TV Q&A: What’s up with TV weather forecast ‘impact days’?

Q: Recently KDKA-TV joined in on the latest weather gimmick: “first alert weather days.” WTAE offers the equally cringey “impact days.” Why do local stations think this is necessary?

The National Weather Service, a government agency, issues weather advisories, watches and warnings to alert the public to hazardous and disruptive weather events. It is not the job of local news stations to be “issuing” their own type of warnings. If the news would focus on properly presenting the weather advisories issued by the NWS, we wouldn’t need these gimmick days with red flashy graphics. Who’s to say what constitutes an “impact day” anyway? Frigid weather may be impactful for school children, but not for those whose businesses rely on cold weather. Local stations should concentrate on getting their five-day forecasts right and accurately predicting snowfall events and less on issuing their own warnings to the public.

– Tyler, Penn Hills

Rob: Both of these are examples of branding gimmicks, a way to market the weather forecast (with KDKA adopting “First Alert Weather” akin to WPXI’s “Severe Weather Team”) and an attempt to elicit a Pavlovian response from viewers: “An impact day? I better pay attention to this! ”

It never occurred to me that anyone would put it in the same league as a National Weather Service “watch” or “warning” since the phrase each station came up with studiously avoids those words. I’d be bothered more if the stations used “watch” or “warning” because of the confusion that could cause.

What they’re doing is an effort to cut through the clutter that can be read, at best, as a way to give viewers a heads-up, and, at worst, to create an unnecessary sense of urgency.

Q: Why doesn’t Channel 11 weather use the degree icon when showing the temperature? Is this their way of being different?

– Thomas, via email

Rob: According to Channel 11 meteorologist Stephen Cropper, “In an effort to make our weather graphics as clean and easy to understand for those watching on screens of various sizes, we have chosen as a team not to use the degree symbol on a daily basis.”

Q: Why do the girls on the TV news wear sleeveless dresses in winter at the anchor desk?

– Judy, Delmont

Rob: Probably both because sleeveless dresses are in fashion with newscasters to the point some consider them uniform and because these women are inside at the anchor desk under hot studio lights, not outside standing in the cold for a live shot.

Q: I missed getting to see the “Highway to Heaven” movie on Lifetime. Can you please tell me when it will be shown again? I really would love to see it.

– Linda, via email

Rob: The film will get a rerun at 6 pm April 15 on Lifetime.

Q: Will “Godfather of Harlem” be back for a third season? Has it been renewed, canceled or is it in limbo?

– Vince, Monroeville

Rob: Yes, Epix renewed “Godfather of Harlem” for a third season.

During Epix’s recent Television Critics Association presentation at the 2022 virtual winter press tour, Epix President Michael Wright said the second season of “Godfather of Harlem” was the network’s best-performing season of all time and the series broke records for any single titled streams , in a single day, across all of our platforms. ” Production on season three begins in New York this summer so my guess is it will be on air in late 2022 or more likely early 2023.

You can reach TV writer Rob Owen at [email protected] or 412-380-8559. Follow Rob on Twitter or Facebook. Ask TV questions by email or phone. Please include your first name and location.

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