TULSA - Like most, I have been following closely the catastrophe involving millions in Japan. The grim reports I have seen on Nightly News and read indicate the nuclear fallout could become worse than the 1986 event in Chernobyl.
I am not comparing Japan's earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown to our storms, but I wonder if we can learn anything from what happened.
Through disasters, we often take away a better way to do things, sometimes a better understanding of causes, and often are more prepared for the next event.
2 Works for You Meteorologist Andy Wallace recently e-mailed me the link to National Public Radio's story on Japan's media's response. It was interesting to me to hear of what they did and how similar it is to what we try to do here during our severe weather events.
Here is a link to the report: http://www.npr.org/2011/04/11/135314543/japans-public-broadcaster-responds-reports-crisis
Here is a quote from the report on how long it took for the Japan network, NHK, to get the word out of the disaster, "Within seconds of a warning from meteorological authorities, NHK interrupted a live broadcast from Japan's Parliament." The response was immediate but how they responded was more impressive.
The news director is quoted as saying, "No matter how disturbing the images being broadcast may be, NHK policy specifies that its announcers and reporters must keep their calm. "Our main purpose is to deliver the information accurately," he says. "And we believe the best way to do that is in a calm manner because if our anchor is shouting and saying 'get out now,' that would be fear mongering."
That is the philosophy we have at KJRH. Our meteorologists try to be clear and calm. I think it is important for you to explain to viewers what is happening, what to expect, and what to do. Don't try to scare the viewers, or hype a storm. I think people trust you more if you are not attempting to frighten them with every storm that rolls through. Sometimes it rains and it isn't "Breaking Weather." Honestly, if you say that too often, at some point it doesn't mean anything.
NHK's main anchor is Shinichi Taketa. Think of him as the Russ McCaskey of Japan's main network. He too was overwhelmed by the sight of the earthquake and tsunami video. When asked about his live coverage, he said, "Maybe I sounded calm, but emotionally, I was not very calm."
There are times during severe weather events, we are very emotional. At times I have the temptation is to raise my voice and say, "Get off the couch now and get your butt in the closet!" Of course I can't say that. We try to remain calm and in control of the situation. I'm not going to exaggerate a weaker storm so you will continue to watch, or ask a spotter to sound more dramatic so the coverage is more exciting.
What they did at NHK's network was useful and may have saved lives. My hope is our team can be as calm and useful next time a storm rolls through Green Country.
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Severe Weather Safety
Tornadoes are Mother Nature's most violent storms. They can produce winds that can reach 300 miles per hour, and they can produce damage paths as wide as a mile and as long as 50 miles.
Another storm season is here, and that means it's time to make sure you and your family are ready for the storms that will head our way.
What you need to do to prepare before the a thunderstorm, how to stay safe during the storm and then once the storm passes what you need to know.