“in the event of an actual emergency…”

There are certain challenges one contends with in operating a statewide radio network. Especially in places like Colorado (where I came from), and Vermont (where I live now) with vast geographical and topographical differentiations possible over such a broad area. Where there may be truly severe weather occurring in one area, it may be quite localized with weather that’s just fine everywhere else. What to do, broadcast the warning over the air (when the radio signal covers the entire region, afflicted and unafflicted areas alike) or not?

One of the issues we must consider carefully is the broadcast of messages from the Emergency Alert System. You know what I’m talking about: these are the pre-recorded, often very difficult to hear message preceded by a series of brapping tones that start with something like: “At 7:19pm Eastern Time, the National Weather Service reported a line of dark clouds and ominous winds in a line 20 miles Southeast of…” You hear these a lot in the summertime, when hail and lightning and thunderheads are most prevalent.

Well it’s easy enough to decide what kind of alerts to broadcast: the ones that are imminent or expected to impact life and limb (tornado, flash flood) are a given. But what about the severe thunderstorm watches? What about all of the high wind warnings, or those dire freeze advisories? Keeping in mind that with storms of the “imminent” kind, it’s also very likely that they will be fast-moving, so that any warnings one decides to air must go out IMMEDIATELY or face the very real risk of being irrelevant because they speak to a system that’s already passed.

And so we learn that there are many subtleties, indeed, in deciding what should be broadcast immediately and what could possibly wait, or not be aired at all.

That must be where this video comes in, featuring a very distraught caller (with a very thick Texas AX-cent…). The poor woman – all she wanted to do is catch the season finale of her fave TV show, and what she got instead was some guy on the local TV station talking about tornadoes that weren’t even  “in her area”!

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