- This is the last thing you see before you die. (Photo: Associated Press)
These dangerous weather events cause an average of 70 deaths and 1,500 injuries in the U.S. each year.
What are tornadoes?
Correct! On Saturday, the National Weather Service issued this dire weather alert for D.C.
What is a tornado warning?
Yes. During a tornado warning, this authority is the best source for potentially lifesaving information.
Who is Alex Trebek?
That is incorrect. However, judging from the feedback we received whenever our ABC7 meteorologists cut into Jeopardy! on Saturday evening, many of you would disagree. Strenuously.
“I'm trying to watch Jeopardy and your blasted weatherman is blathering on and on about the storm,” said B.G. “Mostly what he's doing is playing with the graphics on the computer. This is ridiculous – you have a whole channel devoted to weather, so why ruin the show for thousands of devoted viewers so your weather guy and the computer graphics department can have a Saturday night ego trip?”
But there was much more.
Wrote Ann: “While I appreciate your warnings of weather conditions, your Saturday night warnings of possible tornadoes in the very wide ranging area went on far too long....The repetitive reporting went on for so long that we missed the last half of double 'Jeopardy,' the subsequent commercials, then final 'Jeopardy,' and came back finally during the commercials after the show. I know that the weather people get very excited about conditions, but please tell them to state their information maybe twice per interruption and then let us get on with it!!”
“Now that Jeopardy is over and it was interrupted three times, my Saturday evening is ruined,” said Ali. “Thanks a lot.”
This hailstorm of peevishness raises all sorts of mind-bending trains of thought. Do Jeopardy! viewers live in concrete bunkers immune from damaging weather? Does Alex Trebek command such power over his viewers that they don't care whether they live or die, as long as his beaming face is the last thing they see? Would cutting into the show with tornado news be O.K. if it wasn't during the ever-so-important double-Jeopardy! round?
And, wasn't Saturday's episode a repeat?
Two tornadoes in Virginia and flash flooding Saturday are reported to have caused seven deaths. Raging storm lines that same day freed almost two-dozen souls in North Carolina. Since Thursday, this storm has been responsible for at least 43 fatalities. Impressive damage wasn't contained to the south of D.C.: In Maryland's Carroll County, wind gusts blew a barn onto Highway 27, sent siding wrapping around the top of a tree and drove a board deep into the ground.
Granted, the Jeopardy! comments were more charitable than the ones we got when our severe weather updates interrupted the basketball playoffs. (“Why is a tornado more important than the game?...Thanks for being douchebags.”) Make your own assumptions as to what that says about die-hard sports fans versus quiz obsessives. Perhaps my job makes me partial, but I would rather know whether I should be going fetal in a bathtub than the question to the answer, "This president's bathtub was so large it accommodated four men." (Obama?)
ABC7 meteorologist Steve Rudin, another biased weather-industry person, was called a "bastard" for merely warning people about the danger. He says that he's "glad" the station made the call to go on with tornado-warning coverage.
"We have a long standing policy at ABC7 that we break into programming for warnings only, and that is exactly what we did," he says. "Within 30 seconds, we were on-air with the warnings, just as every other station was. For those who think we just press a button to go on, that is not the case. We have to call closed captioning, master control."
Adds Rudin: "I hope we don't have severe weather the day Oprah has her last show."
Today will feature lovely weather – cloudy with highs around 70 degrees – but there is the chance for more severe storms on Wednesday night. Let's just pray they don't arrive during the critical half hour of 7:30 to 8 p.m.