Honest Counters and Dishonest Doppler

Anybody who has paid attention to my weekly rants knows that I have been extremely critical of the counting methods utilized by organizers of area events. I’m embarrassed whenever I read that a parade or festival has somehow squeezed double the city’s population into a four-block area, or what seems to be a one-beer, one-person method of counting the attendees at Jazzfest or the Sioux Empire Fair. I don’t know how Lifelight counts their patrons, but they’re also not above fibbing a little bit.
I’m not saying that any of these events are not successful; plenty of people show up at everything I just listed. I have just never understood why they can’t be more honest. These exaggerations also just set them up to look even sillier the following year as there is always pressure to top the numbers of the previous year.
With that in mind, you can imagine the smile that came to my face when I picked up the daily paper last Saturday. The lead story of that edition reported that due to a new, more accurate method of customer tracking, the Empire Mall changed their 2006 estimates from 14 million customers to 7 million.
I applaud the management of the mall for coming clean. Seven million customers is still an impressive number – the Empire Mall is still by far the largest shopping center in the state. Let’s hope that other local leaders follow the mall’s lead.
Speaking of exaggeration, though, I have to comment about last week’s Blizzard 2007 miniseries. The program began as early as last Monday, with predictions of a snowstorm unlike anything we had seen in years. We were once again taught what to do if the power goes out, and how to shovel and drive. Oh, and don’t stick your hand in a snow blower. On Friday, we even got a camera shot of the airline schedules because a couple of flights had been cancelled (despite the fact that flights are cancelled every day).
They even managed to slip in yet another story about Lamont Sanford (I mean Kelby Krabbenhoft) because they just happened to find him at the airport trying to get out of town before the Blizzard of 2007 hit. C’mon, you guys. Your reporters have spent enough time on their knees giving oral treats to this egomaniac. Fred and Lamont already get their daily infomercials; maybe this was one time where you could have found a normal citizen to deliver the silly quotes that fit your storyline.
One could see the weather boys’ trouser bulges grow a little bit more every day as our frenzied forecasters led us to weather Armageddon. I’ll bet there were some satisfied wives and girlfriends as their excitement levels grew to epic proportions.
Yet nothing really happened. Friday was a beautiful day; the warmest it had been in days. Saturday was also very mild; there was a bit of drizzle but no snow until the late afternoon. Sure, we eventually received six inches, but it was a typical late season weather system. The temps remained mild, and there was virtually no wind. This was no blizzard, despite the footage they showed us of the obscure spots that received a little bit more snow.
Over the years, I have talked at various times to a few people at our local television stations, and they all think that I exaggerate their obnoxious weather coverage. Trust me, I’m not. Everywhere I’ve gone over the last ten days, particularly since the so-called storm passed, people joke about the weather-practitioners at all three stations (but particularly those at KELO). These aren’t just people that know I like to laugh at these morons; some of them have no clue who I am. Almost anybody under the age of 75 complains that they’re always crying wolf, and that one would be stupid to cancel any plans based on their predictions.
This isn’t a problem that ends when winter’s over, either. In the summer, any potential rainfall is classified as a “storm”, and just like in winter it’s accompanied by days of preliminary reporting designed to scare the public to sit home and watch their wretched newscast. As one clothing store owner said to me a few years ago, “why would I advertise on their station when they keep telling people to stay home?” I couldn’t agree more.
Yet they never learn. Just as this fake storm passed us by, we’re already being told that not one, but two more blizzards are set to hit town. Maybe this time they’ll be right, but I think I speak for everybody in hoping that their losing streak continues for quite some time.


Anonymous said…
someday they'll be right, and you'll be stranded in a ditch without your kelo winter survival kit, and you'll be sorry!
Anonymous said…
I'm originally from Ohio, and during one particularly severe thunderstorm a couple years ago, the weather guy on one of the stations started freaking out--"This is it, folks! We've seen rotation on the radar! Get to your basements or shelters NOW!" kind of stuff, and all I could do is laugh at the guy (and then get really annoyed because he kept interrupting whatever I was trying to watch with his meltdown). It must be something to do with meteorology...Maybe there's something in the water at weather school.
Anonymous said…
Yes, the weather stations in Sioux Falls are comical; however, there is a serious side to this issue. One day soon, people are going to die because they quit believing the information given to them.
Anonymous said…
Yes, we are all going to die because we are a bunch of ignorant hicks. give me a break, I have lived in SD for most of my 34 years. I know what a T-storm is, I know what a Blizzard is, I know they are dangerous and I know how to prepare myself for them.

They need to stop treating people like little kids.

Detroit Lewis
Anonymous said…
I think it's time for some government legislation to be introduced regarding this matter. This tabloid style weather reporting has gotten out of hand.

I blame Jerry's Auto, who probably pays a little extra for their name to be next to the "crawl" every night.
Anonymous said…
I've heard this over-the-top weather guy excitement referred to as a KELOgasm...
Anonymous said…
Believe it or not, I find the NWS to do a pretty good job in forecasting the weather and offering the straight story without the "armageddon-esque" antics.

Bookmark the NWS Sioux Falls website on your computer, or keep a weather radio handy.

Meteorology is a science and science is not exact. Except when it's in the hands of maniacs who have expensive toys that they don't know how to use then it's chaos.

And please, use commonsense when deciding whether or not to travel.
Anonymous said…
I had no problem traveling to Larchwood to get my ciggies last evening. Gas is still $2.31 there too.

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