Science and the Media: Blizzard Edition

By Carl Zimmer | February 10, 2010 1:13 pm

Here at Fortress Zimmer, we’re gradually getting buried under the latest Snowmageddon, Blizzaster, SnOMG, or whatever you want to call it. The real spectacle so far has been the giddiness of local meteorologists on television and on weather blogs. My wife Grace reminded me of this excellent 1954 essay by E.B. White, in which he described listening to the radio about Hurrican Edna. Suddenly, I feel linked to history.

It became evident to me after a few fast rounds with the radio that the broadcasters had opened up on Edna awfully far in advance, before she had come out of her corner, and were spending themselves at a reckless rate. During the morning hours, they were having a tough time keeping Edna going at the velocity demanded of emergency broadcasting. I heard one fellow from, I think, Riverhead, Long Island, interviewing his out-of-doors man, who had been sent abroad in a car to look over conditions on the eastern end of the island.

“How would you say the roads were?” asked the tense voice.

“They were wet,” replied the reporter, who seemed to be in a sulk.

“Would you say the spray from the puddles was dashing up around the mudguards?” inquired the desperate radioman.

“Yeah,” replied the reporter.

It was one of those confused moments, emotionally, when the listener could not be quite sure what position radio was taking–for hurricanes or against them.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Meta

Comments (2)

  1. Sara

    And 56 years later…nothing has changed. Only due to 24 hours news, we get to see that desperate extending of an already thoroughly bashed topic for almost any event. Weather or not.
    In some ways the internet is good for that. I can catch up on my own time, and see just as much or as little as I want – without seeing commentators comment on commentary. (if I choose not to anyway.)

  2. Mike McKeown

    The E.B. White story sounds as if Bob and Ray had written and performed it.

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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.

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