August 20, 2014

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What's a "Torcon", or what is the Weather Channel doing?

Why does "The Weather Channel" make up names and why don't the rest of us fall in step with them?

This is my own private blog, not a news story, and no one's opinion except for mine, on my blog.

It's a topic that comes up frequently at public gatherings.

"What's a 'Torcon' and why does the Weather Channel use it all the time?

I hear the question almost as much as I've been hearing "Why don't you refer to the winter storms by name like they do on the Weather Channel?"

Let's back up a bit.  According to legend, the first named storms were cyclones and hurricanes that a lone weather observer in the south pacific named after particularly nasty girlfriends and women in his life.

It was a bit of local color that caught on in weather circles.  After all, each storm has a different feel or characteristic to it.  And when you're talking about ...'that hurricane that blew through here years ago...you know the one...'  it only makes sense to give them identifiable names.

So, the first hurricanes were given female names, and after a particularly bad storm, that name was retired.

After all, when we say "Hurricane Sandy", we don't want to confuse this year's storm, with the one from 20 plus years ago.  When we talk about Hurricane Andrew, we all know when and where the strike zone was.

After several decades of this, somebody decided to get all "P.C." and start alternating male and female names, and eventually, multicultural as well.  The list of names is selected by the international science academy, (or somebody who makes the list up for each oceanic basin) each year.  Rarely do we run through the entire alphabet, but it can happen. Those names that are not retired are recycled into the available pot of names.

So, when the Weather Channel decides they are going to start naming winter storms, and plasters that name all over their banners, copy, and discussions, just what is going on?

In my view, the tail is attempting to wag the dog.  The Weather Channel is attempting to brand themselves as "the Authority" in all things weather...and so, they've unilaterally started naming winter storms across the U.S.

Is it official? No.  Does it matter? No.  Will it catch on?  I hope not.

They've done this before... inventing the term "TorCon"...or deciding to publicize the probability of a tornado occurring with their own 1 to 10 scale picked for major cities and locales.  I think this has backfired a little on them, as people are now looking for the TorCon value for their area, and if they don't hear one, they assume that all is safe outside.  Hardly.

Now they have a new term, "StormCon" which is the confidence that they have that a storm will develop or hit an area.

What's going on is that the Weather Channel is trying to develop their own terms, names, and weather products, hoping that it will make them unique and memorable to the viewing public.

But I can't tell you how many times I've been introduced as "that guy who works on the Weather Channel", or "Roger", "Todd", "Jim", or "John"... (just to name a recent few male talent that have worked at our station.)  Many people can't tell us apart off the air...

And recently, an angry letter writer insisted that I'd been here long enough that I should know how to pronounce local names. It didn't matter how many times I told him he had me confused with someone else...he was certain that it was me, and that he had seen me on another cable TV channel doing the morning news... a shift that I have not done for more than a dozen years... and certainly NOT ON ANOTHER CABLE CHANNEL...  But he wouldn't listen to reason. He was sure, and nobody was going to change his mind...never mind the facts of the matter.

So, the public's memory and attention span is fickle.

So the next time you hear about Winter Storm "Edward" or the "Torcon", just remember, that's them...they're not local.  We are.  And we'll tell you about local conditions as we know them.

That's what a local broadcast station is all about.

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
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