be. But I for one never want to be without my beloved Weather Channel when disaster strikes. Yeah, it may be a little macabre to be kicking back on my living room sofa while I watch peoples’ worldly possessions soar past the camera’s lens as the storm takes hold. But in these days of reality TV in which we all share bizarre intimate details of others’ lives, the Weather Channel’s 24/7 coverage of weather disasters is reality TV at it’s finest.


Eudae-mamia said...

Ah Hurricane Isabel - the reason my father missed the birth of his first grandchild. Six years ago today, my parents were closing on their dream retirement home on the panhandle of Florida. I think they had some second thoughts that day. But they have weathered Bonnie, Dennis, Ivan - lucky evacuees to be able to come home to unpack instead of salvage.

We have dear friends who have (had) a marina in the small fishing village of San Leon - ground zero for Hurricane Ike. We called to check on them, and their son summed it up in a few words - "It's never good when Jim Cantore shows up on your front lawn."

Long live the Weather Channel, with all its studs and beauty queens - Lord only knows how many lives have their forecasts saved.

Come on November 30th!!


Sleeping with Ward Cleaver said...

Holy cow--he showed up in their yard? They must've taken quite a hit!
I'm sorry your father missed that! I bet he was too, though glad to be safe from the storm...

Daisy said...

weather stud muffins --LOL!