Hail, Rainbows and Weather Dongs: Breaking down yesterday’s severe weather coverage
3:27 PM EDT on March 26, 2015
I guess you can say yesterday's weather forecast lived up to its billing...
After a few days of hype, the 2015 Severe Weather season rolled into Oklahoma yesterday evening, packing with it a powerful punch of strong winds, large hail, and tornadoes. Here's a pic of a Tulsa-area twister that took one life near Sand Springs.
In the metro, Moore was the target of Mother Nature's fury... again. Following a similar path to the deadly May 20th tornadoes, they caused damage, a few serious injuries and made us all ask "Why is Moore always in the path of these damn storms?!"
That's actually a legit question. It's one I first asked when a 2003 Moore tornado missed my house by only about six blocks. What the hell is going on there? Is there some sort of atmospheric condition above Pickle's that spawns tornadoes? Are the weather gods also annoyed by Toby Keith's music? Can some meteorologist who doesn't dabble as a spray tanned bodybuilder answer these questions in the comments?
With all that, we also marked the beginning the 2015 Severe Weather Coverage Season. We previewed it yesterday. Some of our questions were answered (it appears Mike has officially retired the bedazzled tie), while others are still mysteries (what is Channel 9 going to do with the new girl).
Overall, the coverage didn't disappoint. After knocking off some winter weather rust, the local severe weather teams were in mid-spring form. Chief Meteorologists were declaring their own tornado warnings, storm chasers were inventing new words to describe tornados, and social media bandits clogged your timelines with boring pic of hail after boring pic of hail. It was a spring treat.
Like every Oklahoman, I flipped through the channels and scrolled through social media looking for the best radar updates, live shots and RTs. Since this is what my obviously sad, depressing life has come to, I thought I would give some off-the-cuff, highly unscientific grades:
KWTV News 9: C
You could tell David Payne was a bit slow with his clicker. He was visibly irritated by the positioning of some of his stormchasers and he lacked chemistry with whoever controlled his radar. And when the tornado was about to touch down in Moore, he seemed more concerned with high winds near the Fairgrounds. He was also victimized by a couple of amazing weather dongs:
Last year we had a Severe Weather Dong contest and had the quietest spring since 1963, the year Gary England called a truce with Lord Thundertron during the Robber's Cave Peace Accords. This year we don't have a weather dong contest and we get some first ballot hall of famers. Hell, even Lord England threw us a bone!
News 9's weather coverage wasn't all weather dongs and visible frustration. They eventually did capture some live chopper footage of the Moore tornado. Plus, their second-string storm chaser Hank Brown got trapped in a small "Gustnado" west of OKC.
KOCO Channel 5: C
I started my severe weather viewing with Damon Lane over at Channel 5. Damon's a cool dude. He's by far the calmest, least apocalyptic and most down to earth of the three Weather Lord Commanders. Normally that's a good thing, but it can sometimes backfire. He almost seemed to be underestimating the power of the storms. For example:
Technically, Damon Lane was right. The tornadoes did develop and they were short-lived, but even a brief one will send you and Toto to Kansas if you drive into it. It's probably not the message you want to get out there.
Out of the big three channels, I probably watched Channel 5 the least. They were having some audio problems with Bob's Appliance Repair Sky News 5. Plus, I'm not a big fan of their radar, which is probably the most Oklahoma thing I've ever written in my life.
"Them sirens are going off. Whadya think do we should do."
"Let me go in yonder and put it on Channel 5!"
"Wait a second. I don't like their radar!"
KFOR Newschannel 4: A
It's easy to criticize Mike Morgan. They guy hypes weather, creates panic and seems oblivious to it all, but let's give credit where it's due. He nailed it last night. When storms were forming to the southwest of the metro, Mike focused on a small area of circulation, warning that it could turn into a tornado if it got a couple of more cycles in it or something like that. Meanwhile, the other channels appeared to be downplaying the tornado risk. Now, I was drinking beer, tweeting and flipping through the channels, but I'm pretty sure the area Mike warned us about is what spawned the Moore twisters.
But I get it. Giving Mike Morgan credit for calling a tornado would be like giving Dion Waiters props for making a fade away 21-foot jump shot. Mike hypes every storm, but he hyped this one and he was right.
His prediction also helped Bob Moore Chopper 4 get some of the best footage of the storm. It was chilling to watch the tornado slice through Moore, creating a fireworks display of popped transformers as it approached the highway. It was like watching a disaster movie. You wanted to yell at the screen "What are you idiots doing driving in this?! Why are you driving south!!!"
And to top off the coverage, Mike was also victimized by a Bob Moore weather dong:
KOKH Fox 25: S (Satisfactory)
Here's the deal. It's not really fair to compare Channel 25 to the other three stations when it comes to the weather, so they get a "Satisfactory" for trying. My favorite part of their coverage – Yes, I watched it for about four minutes – was that they sent their investigative reporter Phil Cross out as a stormchaser. I think they tricked him into thinking the storm was a corrupt politician or contractor who ripped off an elderly couple. He probably wanted surprise it with an open records request.
With the grades out-of-the-way, let's look at some of the night's winner and losers:
Losers: Hail Photos
Can we all agree that weather photos are some of the worst things ever? NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOUR HAIL. We've seen it before. Please STOP!
That being said, TLO Twitter followers shared some good pics of hail:
By the way, don't you think hail would be a lot more fun if we measured it using cup sizes?
"Now lets go to Val Caster. He's near Watonga!"
"Hey David, we're outside of Watonga near Roman Nose and we are getting at least C-cup hail here. It might even be D-cup?"
"D-cup hail near Watonga. We're also seeing it on radar."
"It's coming down hard. The stones are plump and have a very nice shape."
"Let's just hope it doesn't turn Double-D."
After the storms passed, a huge double rainbow stretched across the Oklahoma horizon. It was immediately condemned by the Oklahoma Legislature for advancing the gay agenda.
Losers: News 9 Storm Chasers
It seemed like the entire night they were either stuck in traffic or gustnados.
This photo has gone viral after the storm. I'm not sure I get it. Did God really have to send another tornado to Moore and snap a telephone pole in half just to reach us with abstract symbolism? That's kind of an extreme route to take. Actually, it sounds very passive aggressive. Stick with putting Jesus's face on a grilled cheese at the Mule.
Once again, what's up with this town? To repeat, I lived in Moore in 2003 and a tornado hit my neighborhood. I remember seeing my house on TV during the post-storm helicopter damage and destruction fly by. Once again, is there a scientific explanation for this? Can some meteorologist who doesn't dabble as a spray tanned bodybuilder answer these questions in the comments?
(Yes, I'm aware I'm plagiarising myself. What can I say, it feels good).
Winners: Storm Shelter Companies / Roofers
This has to be their favorite time of the year.
Losers: Anyone who had plans on Wednesday night.
Winners: Local Media
Obviously, we like to give these folks a hard time and make light of what they do, but they actually do a good job keeping us safe. Choreographing a production like this with so many different moving parts isn't easy. Of course, don't feel too sorry for them. Ratings go through the roof during severe weather, so they do have a little incentive to hype this stuff and scare us to death.
Anyway, that concludes our breakdown of yesterday's Severe Weather coverage. Once again, we can laugh at this stuff and make of light of it in an effort to keep our sanity, but never forget to respect the weather and it's power. Stay with The Lost Ogle.com, we'll keep you advised.
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