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Published August 02, 2011, 12:00 AM

Parenting Perspectives: Weather guy is the new boogeyman

In my 20-plus years at WDAY-TV, I was blessed to have worked with some wonderful people. Among the nicest were meteorologists Rob Kupec, Daryl Ritchison, John Wheeler and Kip Hines. But to my 7-year-old daughter, Jordan, they might as well be the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

By: Tracy Briggs, INFORUM

In my 20-plus years at WDAY-TV, I was blessed to have worked with some wonderful people.

Among the nicest were meteorologists Rob Kupec, Daryl Ritchison, John Wheeler and Kip Hines. But to my 7-year-old daughter, Jordan, they might as well be the four horsemen of the apocalypse. The mere sound of their voices sends her into a white-hot panic. You have to admit we’ve seen a lot of these guys lately (along with KVLY meteorologist Hutch Johnson, whom I never worked with but met at a “celebrity” karaoke contest. Nice guy. Decent singer.) We’ve had a stormy summer, and these guys are popping up everywhere.

First, let me say, I’m grateful that we have early warnings for severe weather and I think it’s crazy when people complain that weather reports are cutting into their favorite TV shows. I think keeping tabs on weather that can swell to life-and-death proportions is a little more important than not missing a second of “The Bachelorette.” So I don’t mind at all when the TV weathermen send us to our basements for tornado warnings. Safety first.

But this summer, it’s been happening a lot, and Jordan is in freak-out mode.

It started with that big storm on Memorial Day. When the sirens sounded and the power went out that night, both my daughters got scared. This was the first time they remembered having to make that trek to the basement.

“This is just a drill, right? We’re not going to have a tornado right?”

I wanted to be reassuring, but I couldn’t promise anything. So I said, “No, this isn’t a drill like you have in school. Most likely we won’t have a tornado, but we have to be prepared.”

That was met with a deer-in-headlights look followed by hunkering down under a blanket.

The routine has become so bad that a few weekends ago, Rob Kupec came on the radio and Jordan immediately screamed, “Noooooo! What’s he doing on? What’s he saying? We’re not having a tornado, right? Turn it off; turn it off!”

A couple of weeks ago, when the sirens blew at 4:30 a.m., a bleary-eyed but terrified Jordan insisted that we turn away from the weather reports and turn to The Disney Channel. Apparently Mickey and Donald are less threatening than John and Daryl.

Lest my weathermen friends feel too bad about scaring my children, I’ll remind them they are not the scariest weather guys out there.

Nope.

The scariest weatherman isn’t really a man at all. It’s that voice that comes on during the televised EAS weather alerts.

You know the one I’m talking about. The TV screen goes blue with graphics out of 1977, followed by the most obnoxious squawk. Then a computer-generated voice comes on that sounds like an alien out of a bad 1950s sci-fi movie: “Attention earthlings, you are now experiencing catastrophic weather circumstances that will end in the realignment of your planet.”

That guy even gives me the creeps. Couldn’t the weather service find one of those sultry-voiced GPS ladies to do the alerts? “A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for Cass County, and turn left in 100 feet.”

So John, Daryl, Rob, Kip, Hutch and all you weather folks out there, thanks for the hard work you do for us all year long. I appreciate it. Just don’t be surprised if we need to cross the street when we see you coming.


Tracy Briggs is a mother of two and is an employee of Forum Communications Co.

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