All Hurricane, All the Time

All Hurricane, All the Time

The Eastern Seaboard of the United States is currently experiencing the ravages of Hurricane Irene, and local television stations are desperately trying to justify their 21st-century existence by keeping staff meteorologists up ’round the clock and sending hapless reporters to the beach. As far as we’re concerned, reporters assigned to the Delaware Shore when steamed crabs and frozen custard are unavailable deserve hardship pay.

Local TV news coverage of hurricanes chiefly consists of shaky, intermittent video, and lots of wind noise. Live remote broadcasts show reporters invading evacuated coastal resort towns, driving through standing water, walking on the beach, and doing all the things citizens are cautioned against by emergency officials.

According to NAB standards and FCC regulations, video broadcasts of hurricane news must contain the following elements:

Mind-blowing, multicolored, dynamic weather map graphics no one understands

 Viewer cellphone photos of cars and homes crushed by trees

Interviews with dog walkers and drunken, bar-hopping young people

Toppled and shattered fast-food drive-in signs (with any luck, lots of them)

Flooded streets, wind-tossed foliage and lamposts, ominous clouds, pounding surf

Shaky, rain-streaked stop-time images from traffic webcams

Reports of dead surfers whose last words were probably “Hey, watch this!”

Report any lapses to the authorities.

Short link:

Image (“All Hurricane, All the Time, after Hokusai)”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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2 Responses to “All Hurricane, All the Time”

  1. Mike Licht Says:


    “Public service or weather porn, how much coverage of Hurricane Irene has been valuable, how much hype?” Julie Moos,

    “Who Profited from Irene? The Weather Channel,” Connor Simpson, The Atlantic Wire

    “Irene on Television: ‘Coming, and here,’” Ben Greenman, The New Yorker blog

    “Why Do Hurricanes Have Names?”

  2. Mike Licht Says:

    “That, you could conclude mordantly, is the real soundtrack of our time: the amplification of the self-evident toward the creation of paralyzing, preëmptive paranoia. The real purpose not to get you to do anything, but to get you so scared that all you can do is keep the television, or radio, on.”

    Adam Gopnik, “Hurricane Irene: Storm Warnings,” The New Yorker blog

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