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Toeing the Line: Local news is on storm watch once more

March 01, 2014|By Ray Richmond

The water is coming! The water is coming! Spectacular amounts of it! Quick, round up two of every animal and meet us at the ark at dusk. This thing that’s bearing down on us is gargantuan! It’s monumental! It’s…it’s…Stormageddon!

If you were watching the television news in these parts, by midweek the stations were dutifully setting the catastrophic scene for StormWatch ’14, the anchors breathlessly hawking team coverage of the coming deluge that was certain to wreak untold havoc on a parched metropolis. Or so they hoped.

Floods. Mudslides. Gridlock. Panic. Chaos. Soaked socks. To hear the feverish yammering that’s been assaulting us, you would have thought it was bombs that were poised to fall from the sky rather than the natural phenomenon of H2O droplets. Liquid that we desperately need, mind you.

They’re chortling at us in the rest of the country, of course. As well they should. We enjoy consistently a perfect and mild climate for months, then as soon as there’s a little actual weather aimed our way we collectively lose our sunbaked minds.

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This is not to minimize the potential hazards that often result when a bone-dry area gets pounded with more rain in 24 hours than it’s experienced in the previous seven months combined. No doubt, this is what’s going down as you read these words. It doesn’t mean the drought is over by any stretch. It merely means the smug sense of eco-entitlement that we all carry around gets doused for a spell – literally.

The threat of rain. That’s how it was described all over TV this week. Not the “promise” of rain or the “arrival” of it. Because make no mistake, any water that isn’t in a plastic bottle or a swimming pool or pouring from a fixture is cast as a sinister menace no matter how desperately we need it.

At least, this is how it comes across on the news. It’s man versus moisture, baby. Any phenomenon — natural or otherwise — that dampens our clothes, threatens our flower beds, slows our commute and eliminates our outdoor-seating option must be terminated.

But that isn’t why the local newscasts are duty-bound to classify any downpour as Mother Nature’s declaration of war on our lifestyle. It’s because they have a vested interest in scaring viewers with gloomy prophesies of doom. Frightened people, after all, tend to stay home and watch lots more news.

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