The most recent case in point occurred this past Friday when Nemo the Nor'easter (sounds like a Disney film, no?), bore down on the tri-state metropolitan area. All the major media outlets interrupted regularly scheduled programming to begin what would become a full 36-hours of non-stop, full team, StormTracker coverage of the 'Epic Blizzard of 2013.'
And, if The Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences had a special category for best performance by a TV meteorologist covering a run-of-the-mill storm, then the Oscar most certainly would be awarded to Lonnie Quinn, WCBS-TV's answer to Marlon Brando, Johnny Depp and Sir Laurence Olivier.
Beginning early Friday afternoon as Nemo began rising out of the ocean depths and threatening The Big Apple, Lonnie demonstrated to one and all that he had brought his A-game to this particular disaster.
Shirt sleeves rolled up to the elbows, tie unbuttoned and collar loosened to let viewers know how hard he was working, Quinn would punctuate his analysis with a quivering voice that waxed and waned in synchronous rhythm to match the tides just beginning to buffet the South Shore of poor, unsuspecting Long Island.
Every quarter-hour, Lonnie would provide breathless, five-minute reports on a different aspect of the approaching monster and then, totally drained, turn the greater storm coverage back to anchorman, Maurice DeBois.
But, as Maurice, and other, on-the-scene, EyeOnTheStorm team members provided live updates from Mahwah, Massapequa and Mount Vernon, we'd still catch an occasional split screen glimpse of Lonnie conferring with other, behind-the-scene meteorologists huddled in front a Doppler Radar-loaded computer.
Lonnie could be seen scratching his head, imploring one of his peers to dig even deeper into the data and, in a nice, added touch of drama, being handed sheets of breaking weather news by some intern.
Then, DuBois would come back full screen, thank roving correspondent, Sara Schleuter-Brown-Schleuter for her observations on the rapidly accumulating snow in Jersey City and switch back to Lonnie at the weather board.
Sure enough, Lonnie would look even more disheveled than before! His sleeves were hitched even higher to reveal neatly sculpted biceps. And his tie was pulled even lower to show just the hint of a nicely cut upper torso.
I began to think that, if Lonnie didn't calm down, he'd soon suffer a massive stroke and become Nemo the Nor'eastern's first official victim (On a side note, it was interesting to observe NBC's Lester Holt's negative non-verbals Saturday night when he had to admit the total number of deaths attributable to Nemo hadn't even reached double digits. Bummer.).
I realize Lonnie, and his peers, are trained professionals, but it strikes me there's becoming an increasingly thin line between reporting the facts and escalating them with needless histrionics.
As the storm passed quickly through the tri-state region by Saturday morning, the media were left with little more than, well, a slightly above average winter snowstorm. True, there were the horrific tales of Long Islanders stranded in abandoned cars on the L.I.E. and some Connecticut towns with three feet of white stuff. But, did we really need the blizzard of 24×7 coverage and blustery bantering of weathermen like Quinn?
The whole scene reminded me of a Saturday Night Live parody on the Rolling Stones classic tune, Gimme Shelter (and its opening line: 'A storm is threatening my very life today').
With the exception of the nine fatalities, the only life being threatened was Lonnie's, and it was a self-inflicted threat at that.