Whither the Weatherman?

By Deane Barker on July 10, 2005

Is weather news and forecasting a commodity? Since the Internet has given us all easy access to the National Weather Service information, do we really need anything else?

My wife simply has to watch the local news report for the weather. Everything around our house stops about about 10:10 p.m. so Annie can turn on the local news.

Last night, when she interrupted “Mad TV” for this, I asked he if she had ever looked at weather news on the Internet. She hadn’t. So I took her to weather.com, entered our zip code, and showed her a 10-day forecast with nice little pictures. She was thrilled.

I mean, think about what your weatherman is doing. He talks a lot, but how much of that do you really need to know?

  • Do you care what the high temperatures were around the region? I don’t — I just want to know what they are in my immediate area. To be honest, I don’t really care what the temperature was, just tell me what it’s going to be.

  • Do you care about a “low pressure front” sweeping across the area? I don’t — just tell me the five-day forecast, because the only thing I care about is how the front is going to affect that forecast. Put another way, if I know it’s going to be 80-degrees tomorrow with a 40% chance of rain, do I really care why? No, not really.

It used to be that the local weather gave you access to information you couldn’t otherwise have. These guys that gave you the weather knew all the secrets. But now all the secrets are available to everyone, so are they adding value?

I hate writing this post because I don’t want to slam the local news. But is the weather portion of that newscast adding anything to what we already know?

The Internet has really leveled the playing field on access to information, weather news being a good example. And since the reach of the National Weather Service is, well, national, that’s pretty much the only place I go to find out what kind of day it’s going to be like tomorrow.



  1. during hurricane season they are very entertaining here in fl.

    Same here in South Dakota while tornados are on the ground (we tend to have at least one “Night of the Tornados” every summer when dozens seem to hit during the same evening).

  2. I praise the patron saint of the internets for online weather news – as a fellow Floridian, if I never have to hear about people “hunkering down” as a storm “slams ashore” while it “lashes” with “feeder bands” that are documented on camera “as conditions begin to deteriorate,” then it would be a perfect world.

  3. Deane, with all this weather stuff, why are you not covering the Ricco fire…http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2005/07/10/front/top/news01.txt

    On a wierd twist of weather, my parents are in FL (hurricane area) planning to attend the Keys on Tuesday while their house in Woodland Hills (Black Hawk SD) is the next evacuation area for this Type I fire.

    Amongst all of this, my mom called my brother and the only thing she wanted him to grab from the house…her boxes of pictures.

  4. Amen on the weatherman, man. As I mentioned a few months ago, all I’m after is what I should where and what I should do to my yard. Replace yard with field, and you’ve got the farming forecast.

    That does change during severe weather, of course, and I do have to say that our local guys are better prepared for that than anywhere else I’ve seen. Prepared to the point of being almost giddy when we do get rough weather.

  5. I think the most important part of this whole article was to find out that someone actually watches “Mad TV.” who knew?

  6. Depending on who provides the forecast information to your newscaster, they may have better information than you.

    I’m not sure why, but Accuweather.com is more accurate for my area than Weather.com ever was. Local TV weather is usually wrong unless they are using the Accuweather report. And since I’m an Accuweather Premium subscriber, I can get hourly forecasts (which are usually accurate to within an hour) that are more precise than even what I can get from TV.

    What really riles me is how TV news will withhold weather details until after their commercials, because they know it’s the only reason you watch their show.

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