You know how sometimes the best way to deal with a ranting, screaming maniac is just to leave him alone until he exhausts himself? It's time for us to do that with Weather.com.
Yesterday afternoon, The Weather Channel whipped itself up into such a frenzy over the East Coast's upcoming snowstorm that its website exploded from the inside, vomiting maps, janky mountain graphics, and CAPSLOCKED WEATHER WARNINGS all over its homepage.
While presumably unplanned, this partial crash still helped fulfill the website's primary objective: to send everyone who visits it into a giant, totally unnecessary, frothy panic.
Check out this map that ran on the site yesterday:
"AWARE," it commands. "ACTION." "ALERT." This is a graphic that exists for no reason. What should you do if you're in the "ACTION" zone? Stay indoors? Evacuate? It is of no use to anyone.
Even on its best day, Weather.com is completely cracked out and insane; an Escher-esque labyrinth of autoplay videos, color-coded extreme weather warning banners, and hysterical pleas for cross-platform social media synchronization (LET WEATHER.COM ACCESS YOUR FACEBOOK NOWWWWWWW).
Here is a partial list list of some of the things you can do on Weather.com 365 days a year:
- Watch a countdown to the weekend (measured to the second)
- Watch a countdown to the end of the weekend (once the weekend begins)
- See a tally of the snow that has fallen in the past 24 hours, for all locations (Past 24 hour snow level in Mexico City: "N/A")
- Read a 5-day forecast
- Read a 10-day forecast (separate link)
- Read today's forecast (separate link)
- Read the weather "right now" (separate link)
- Read a weekend forecast (separate link)
- Read a monthly forecast (separate link)
- Personalize your weather.com homepage with your own name (of eight characters or less)
- Receive weather alerts for cities where your friends live (with Facebook sync)
- See a list of weather keywords trending in your area (right now, in Brooklyn: "blizzard," "snow," "snowing")
- read a "Home & Garden" forecast ("WATERING NEEDS: Not Applicable," "FREEZE RISK: High")
And then there's the "Nemo" thing. At the start of this storm season, The Weather Channel announced it would be naming winter storms pretty much just to make it easier to scare people; "WINTER STORM DRACO IS COMING" sounds a lot more terrifying than "a cold front will bring 2 – 3 inches of snow on Thursday." The National Weather Service very huffily refuses to acknowledge these names, but #Nemo has already started trending on Twitter.
One of the brains behind the name list told The New York Times that "Nemo" was chosen primarily because it's a Latin word ("no one") and secondarily because Captain Nemo, from Verne's "Twenty Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea," was a charismatic, deranged madman ("a pretty tough, fierce guy").
In 2013, calling a storm "Nemo" and telling everyone it's not named after the clownfish who lost himself and found our love is like naming your son "Martin Luther King," and telling everyone he's named after Martin Luther King, Sr.
No more, Weather.com. No more from you.
Enter: AccuWeather. Where The Weather Channel is shrill, AccuWeather is chill.
At the time of yesterday's site-wide freak, these were the six scrolling stories on Weather.com's homepage: "HISTORIC, EXTREME SNOW"; "YOU MUST PREPARE NOW"; "HOW MUCH WILL YOU GET"; "HISTORIC SNOW TOTALS"; FLOOD THREAT AHEAD"; "SNOW DROUGHT MAY END"
Meanwhile, what was AccuWeather talking about?
(To be fair, AccuWeather also had a couple panicky headlines like "Crushing Blizzard to Pile Two Feet on Boston." Mostly, though, it's been safety tips and meditations on the environmental impact of rock salt.)
If you don't want to support AccuWeather (they did try and fail to get a shady bill passed that would have privatized weather services except in emergencies—nice one, jerks), try your local news station.
Maybe even bite the bullet and visit NOAA.gov — the national weather website. It's sort of ugly, but 100% ad-free.
Have a better suggestion? Spread your gospel in the comments.
Image by Jim Cooke.