My wife and I have lived in the Northeastern U.S. for a bit more than a year. Wherever we’ve lived has had its own weather issues: hurricanes, heat, humidity, etc. But here, it’s snow — and lots of it at times.
Through my three decades in media, I have watched meteorologists at work. I’ve noticed that you can usually tell how dire the forecast will be without them saying a word — all you need is the setup.
You’ve heard of the Armed Forces’ “DefCon (Defense Readiness Condition) Scale? Well, I call this the WxCon (Weather Condition) Scale.
WXCON 5 (Normal Weather):
Usually the forecaster is dressed normally..looking quite dapper. I use my friend, and WCSC Charleston Chief Meteorologist Bill Walsh (@BILLWALSHTV) as my example. He’s one of the very best. All is usually pretty calm weather wise.
WXCON 4: (Elevated Risk)
Usually an indication that there’s “something” out there..but we’re not quite sure. The weather forecaster has shed the jacket…but has maintained a neat appearance. That allows for some flailing of the arms..but still there’s not a whole lot to worry about…yet.
WXCON 3: (Severe Weather Coming)
Things are getting serious now. Usually a “watch” or “warning” has been issued by this time. The weather forecaster still has no jacket…but now the sleeves are rolled up. Time to get the hands dirty. The model here is CBS 2 New York Chief Meteorologist Lonnie Quinn (@LonnieQuinnTV) — among the best in the business when it comes to weather. Time to go out and get the bread and milk.
For the ladies who run the weather department, this is about the time the “bling” and the heels go away and we settle in for the long haul.
WXCON 2: (Time to pay attention!)
By now..the severe weather is about at your doorstep. The situation is so serious that your favorite channel’s programming has now been hijacked (with good reason I might add) and it usually takes more than one meteorologist to explain the situation. We refer to this in the business as “Wall-to-Wall Coverage”. This is about as serious as it gets…until we reach…
WXCON 1: (Aw Hell!)
This is the Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore — arguably the best severe weather reporter going today. Should he show up in your city or town, you may want to consider leaving. Quite honestly — you should already be gone. He is always either in the eye of the storm or the teeth of the blizzard. This is when you know it can’t get much worse.
So…there you have it. All of this is a bit tongue in cheek, but many will tell you — it bears out more often than not.