When weather gets rough, it’s news. Sure, a downed tree is sometimes overblown. But severe weather deserves blowout treatment. Problem is, weather makes logistics rough. The story may be good, but it may also be impossible to get on the air.
The result may be a classic crapshoot. Stay put in the rough weather, and you may be able to deliver compelling live coverage. But the weather could prevent you from getting it on TV at all.
Sunday night, photog John Duffy and I found ourselves in an epic rainstorm. We were in Paulding County. It poured for three straight hours. Paulding County had already had some flooding issues. This rain wasn’t helping.
We shot some minor flooding and did a quick live shot at 6.
Then we got lucky. We stopped at a restaurant to ask the manager about the absence of business over the previous rain-soaked week. As we shot, rain started to seep into the restaurant from the parking lot. So began the flooding that socked Georgia for the next two days.
It was 8pm. The thunderstorm raged. With its 40 foot mast, our microwave truck couldn’t deliver a live shot under those circumstances. We had a 10pm deadline.
Should we stay? The story was just beginning to develop. We could continue to shoot. If the storms broke, we’d be able to raise the mast and pop up a shot.
But if the storms didn’t break, we’d be doing phoners. Nobody wanted that. So we left Paulding County at 8:15pm.
En route back to WXIA, we drove up to a flooded spot on US 278. There was a civilian car and a sheriff’s cruiser stuck in the water. We shot it and talked to a cop. It was a second stroke of luck.
As we drove back, Duffy said: “So– you wanted to get back into TV, eh?” He’d said it about a half dozen times during the shift. Duffy’s a laugh riot.
When I offered to fetch the truck (a gesture to keep the gear somewhat dry), he shot my mad sprint.
We arrived in the newsroom, soaked, at 9:30 and got the pictures and story on WATL’s 10pm newscast. The rain hadn’t let up.
On a competing station, they were doing phoners.