I have long thought about writing this post but never found the right time. Well after what happened this morning, combined with the fact that this site will self-destruct in about 24 hours, I decided there is no time like the present.
This morning one of the first tweets I saw when I woke up was from the Houston Chronicle linking to a story they had up about the rain today. This story (which was magically corrected about 20 minutes after I tweeted them about it) was the latest example of the Chronicle’s woefully inadequate weather reporting.
Any person living in Houston can tell you the weather here is very dynamic and at times highly disruptive. This is one of the reasons I have been writing about it on this site over the past year. So is it too much to ask that the city’s newspaper of record, one which describes itself as “one of the top media companies in the nation” and as “the leading news website in Houston” have reliable and competent reporting on the weather?
The Chronicle used to have a great weather asset in Eric Berger, the paper’s “Sci-Guy”. However after he departed the Chronicle that role was never filled again. Now whenever there is threatening weather the Chronicle will at best post “articles” that simply re-state the National Weather Service forecast or at worst post incorrect, or wildly overhyped information.
This brings me to this morning. Late last night the National Weather Service issued a flash-flood watch for a number of counties in the Houston area due the possibility of heavy rain. This is obviously a touchy subject in our post-Harvey world. However, the article posted this morning stated that the area was under a flash-flood warning. After the past few years we have had here I like to think most people know the difference between a watch and a warning – and I find it inexcusable for “the leading news website in Houston” to screw up that distinction for a city already suffering from heavy rain induced PTSD.
The city deserves better from the Chronicle. Other cities have a writer or team of writers dedicated to the weather (See the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang). For the 4th largest city in the country – one which houses national an international business interests, and which is routinely racked by disruptive weather – to have no one other than staff writers with no real meteorological interest or knowledge reporting on those events is insanity. We are living in a time in Houston where reliable, understandable, and level-headed weather reporting is needed more than ever, and if the Chronicle really is “the leading news website in Houston” as it claims to be, it needs to do better, much much better.
Unrelated to the above: Thank you to Fred for the opportunity to write here. And thank you to everyone who read my posts, as well as the posts of every other writer on this site. I have truly enjoyed the opportunity to share my thoughts here and hope you all have enjoyed reading. I will miss this site, but hope to keep writing in the future even if its some place else.
As always and one last time – you can find me on Twitter @stephenuzick
Read the full story at Houston Sports and Stuff.