Q: Storms don�t roll through town on a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule. When can we expect your meteorologists to be on duty?
A: A majority of severe storms occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. For a television meteorologist, that�s part of the normal working day. Here on the High Plains, we also experience late-night thunder as storms roll in off the Rocky Mountains. We pledge to have someone on duty 24-hours a day, seven days per week, when severe storms threaten our area.
Q: Why do your bulletins always have to air during our favorite programs?
A: Storms don�t know when the best shows are on television. A severe storm rolling across the Plains could care less if our stations are running �American Idol,� �The Office,� or color bars. Unfortunately, the majority of severe weather happens when television stations have their most viewers. It gives the appearance that we�re always cutting into someone�s favorite program. That�s why we pledge to interrupt programming only when it is absolutely necessary to protect life and property.
Q: I understand why you have to cut-in, but do I have to miss all of my favorite program because of the weather?
A: Not always! Every time a severe weather outbreak is expected, we look at the programming on all three of our stations (KAMR, KCIT, and KCPN). We decide which station has the most popular programming that night and put that station in a �delay� mode. That means if we have to interrupt programming on that station we will resume that station�s programming exactly where it left off. We have the capability to do this for one station at a time. This is a pledge that no other station in the Amarillo area has taken.
Q: Why does it seem like you sometimes stay on the air for a long time, repeating the same thing over and over?
A: The simple answer is that every tornado must be taken seriously. Tornadoes destroy property and claim lives. In fact, tornadoes are the most extreme force of weather on the planet. Winds in the strongest tornadoes can reach speeds of up to 300mph. They can level entire communities in a matter of minutes. We pledge to stay on the air for as long as necessary to update viewers, including each new bit of information as it comes in. It�s all part of keeping our viewers safe.
There is also a legal reason for this that many people forget. Commercial television stations are charged with operating in the public interest. It is part of what we agree to do in exchange for our government license. When it comes right down to it, our responsibility to protect people is more important than broadcasting an episode of �30 Rock� or �Bones.�
Q: Why do you have to break in or clutter the screen with maps and crawls just to tell us it�s raining?
A: It is our policy not to do that. Everyone knows that it rains on the High Plains during the spring and summer. The vast majority of our thunderstorms are not severe. We don�t believe in cluttering the screen with maps and crawls because there�s a cloud in the sky. We only put a map on the screen when severe weather watches and/or warnings have been issued. If we feel there is a legitimate need to break in during that kind of event we will wait for a natural break in programming, such as commercials.
Q: I live in town �X� and the storms are 75 miles away from me. Why do I have to put up with cut-ins about their storms?
A: Our viewing area extends from Mt. Capulin in Union County, New Mexico to Quanah, Texas and from Portales, New Mexico to Beaver, Oklahoma. That is an area roughly the size of the state of Ohio. Many times, the dry line sets up across the middle of the Panhandle. When it does, only counties east of the dry line will be affected by severe weather. On other occasions, storms move in off the mountains and bring severe weather only to the western part of our area. Simply put, each of the 44 counties we serve deserves the same amount of respect. Warning people about a tornado near Perico or Goodnight is just as important as warning them about a tornado near Amarillo, Pampa, or Childress.
We want to hear your comments, both good and bad, about our severe weather coverage. We know not every viewer will agree with every decision we make. We do hope
you will understand the decisions we make are done with the
best interest of all High Plains residents in mind.
Copyright 2013 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved.