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Friday, June 16, 2006

The Guts and Glory of a Hurricane Hunter: Redux

The coming and going of Tropical Storm Alberto spurred me to do something unusual. No, not moving to North Dakota to be away from any hurricane dangers. And no, not expanding my business empire into plywood and sandbags.

It instead prompted me to recall my debut essay here, more than a hundred posts back. On a warm day not unlike this one almost a year ago, I put virtual pen to virtual paper for the first time, posting about those quirky hurricane reporters.

Because most (all?) of you have never seen it, it's time for my first "repost," where I will replay the article exactly as it appeared. I'm eager to see your comments on this one ... from when I was so young....

Anyway, enjoy this blast from the past--and feel free, as a result, to chuckle the next time you see Jim Cantore in the path of nature's fury.

Over to you.


Blown Away: The Guts and Glory of A Hurricane Hunter

It’s time again for an annual ritual all too familiar to American TV viewers.

Raise your hand if any of these ring a bell: An otherwise reasonable person leaning into a sand-laced wind topping 60 MPH. A padded black microphone, paired with a not-so-fashionable blue windbreaker. A whirlwind warrior -- a Weather Channel reporter named Jim Cantore.

I see several hands in the audience. Good, we have some hurricane coverage addicts in the house.

For those of you living in a cave, you obviously haven’t been assaulted by the images of Hurricane Dennis battering the Florida panhandle today. (Then again, if you live in a cave, you probably don’t spend a lot of time perusing anything followed by “.blogspot.com” anyway.)

But if you are in any way aware of the world around you, you know about the trials and tribulations of the hurricane correspondent. You may have even seen some of the footage of today’s storm. Not exactly must-see TV, I’ll admit ... but you have to salute the constitution, the vocal strength, and the steel-like skin of our nation’s finest weather reporters.

Here’s how I imagine the average cable news network’s office two days before the storm’s projected landfall. Executive #1 holds out straws. Correspondent #3 draws the shortest. Executives #1-4 and Correspondents #1, 2, and 4-10 share guilty glances. Correspondent #3 dons his blue windbreaker and goes to Expedia for one-way tickets to Hurricane Landfall, USA.

And then there’s the Weather Channel. No straws, no guilty glances. Only our brave knight Jim, eager to face the worst maelstrom the Atlantic Gods have to offer.

Compare and contrast.

One is news. Weather, yes … but presented as any other news event. And not too exciting to watch.

The other is spectacle, it’s entertainment. We have office pools on how long it will be until our plucky hero gets clocked by either a tree limb or a pissed-off, less intrepid cameraman who is sick and tired of this shit.

So, as the storm hits, we gasp. We watch our protagonist take shelter briefly behind a shaky wall, or under a twisting tree, as street signs and power lines sail by in the background.

He’s dodging metal sections of a nearby gas station roof. Screaming over the howling wind. Stumbling as the gale roars, nearly hurling him into the newly roofless building.

And we laugh. We can’t help ourselves. This is Jim Cantore’s shining moment, this is what he lives for.

In awe and giddy anticipation we stare at the screen, barely blinking ... silently hoping that we’ll finally see him forced to surf the storm surge. And then we can cheer as our valiant warrior emerges out of the raging-river-that-was-once-a-street, like Luke Skywalker from the trash compactor. Only without lasers and stuff.

Am I making light of the danger? Do I not realize that hurricanes are serious business? Dear reader, I am fully aware that hurricanes kill. In fact, I’ve been through one of these monster storms, and that’s one too many for me. It's not something the average person would want to be caught in, with or without a camera. So I wish one of these horrible storms on NOBODY.

Nobody, that is, except Jim Cantore.

21 Comments:

At June 16, 2006 10:42 AM, Blogger KC replied to my musings ...

I love to watch the weather guys (and gals) in a storm. Oh yes. I think there must be something in me that hopes I'll see a cow fly by in the background. Sure, we've seen flying cows in movies... but not on live TV! Bring on the flying cows!

And just because I love all things Shakespeare, here's a quote from Hamlet about the calm before storms:
"But, as we often see, against some storm,
A silence in the heavens, the rack stand still,
The bold winds speechless, and the orb below
As hush as death- anon the dreadful thunder
Doth rend the region..."

 
At June 16, 2006 11:13 AM, Blogger OnMyWatch replied to my musings ...

Considering I live in LA, I'm a total weather channel addict and I track storms on NOAA's website...in other words, my living room becomes a command post when a storm enters the gulf. And yes, I wouldn't want their job and I do wish to see something spectacular happen to them while the cameras are rolling. funny post!

- read a few more of your older ones. you're very talented and amusing.

 
At June 16, 2006 11:48 AM, Blogger Curare_Z replied to my musings ...

"Memories...in the corner of my mind..."

The Antidote is addicted to the Weather Channel. We will often sit in the relative safety and dryness (well, since we got the basement fixed) of our house and chuckle over Mr. Cantore's ability to lean on the wind as if it were a brick wall.

OHHH - great word verification for your post:

SUNUP. :-)

 
At June 16, 2006 12:22 PM, Blogger Bruce replied to my musings ...

I've always said that if you live along the Gulf or the Mid-Atlantic seaboard and you see either Jim Cantore, Mike Seidel, or Stephanie Abrams, you're screwed.

 
At June 16, 2006 12:36 PM, Blogger LocuTus of Borg replied to my musings ...

Ok living in Florida now ... I am completely get that!! LOL It is funny though how that make it seem like the storm of century. They used to do that in New England when it would snow or the potential for snow. California when it would rain - all points bulletin was out from the Doppler 7000 radar! Great post!

 
At June 16, 2006 2:23 PM, Blogger The Phoenix replied to my musings ...

I read this post way back, when you were on hiatus and invited us to read some of your archived stuff.

You're approaching your first year, I see...I believe I found your blog sometime in August. Time flies.

 
At June 16, 2006 4:05 PM, Blogger Blonde Vigilante replied to my musings ...

Alberto came through VA on Wednesday, but all it was was heavy rain. Enough to make some streets flood and get me wet. But, our local newscasters went down to the Virginia Beach oceanfront to interview locals. It was such drama over a little rain.

 
At June 16, 2006 4:57 PM, Blogger Bruce replied to my musings ...

LOL...blonde vigilante; any kind of inclement weather in VA brings out the news vans, doesn't it?

 
At June 16, 2006 8:20 PM, Blogger Jim replied to my musings ...

so, you live near a beach?

 
At June 17, 2006 11:22 PM, Anonymous Leah replied to my musings ...

Jim Cantore. He sounds like he should have been a lounge singer in Vegas in the 1960's. But not in one of the good Casinos.

 
At June 18, 2006 11:57 AM, Blogger Godwhacker replied to my musings ...

Great "blast from the past" David. I don't know which hurricane you went through, but as a Floridian, these images are even more annoying. Yes we get CNN (Communist News Network), Fox News (Fascist News), MSNBC (haven't thought of a "cute" name for them yet, but it should include the word "menstrual"), The Weather Channel, and every local station performing the same sad and stupid ritual. Yes, it is raining and windy ~ THAT IS WHAT A HURRICANE IS LIKE!

I find myself singing a George Harrison song from the early eighties "Blow away, blow away, blow away... "

 
At June 19, 2006 8:45 AM, Blogger Stacy The Peanut Queen replied to my musings ...

Is it bad that that's my favorite part of the hurricane reports? ;)

 
At June 19, 2006 1:05 PM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

Some people are just born gluttons for punishment. The Hurricane coverage also reminds me of the coverage of the first Gulf War in the early 90s with Peter Arnett and Bernard Shaw reporting from under a bed at a Baghdad hotel-- not because they were afraid of bombs--- oh no-- but because they were afraid of the hotel staff discovering them and forcing them to evacuate their rooms and head to the basement.

 
At June 19, 2006 2:00 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

KC, OMW, Curare: Hurricane coverage addicts abound. Maybe it's genetic; there's something about that big spiral coming toward land that capivates millions of Americans who aren't even nearby!

Jim: I don't live near enough to a beach, although sometimes during hurricane season I count that as a blessing.

Bruce, Leah, Stacy, Perplexio: Jim Cantore ought to win an Emmy or something. Or at least the TV weatherman version thereof, if they have one. Maybe they can call it the "Willard" in honor of longtime Today show weather guru Willard Scott.

Those of you in Hurricane Alley, from BV in VB down to you Floridians like Locutus and GW: Are you worried about this season?

Those of you not in the danger zone: Are you hoping for a light season ... or perversely anticipating another monster coming ashore that you can watch from the safety of your inland home?

-- david

 
At June 19, 2006 3:30 PM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

But does Jim Cantore ever mention grannies celebrating their centennial and post-centennial birthdays?

I can see it now:

"As you can see, there's an 108 mph wind from the East... and speaking of 108, Doris Johnson turned 108 years young today..."

 
At June 19, 2006 4:28 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Good point, Perplexio. I haven't yet heard Jimmy C. going there.

Phoenix: Thanks for reminding me--it's almost time for another round to select the "best of' since the last informal poll.

-- david

 
At June 19, 2006 6:49 PM, Blogger Jim replied to my musings ...

so, not close to the beach huh, Rooty and I will have to vacation elsewhere

 
At June 19, 2006 9:43 PM, Blogger LBseahag replied to my musings ...

Hurricanes blow.

 
At June 20, 2006 2:14 AM, Blogger Carmel replied to my musings ...

I liked that, although I do not know Jim Cantone! =)
I have never experienced or been anywhere near a hurricane and hope never to be. Great post.

 
At June 20, 2006 9:20 AM, Blogger DaBich replied to my musings ...

Nice post for my first visit lol
I DO know Jim Cantore, bless his heart. Living in the mountains of PA, tho, the snow is more of a concern than hurricanes. I watched some of the Katrina coverage, and it made me happy to put up with snow.
I'm looking forward to visiting again :)

 
At August 16, 2006 5:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous replied to my musings ...

What a funny post! We live in Slidell, LA, and we stayed through Hurricane Katrina. It was as awful as can be imagined, but the weathermen on the t.v. always amaze and amuse me with their desire to tackle a storm like that head on! Thanks for the laughs!

 

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