Just when did ordinary winter storms — lots of snow in Denver, surprise! — become such big news? I doubt Walter Cronkite introduced more than a handful of weather stories during his entire 19-year run as anchor of the “CBS Evening News.” Dan Rather, Cronkite’s successor, was famously fond of hanging onto lampposts in the middle of hurricanes. But for the most part, routine stretches of bad weather were considered just that: routine.
No more. Now, every cold front that threatens to slicken roads and cause airport delays along the Eastern corridor (where, not merely coincidentally, almost all network TV news executives live and work) has become urgent news. And not just in winter. Springtime thunderstorms, summer heat waves, the first cold snap of the fall — all of them get breathless treatment, often accompanied by a barrage of scary stats: “14 states under severe weather watches”; “24 million people at risk for the possibility of tornadoes”; “43 million people at risk for flash flooding.” I grew up in Kansas City, Mo., in what used to be known as Tornado Alley. In the late spring and early summer, we were always at risk. It never seemed to make the national news.
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