Sunday, June 12, 2016

Biggest disaster from Tropical Storm Colin – Local media weather sites

I spent Monday following tropical storm Colin on the local TV weather sites.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

I spent Monday following tropical storm Colin on the local TV weather sites.

When it became clear early-on Colin was going to be more of a rain event than heavy wind storm; my attention turned to the sites themselves and how well they performed.

Since my primary office is in my home, I spent Monday following tropical storm Colin on the local TV weather sites.

I must say I was disappointed in all the local broadcast media sites and the intrepid Bay News 9.

Colin was the first tropical storm in a while that looked like it might pose a serious threat to the Bay area, and I would guess that there were hundreds if not thousands of people who logged onto channels 8,10, 13 and Bay News 9 to get their weather information.

Many were first-time visitors, and I suspect their first-time impressions may not have been all that good.

The problem with technology these days is it is cheap, and easy to implement and bright flashing websites with ads in every corner seem to be the order of the day.

The local weather sites look like a cross between a bad video game and an equally bad car dealership web site.

First, there were all the ads. Now I spent eight years in broadcasting a number with a big NBC affiliate in Ohio, and I understand revenue.

There were more irritating flashing boxes and auto start ads with difficult to find stop boxes than even begins to be practical when people are scared and trying to get information to make serious and perhaps life-and-death decisions about the storm.

At one point, I had three different computers logged into various local weather sites to see how they were doing. It was like being in a room full of pinball machines.

The good news is there is plenty of information on all the web sites in some cases perhaps too much. I found all the sites to be difficult to navigate and a little jumpy at times.

The weather radar loops are nice, but the refresh rate is too slow for a major storm. If you are trying to use the loop to determine what may be happening at your location the loop can be confusing at best.

 Whatever happened to the continuous scan from the raw radar data? I know not slick enough.

Then there were the ads. The guys up in marketing must have been blurry eyed at the possibility of all those clicks, but really most people are not looking for a new car during the storm, unless they just saw theirs float out of the drive way.

The ad with the old lady and the flashing hair on Channel 13 stayed up all day. Cute at first, it became a real annoyance. I finally switched my primary computer to Channel 8.

The point is this. On a normal day, regular users of the local media weather sites and aps don’t mind, or they just ignore all that crap you guys pack onto the home page. They know where to go to get what they want, and all that jumping, flashing and auto start bullshit is easy to ignore.

When a storm is moving onshore, and you can’t see the street in front of your house or your stuck in your car and don’t know what to do next a weather page that looks like an end of the world video game is neither appreciated nor much help.

So here is a suggestion.

During the next storm, why not really serve the public by taking a lot of the cute stuff your just out of college webmaster has stuck on the weather page off and pull the ads for a few hours so all your infrequent page visitors can actually get the information they need.

E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook.

See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.


Contributor: Bob Gualtieri for Pinellas County Sheriff

No comments:

Post a Comment