A new category of heroes is emerging on television, as viewers are increasingly focused on a topic that has not been in the spotlight in the past.
The new heroes are weather forecasters, who have stepped to the forefront in a year marked by flooding, drought and the country’s deadliest tornado in 50 years, reports The New York Times‘ Kim Severson.
“The weather is more extreme, the floods are wetter and the droughts are drier,” said National Weather Service spokesman Chris Vaccaro. "That’s going to have real implications on society, and it elevates the need for more information and a need for those on-air personalities. It’s beyond what to wear for the day or do I need to carry an umbrella.”
The role of forecasters has come a long way from the days when they had to "climb on a tricycle at the clown parade," the article says. "Now, the forecaster is the egghead of the newsroom. Most have advanced degrees that include courses in calculus and atmospheric thermodynamics."
Weather personalities are being credited with saving lives, the piece points out. James Spann, the forecaster for Alabama’s WBMA-TV, was called the rock star of meteorology by the governor after sending out warnings about a string of tornadoes via Twitter, Internet streams and TV, the story notes.