WVEC chief meteorologist Jeff Lawson jumped on Facebook to explain why the station interrupts regular programming to alert viewers to severe weather.
The meteorologist for the Hampton Roads ABC affiliate wrote on his Facebook page that he “should not have to write this but” he wanted to talk about the station’s severe weather coverage.
After explaining the various reasons why WVEC does what it does, he summed it all up by saying, “The bottom line is that we don’t stay on the air because we ‘like to hear ourselves talk’. We don’t like to ‘show off’ our technology. We stay on until we are convinced that the tornado threat is gone so that someone’s life might be saved despite the inconvenience to others,” Lawson then added, “Hopefully when the rest of the area is sunny and beautiful but there is a possible tornadic cell over just your neighborhood you will be happy that we have this policy.”
Here’s the entire missive:
I should not have to write this but I want to talk about severe weather and our coverage of it.
Our general policy is to stay on the air anytime there is a tornado warning for our viewing area until it expires. Because severe thunderstorms usually are not as deadly we generally cover commercial breaks for those.
Tonight there were 2 different tornado warnings for Accomack County in Virginia. One was from 7:37 until a bit after 8 pm. The other was from 8:15 until 9 pm. For one I stayed on the air for much of the warning. For the other I only covered a couple of minutes of programming and was able to use commercials for updates. I was able to do that because one storm looked on radar like it was very possibly a tornado while the other looked like it probably was not a tornado after the first 5 minutes.
Some of you were quite upset that I covered some of our normal programming and did not just do cut-ins over commercials. The most common complaint is “why don’t you let us watch our show and just run the crawl. Let me tell you the reason that we don’t do that unless we are certain that there is not a threat of a tornado. The 2nd most common complaint is that the severe weather is an hour (or more) away and not something we should worry about. The problem with that is that we have tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of viewers who only get Hampton Roads stations but live up to 2 hours away by car (Outer Banks, Eastern Shore etc). Their lives are just as important as our viewers here in the Metro areas.
Also, MANY people cannot read because they have very poor eyesight (or are totally blind) that prevents them from reading a crawl. If one of those people were to hear a storm coming and turn on the tv to get a warning, what would happen if it was a person who could not read a crawl, and was relying on audio from a cut-in to get the warning to take cover? If a tornado was about to hit they could easily die all because it was decided that a tv show was more important than making 100% sure that anyone tuning in could find out about the severe weather whether or not they were hearing impaired or visually impaired.
The bottom line is that we don’t stay on the air because we “like to hear ourselves talk”. We don’t like to “show off” our technology. We stay on until we are convinced that the tornado threat is gone so that someone’s life might be saved despite the inconvenience to others. Hopefully when the rest of the area is sunny and beautiful but there is a possible tornadic cell over just your neighborhood you will be happy that we have this policy.
Thanks for listening.