In Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather one of my favorite chapters to write was “The Day TV Weather Grew Up” where I tell the story of the June 8, 1974, tornado outbreak and how it was covered. It was the first time a tornado was broadcast live on television.
|Steve Tegtmeier’s photo of the formative stage of the June 8, 1974, tornado we broadcast.|
We received 75 cards and letters telling us, “you saved our lives!” There was also an editorial cartoon pertaining to our groundbreaking coverage along with a Letter to the Editor. The reaction was overwhelming and humbling.
The Frank Magid Company, the largest company of television news consultants, came to Oklahoma City to interview us and, within literally months, weather radars, real meteorologists, and much improved storm coverage spread across the U.S.
Fast forward to the present. Below is a video put together by the Universities and Oklahoma and Alabama pertaining to the role played by television and radio meteorologists during the 2011 tornado outbreaks. It is well done and worth watching. Broadcast meteorology does not get the credit it deserves for the lives it saves.
The live broadcast of tornadoes is now routine in many markets. The TV meteorologists at KSNF TV in Joplin continued on the air even as their lives were in danger. In some cases, meteorologists worked literally 24 consecutive hours.
It looks like tornadoes are possible in the southern Plains the next few days. The 2012 tornado season began more than a week ago. If you appreciate the work done by your local television meteorologist, drop them a note in the mail or send them an email. I know they’ll appreciate it.
Congratulations to the meteorologists for all of the great work done in 2011! Good luck this tornado season.