HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
July 2, 2007, Herald Journal

Weather you can depend on

By KRISTEN MILLER

We all know weather is very unpredictable, especially during the summer months, when one has to worry about severe weather.

Severe weather can be anything from wind, flooding, tornadoes, and most recently, hail.

Unfortunately, storms like this can pop up very quickly with little warning or time to prepare.

Farmers tend to take the brunt of whatever the weather happens to be on any given day. Crops need water, but not too much. Besides drought, hail may be a farmer’s worst enemy, especially if it happens to be larger than pea-sized hail.

Weather tends to leave farmers helpless. In a drought, they can irrigate. But there isn’t much they can do to prepare for a hail storm.

Meteorologists are criticized for not getting warnings out in a timely fashion. More recently, metropolitan news stations have been focusing quite heavily on metro weather, leaving those on the outskirts in the dark.

Speaking with Rick Hiltbrand from the National Weather Service based out of Chanhassen, I found a severe thunderstorm warning had been issued at 5:24 p.m. 15 miles northwest of Annandale. With this came a report of nickel-size hail with damaging winds up to 60 mph, which was moving southeast at 30 mph.

This information is then picked up by local news stations. It is up to the stations to relay the message to John Q Public.

We’ve been complaining about the accuracy of weather forecasters for years, but we still rely on them.

I say, take it straight from the horse’s mouth. Buy a weather radio which provides the forecast from the NWS. This can be purchased at places like Radio Shack for as low as $39.99.

Many people who sit at their computers all day and have access to the Internet have good luck receiving up-to-date weather announcements.

Others are more likely to depend on their favorite news channel. So, I took a little office poll to see just which might be the most informative news station, and ultimately, the best weather predictor.

Three out of seven thought KARE 11 had the best news and weather forecasting. I, personally, enjoy Belinda Jensen and think she does a good job reporting the weather.

Three out of seven thought WCCO was the best. This also included the online version.

One person doesn’t trust just one channel, but rather needs to watch them all.

One night, I decided to sit down and do just that – watch every weather forecast.

I have to say Fox 9 was the worst. Talk about only reporting metro areas.

Belinda and Paul Douglas are my favorites, but a little extra feature on KARE 11 was a weather forecast running on the bottom of the screen during the weather forecast. It shows forecasts the evening and next day for cities across the state.

This particular night happened to be one with severe weather off to the east, into Wisconsin. There was continuous bottom-of-the-screen coverage throughout my TV show and even during commercial time on KARE 11. The only other station to do this was KSTP.

If you don’t already have a favorite news station, I encourage you to do some channel surfing, and decide just who best informs you on the local weather.