OKC’s weathermen divulge their approach to severe weather coverage
8:00 AM EDT on May 30, 2013
We have a lot of fun now and again with our local meteorologists, because the weather in Oklahoma is such a big deal and we're all aware of them from the time we're little kids, and yes, sometimes their coverage can be a little over-the-top. But when the chips are down and there is a truly devastating event taking place, like last week's tornado, they really do play an incredibly important role in saving people's lives.
One of my lasting memories of May 20th is Damon Lane realizing and acknowledging on-air that his house was likely gone, and then with an insane amount of poise and professionalism, continuing to advise, caution, and instruct his viewers about what was happening. It was genuinely nothing less than heroic work. Whatever doubts about him any of us had after Rick Mitchell left are gone now for good.
As part of their ongoing coverage of the tornado, The Oklahoman interviewed the three lead meteorologists about their approach to tornado coverage in general and last Monday specifically.
Here's a representative sample of what they had to say. Well, almost all of them. The Oklahoman left out KOKH Fox 25. They have a weather department, too. Allegedly.
Let's play "Which one of these is not like the others?"
“It’s just a flood of information coming in. For me, I just have to concentrate. The storm trackers, they do a big service. With our MOAR (radar) in front of the station, we can track it street by street. At times, when I’m getting ready to go ahead and pick out streets, I have to shut it off in my mind. I have to mentally click off all the other noise.”
“I look back now and it feels like it was all just a blur. It all seemed to come and go so fast. I was watching the tornado go across the streets and I heard from people at the TV station that usually when there are tornadoes going through, there is a lot of commotion going on, everyone is trying to work hard to get a picture up. But what Paul (Folger) and Jess (Schambach), the anchors, said, it was dead silence. It was like you were in your zone, and no one could have done anything to get you out of it.”
If you’re calm, then the people watching you will stay calm,” he said. “You certainly don’t want to be flipping out or freaking out.
And, now, finally, Mike Morgan:
“Just because there’s not a cloud doesn’t mean I’m relaxed — I’m not,” Morgan said. “I’m a basket case and I’m a basket case for days ahead of time. I don’t think I’m ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). I would argue I’m definitely post-traumatic stress. I try to really regulate where I am these days at the age of 49. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I have been a basket case many, many times in this state because I see these things coming. I can see the future, I can.”
"I'm a basket case."
"I'm definitely post-traumatic stress."
"I can see the future, I can."
In the real world, if a man wearing a bedazzled tie utters those three sentences to you, it's probably time to run like hell. In the world of Oklahoma meteorologists, however... well, you still might want to run away, but at least you'll know if it's gonna be sunny outside. I mean, the people at the Discovery Channel think Reed Timmer was good tv? If they want a real reality tv star, they've got the wrong Channel 4 personality.
Actually, that would be kind of fun. I'd probably tune in every now and then to watch TLC's The Morgans. Marla would probably steal the show. Hell, give all the weatherman a reality program and call it the The Real Weatherwives of Oklahoma City.