WeatherWeather Blogs


Behind the scenes of hurricane coverage

24 hours of new coverage is an adrenaline rush
Posted at 9:39 PM, Sep 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-08 21:48:05-04

Now that Hurricane Dorian is moving away from land and heading into the Atlantic, lets talk about what happens at news stations during their hurricane coverage. I worked in Florida, covering land falling tropical entities for 4 years. As a meteorologist, we know the system may form and get close days in advance. A buzz forms in the newsroom as we share our knowledge with everyone in the news meeting. Reminder emails go out to start packing your overnight bag (2 days worth of clothes, makeup, and hair products), get your sleeping bag ready, and board up your house early... we may be living at work for a few days. From there you start noticing managers bringing in massive amounts of food to the station... it's exciting to bond with employees from all different time shifts.

When I covered Fay in Fort Myers, FL we only had 2 meteorologists at the time. So, one of us would go on air for 12 hours, while the other made weather graphics. We would talk about the storm for 10 minutes before tossing it back to the anchor who would toss it to a reporter live outside. That gave you about a 10 minute break, just long enough to grab snack (which was pancakes around breakfast time that our boss cooked). When I wasn't on air, and it was time to make graphics... breaks were a little longer and you could take a little nap on the floor of the weather center. I bet you never knew TV was so glamorous right? The adrenaline is running through everyone. People want to get new facts every minute, we want to make sure we are doing the best to keep our viewers safe, and we prepare for our own backup plan. Our station generator could only last for so long, so we knew had to get to a partnering radio station to use our backup weather computer to stay on air. In what is chaos outside, friendliness erupted through the newsroom. You look back and realize you made some of your best friends that day.

While I am new to the Baltimore area, I hear snow storm coverage here is run the same way. (Except instead of sleeping on the floor, there is a hotel bed we can sleep on instead of the studio floor.) Next time you watch your local news, remember we are here to help you. That is our daily job, and we would spend days away from our family, to get you the information to stay safe.