Several decades ago, we received our weather reports from a local radio or TV celebrity. On occasion, after an especially hot day or frigid night, we would learn that our city set a record for the date. Today, kept informed by a 24-hour Weather Channel and their cable competitors, we are inundated with reports of weather records from across the country and around the globe. This wealth of "bad news" results from two factors: the need to fill 24 hours with entertaining weather news and, most importantly, computerized records.
The latter allows our weather entertainment industry to "pull-up" all sorts of creative records by accessing their computerized archives. Those who tune into their station are presented with a host of new records everyday; we learn that one city has "set a record for consecutive days without precipitation" while another has "broken its record for the number of record low highs for the month of March." Though no doubt factual, this deluge of record weather phenomena leaves many viewers wondering if our planet's weather has gone haywire; perhaps these are clues to an impending global catastrophe.
Backed by the reality of climate warming, these minicrises, add to a sense of doom which is further stoked by an increasing number of "weather disaster" series. Like evangelists, weather entertain-ment gurus know that a healthy dose of fear keeps the faithful in touch (and patrons mean money).