Earlier this week, I took on what I considered Channel 4's unnecessary over-coverage of storms that didn't hit the Milwaukee TV market. It was my assessment of the situation, and it's not the only one.
I was happy to receive a detailed explanation from one of the guys who was on-camera on Channel 4 over the weekend, forecaster Michael Fish, who had another side of the story to tell, and I'm happy to share his explanation with you.
Writes Fish, "It was a day we just couldn't ignore. A few miles made all the difference, and I'm glad it did for our area, but at the expense of other parts of the state. It could've easily have been us.
"Please don't think that we TV (meteorologists) just like calling on that kind of coverage. This was not management, this was not "Stormageddon." It was my call. I take full responsibility. I asked for Brian Gotter to come in because I knew it was going to be a 24-hour day for me.
"It's always easy to look back and say, 'We should've or we could've,' but this past weekend, especially Sunday was still a day where that tornado outbreak could've happened right here in southeast Wisconsin. I take a tremendous amount of time and effort to make that forecast is as accurate as possible," Fish said in his e-mail.
"Sunday was a big day. From hearing all of the stories and looking at all of the visuals across Wisconsin, it was a huge day. Believe it or not, we were watching for the potential of severe weather already Sunday morning with a very strong frontal boundary moving north. The afternoon also was sitting being watched here because if you looked outside and saw that quick batch of clouds that moved through, that was another triggering mechanism that could've fired those storms off. Also, a very strong low-level jet stream was moving in which, again, could've fired those storms off within 15 minutes.
"There was no time, at any time, on Sunday that we could let our guard down. All we needed to do was break the "cap" (a layer of warm air aloft that inhibits supercellular development), and we could've been in trouble," Fish says.
"As far as knowing that we would not be included on the severe weather risk already on Saturday night, I disagree with that statement. The Storm Prediction Center out of Norman, Okla., had our area in the bull's-eye again going through parts of Sunday. You can't just rely on someone else's forecast, but you can't ignore the severe weather indices and paramenters either. We were back under the moderate risk of severe storms once again on Sunday.
"I stressed this following point on the air both Saturday and Sunday mornings. 'This does not mean we will see severe weather. That means IF there is a storm that develops in our area, there's a moderate risk that they could become severe.' It was very important for me that people understood that concept."
My take: Long-time readers know that my "Stormageddon" critiques don't usually include the actual forecasters -- but the hyped reporting that surrounds the actual weather. In this case, I applaud Fish's diligent monitoring of the situation. My criticism was interrupting programs repeatedly Sunday evening to tell us about dangerous storms that were happening elsewhere.
But I'm happy to let another point of view be heard in this ongoing debate.
On TV: Long-time Channel 4 reporter Melanie Stout has left the NBC station to take a job in Kansas City. She joined the TV station in 2000, after anchoring and reporting at WTMJ-AM (620).
- One of network TV's best dramas, "Friday Night Lights," begins its final season at 7 tonight on Channel 4.
- Also returning for its final season tonight is IFC's "The Whitest Kids U'Know, which airs at 10:30 p.m. The sketch comedy show, an IFC staple, is in its fifth season.
- Discovery Channel is debuting a look at the true story behind the big-screen "The King's Speech." "The Real King's Speech" airs at 6 p.m. Saturday.
- Science Channel has ordered a second season of Ricky Gervais' "An Idiot Abroad," featuring sidekick Karl Pilkington traveling the world. The second season will feature Pilkington taking on a "bucket list" of things to do before you die.
- Variety says PBS is working on a three-hour "American Masters" look at the life and career of Woody Allen to air this fall. The reclusive Allen is participating in the project.
The weekend's big event: HBO launches its fantasy epic "Game of Thrones" at 8 p.m. Sunday.
Here's a preview:
Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for OnMilwaukee.com. He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.
A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.
In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at OnMilwaukee.com.
When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.