Forget death and taxes: the one real constant in life is breathy local news coverage of almost any kind of weather. Watching TV news reporters acting bewildered by temperature fluctuations or any amount of precipitation, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the giant dome that has maintained the city’s perfect 21° year-round weather for hundreds of years had just broken down, letting sandstorms, radiation, and monsters invade the city from the post-apocalyptic wasteland that surrounds it.
Take CityNews‘s six o’clock coverage yesterday. Francis D’Souza‘s astonishment at the massive snowbank on the side of the street was only the beginning. “I mean, look at this snowbank,” he exclaimed in his story’s lead, gesturing at a pile of snow that came up to his knees. “It comes up to my knees.” Can you believe that it got worse from there?
Meteorologist Michael Kuss followed up by pressing his gloved hand into an untouched patch of snow on Queen Street, measuring its depth to demonstrate the gravity of the situation. He held his hand up for the camera like a cake tester pulled out of a fresh muffin, estimating the accumulation at “probably six, seven centimeters already.” Don’t try this at home kids, he’s a trained professional and, according to his bio, a “Level 2 snowboard instructor.” If anyone knows snow, he does.
Not quite done with underwhelming weather-related visual stunts, City continued with Chris Potter in Oakville, who showed viewers a barren parking lot with wind-blown “wisps (of snow) floating by.” Haven’t we all seen snow blowing across a parking lot before? Apparently not. Potter went on to explain how this wind-blown snow collects into these things called “snow drifts.” Who knew? And just in case viewers were wondering just how troublesome these so-called drifts would be, Potter duplicated Kuss’s stunt and recklessly plunged his hand into one, declaring it to be “a few centimeters” deep. Oh, the humanity.
And then there were the inevitable man-on-the-street interviews, with Marianne Dimain asking such hard-hitting questions as, “Do you like driving in this weather?” and “Are you tired of shovelling?” Fascinating.
With all this fuss over snowbanks up to your knees, snow on Queen Street sidewalks almost deep enough to cover your fingers, and snow drifts in parking lots almost ankle deep, is it any wonder that the rest of the country thinks that Toronto is one giant wimp? Perhaps the best treatise on this subject hails from last winter, when Rick Mercer covered Toronto’s overreaction to snow in a bit of level-headed commentary masquerading as satire.
None of this is to say that it didn’t snow a lot yesterday, or that there weren’t any problems because of it. Sure it did, and sure there were. But for all the attention they pay to the weather, TV reporters seem to have difficulty moving beyond stating the obvious and performing silly visual stunts. “It’s snowing,” they’ll assure us at the top of each newscast. Really? What else? “It’s snowing a lot.” Tell us more. “Uh, it’s really snowing out there! Look at me, I’m wearing a toque and there’s snow on my head! Can you imagine how much snow there is out here?” Really, is that all you can tell us about this storm, that it’s snowing? “Oh, and traffic is slow, and Cam Woolley says there have been a lot of accidents.” Gee, thanks for that insight. Got any ambulances to chase?
Photo by ~EvidencE~ from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.