Friday, September 12, 2008

Blown Away: The Guts and Glory of A Hurricane Hunter (repost)

Well, well. Here we go again.

Another tropical monster bearing down on the Gulf coast, another day for intrepid reporters to brave the worst nature can throw at them in pursuit of a good broadcast.

Another chance for me to put up one of my favorite posts.

First appearing in 2005 and making a return trip in 2006, this one is an ode to the Weather Channel's Jim Cantore. Keep up the good work, Jim.

Over to you.

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 “” 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:

(A) Executive #1 holds out straws.
(B) Correspondent #3 draws the shortest.
(C) Executives #1-4 and Correspondents #1, 2, and 4-10 share guilty glances.
(D) 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.


At September 13, 2008 2:05 AM, Blogger Barbara(aka Layla) replied to my musings ...

I confess, I am a news junkie. I have a few favorite news anchors which shall remain nameless in this comment (although one is rumored gay I think he's hot).

Anyhow I shake my heads as I watch these people in their windbreakers being pelted with rain and looking like they could sucked up into the sky at any moment.

I think its stupid and that it minimizes the severity and seriousness of these storms. Why the hell do we need to see you standing their looking like a drowned rat endangering your life? Just stop it. Our society is so sensation driven. Its pathetic (yet I am sitting here watching it.....)

At September 15, 2008 11:40 AM, Blogger Mike replied to my musings ...

Jim Cantore is the new combat photographer. Simple as that. When I was growing up in upstate NY, we used to see the Weather Channel van quite often, heading to where the big storm was, usually a blizzard of some kind. My father says you always want to be going in the opposite direction of that van. Once we were in the same place as it, and the snowplows kept trying for hours to get up the mountain. I still feel it's kind of stupid to be standing at the end of the barrel of nature's cannon, but if he wants to...

At September 15, 2008 5:21 PM, Blogger Jeff replied to my musings ...

I must say I do get a kick out of these guys out there fighting the conditions. I always wondered how somebody got picked to do that, but now I can finally be relieved of that burden on my brain. It's as simple as drawing the shortest straw... Thanks for brining light to that dilema!

At September 15, 2008 6:42 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Barbara: Anderson is rumored about it because he refuses to talk about his sexuality. I'm ok with that.

Mike: I like the "new combat reporter" reference.

Jeff: I have read that Cantore is an absolute weather junkie, so I'm pretty sure he volunteers before the straws come out.

At September 15, 2008 11:36 PM, Blogger Jim replied to my musings ...

it started with Dan Rather, who was the first to do it as a reporter for a Houston TV station, he was on the network evening news and the next week he was in New York.

the remnants of Ike washed out one of the two roads that connect my house with the outside world, my rain gauge ran over at six inches, and I'm 600 miles north of the Gulf

At September 17, 2008 3:05 PM, Anonymous LisaBinDaCity replied to my musings ...

I saw that. What a bonehead. I mean they are called dangerous for a reason!!!

At September 18, 2008 11:34 PM, Blogger Phats replied to my musings ...

I think they are nuts, especially Cantore! However, it is their job and they do it well.

At September 19, 2008 6:20 AM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Jim: At least Cantore doesn't sign off with melodramatic blurbs like Rather's "Courage."

Lisa: There is a fine line between brave and boneheaded.

Phats: Doing a job well shouldn't be nuts.

At September 24, 2008 2:18 PM, Blogger Dear Jane replied to my musings ...

well, I must admit I am a weather nerd...hurricane or not - perhaps it is due to all the time I spent living in Tornado Alley?

so yes I am all too familiar with Jim Cantore and the weather channel crew...and I think I have a bit of a crush on the Stephanie Abrams...she's hot. But I digress...

Perhaps the next time you Re-post this fine hurricane prose, mention that Jim Cantore has since shaved his head Bald...or maybe some flying debris shaved it for him?

Anyway, I am thankful the residents of Galveston are able to slowly get back to their homes now.

I am glad to see you decided to stick around the blogosphere, David.

Hope all is well

At September 25, 2008 9:12 AM, Anonymous LisaBinDaCity replied to my musings ...

I'm trying something new! Hope to see you at my blog again soon :-)

At September 25, 2008 4:39 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Jane: I also have a little flame for Stephanie Abrams. Not as much as when I first saw her ... but I'll be glad to share her with you. Or you with her. And yes, I'm around, at least for a while and even if sporadically.

Lisa: Something new? I'm intrigued. I'll swing over.

At September 26, 2008 12:14 AM, Blogger Phats replied to my musings ...

they do a great job, I wouldn't want it is all i was saying ;) But someone must do it I guess.

Our community has been on storm stories! haha

At September 29, 2008 6:59 PM, Blogger Dear Jane... replied to my musings ...

I was never very good at that whole sharing thing. How about I keep Steph the Weather chic; but let you watch? :P

At September 30, 2008 6:13 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Phats: Congrats on the Storm Stories appearance. I missed it--sorry. What's up with your Boilermakers?!? I hoped for better against Notre Dame.

Jane: Sharing? We wouldn't share her, really ... it's more that we'd both enjoy her. At the same time or at a different time--we can work those details out. (Or I can let YOU watch!)


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