Storm Coverage: Too Much, Not Enough, Just Right?

By: Stephanie Shoop - News Director
By: Stephanie Shoop - News Director

Viewers weigh in on WITN's storm coverage Sunday. Learn why we did what we did.

It's not often you watch a tornado form on live video, from cloud to ground in the region where you live.  In fact, for most of us, it could be a once-in-a-lifetime event. That's exactly what we witnessed Sunday, as the WITN Washington webcam captured the actual birth of a tornado. We had that video live on the air as part of our continuing severe weather coverage. When all was said and done, two tornadoes touched down in Beaufort County during the storms. 

There's no arguing... that tornado video is compelling. One person I talked to said the hair stood up on her husband's arms as he watched the live coverage. I just took a call, some 20 hours after the event, from a viewer thanking us for our storm updates, telling us we did a good job. E-mails expressed thanks as well. But there's another side.  

Some of you were downright angry WITN interrupted the Red Wings-Predators hockey game for severe weather coverage. You called, and you sent e-mails, choosing words like “overkill,” “excessive” and “inappropriate.” I understand how you feel, and I appreciate your passion for the sport. We take our responsibility to serve you very seriously.  We work very carefully to balance regular programming and storm cut-ins. As you saw Sunday, when there is a serious threat, we are on the air.  

Some of you suggested our coverage would have been shorter or eliminated if other teams and other sports had been on our air at the time of the storms. I love hockey. I have a fondness for the Penquins, having grown up watching them on TV and in person in Pittsburgh . I like the Hurricanes, part of my Carolina roots. And sure, we evaluate what's on, as well as its importance and impact, before cutting into programming. But yesterday, it wouldn't have mattered.  We had ideal conditions for tornadoes, and that’s what we got. One at 3:45 p.m., the other at 4:38 p.m. 

At one point, we couldn’t have gone back to the hockey game even if we had wanted to… the same storms spawning the twisters were blocking out satellite signals. Network programming on primary and backup receivers disappeared. It took 15 minutes to get the signal back and even then it was spotty for a while. 

While some of you had blue skies Sunday afternoon, your neighbors in Beaufort County faced a potentially deadly situation. WITN had to sound the alert, as hard and as long as the danger existed. It would have been irresponsible if we had not.  I hope it helps you to know that we will be here for you too, should tornado conditions threaten your area.    

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Charlene Location: Duplin on Apr 28, 2009 at 10:36 AM
    I think that WITN has a great weather repsonse team that gets the forecast in order for the public and surrounding areas in the veiwing and i think that it is just enough very accurate thank you WITN and keep up the good job well done my hat off to salute the entire team that makes a job well done.
  • by JoAnn Location: New Bern on May 21, 2008 at 03:56 PM
    I think you do a WONDERFUL job covering severe weather! I often comment to my husband that you can no longer rely on the The Weather Channel because they always seem to be doing "Storm Stories" whenever we have have severe weather here, and a scroll across the screen is NOT enough during tornado touchdowns.....because if you are in the path....those few precious minutes that you are waiting to read the could be getting your family to safety. I value my family's life more than "entertainment" on TV. Keep up the good work!!
  • by Tiffany Location: Hubert, NC on May 20, 2008 at 05:36 PM
    I wanted to thank you for the coverage on Sunday. My family and I were right in the path of 2 of those tornados. We watched WITN for the entire broadcast, being thankful that we were getting a minute by minute showing of were the storms where and how close they were to us. Thank you for all that you do. (P.S. Your broadcast wasn't a "overkill" and it certainly wasn't "inappropriate" for those of us whose lives were in danger.) Thanks again.
  • by Anonymous Location: Plymouth on May 15, 2008 at 08:32 PM
    It seems to me people are giving a hockey game priority over their own personal safety. No one likes to have the show they are watching interrupted but if that is what it takes to save lives then so be it. I think WITN weather is by far the best. The interruption of a show just proves to me there is something severe going on that I need to be made aware of. Sure the scrolling at the bottom of the screen works for possiblities of severe weather but if it's actually headed my way...interrupt all you want to!! Keep up the good work WITN !!! The life your interruption of a show saves may be mine or one of my loved ones!! Thank you for caring about the people in your viewing area....
  • by Tracey Location: Hubert on May 12, 2008 at 09:38 AM
    I can not believe ppl are complaining about the news coverage of these storms! These are the same ppl that would be injured in one of these storms and turn around and say "I didnt know there was a storm coming"! For those of you complaining there are hundreds of other things you could have watched on one of the cable channels! I have grandchildren and we were all together watching these storms so that we could be prepared! THANK YOU.....witntv for doing a GREAT job!!
  • by Angie Location: Beulaville on May 11, 2008 at 04:55 PM
    There is a rainbow southeast of Beulaville at this very moment, though it's thundering in our background and the skies are still cloudy to the southwest.
  • by Angie Location: Beulaville on May 11, 2008 at 04:55 PM
    Keep up those weather reports ! Your coverage is wonderful, timely and accurate most of the time ! Some of us depend on your weather in planning our days, whether its a work day or rest day. Thanks for what you do !
  • by Garrison Location: Winterville on May 5, 2008 at 01:17 PM
    We will have weather whether or not!
  • by Steve Location: Winterville on May 4, 2008 at 05:09 PM
  • by John Location: Washington on Apr 30, 2008 at 11:40 AM
    Just another example of how East Carolinians need to be spoon feed. I think it is time for some of you to think for yourselves. As for last weekend...good coverage. Also noticed how the weather updates didn't start till after the Pittsburg game. Also noticed the weather updates depend on who is playing.
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