In rush to cover storm, national media got lots wrong, but stay vigilant regardless

Published 7:35 pm Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Last weekend, Hurricane Barry caused a lot of commotion.

That commotion, however, was more about the forecasts and coverage of the storm than any commotion caused by the storm.

Forecasters had been focused on the storm as it churned in the Gulf and projected it would come ashore somewhere between the Mississippi and Texas coasts bringing with it torrential downpours of up to 2 feet as the slow-moving storm sat on the area.

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Well, when Barry finally came ashore at Intracoastal, Louisiana, on Saturday it did not unload as much rain as expected and storm crews for television networks struggled to tell the story.

First, national reports by The Washington Post that residents of New Orleans were fleeing and causing traffic jams made New Orleans residents angry as they said the reports were inaccurate.

Then, a Saturday night report by a Weather Channel reporter live from Natchez Under the Hill claimed the storm had caused the Mississippi River to swell beyond its banks.

The shot focused on a portion of Silver Street that has been underwater for months due to historic flood levels of the Mississippi River.

As any resident of the Miss-Lou could tell you, those flood levels had nothing to do with the storm.

In Vicksburg, a Weather Channel graphic referred to the city as Vicksburg, La.

Some local residents saw the report as an attempt to deceive the public and still others claim it hurt their businesses.

While we sympathize with business owners and do not doubt that the overall media rush to cover Hurricane Barry led to a diminishment of business, we think they give too much credit to the Weather Channel reporter.

We also would like to believe the Weather Channel reporter simply mistakenly believed the flooding was a product of the storm as she is not from the area and more than likely made a bad leap in her logic.

In the end, however, we’d rather have the storm of controversy caused by the inaccurate news report than actual storm damage.

We just hope that such reporting doesn’t make people doubt the news when a real detrimental storm is coming our way.

— The Natchez Democrat