Weather reports: preparing vs. scaring

Growing up with a weather phobia can be challenging. Because of my phobia, I have grown up obsessed with watching and learning about the weather. This blog is to share my experiences and discuss weather problems and situations in the U.S.

I had a lot of ideas of what to write in this week’s blog, but after seeing this video(below) I knew I had to do something on it. So today’s topic is weather forecasts: prepare versus scare.

Some people praised this guy for being direct because let’s face it, if you are told to evacuate because of a massive hurricane, you might want to actually evacuate. Before Katrina, thousands were told to leave and they didn’t, which made the death toll significantly higher than it would have been if they did heed the warnings.

On the other hand, and my personal belief, this guy is being crazy. Yes. Hurricane Matthew was a deadly storm that killed hundreds in Haiti, dozens in the U.S. and destroyed parts of the Southeastern United States, but saying “your children will die!” is a little extreme. Maybe compare it to past storms. Give examples of damage, or even how you might die, like storm surge, flooding, trees falling on you etc, But just blatantly saying “you will die” is not effective in my opinion.

But who knows. Maybe this fear tactic works in the South. (Sorry South)

Coming from someone with a fear of severe weather, being told that I am definitely going to die would not help the situation. There is a very fine line between preparing you and scaring you and I think most of it has to do with the delivery of the newscast. If the weatherman looks afraid or talks frantically, then they’re likely to scare viewers. They need to give valid information and get the point across in order to protect and prepare.

In the fight between preparing and scaring, I think forecasters should always aim for preparing. Weather can be scary enough, and that’s why people are watching the forecast: to be prepared when they’re already afraid.


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