Sunday afternoon into Sunday evening proved to be a dangerous time for weather Florida. The National Weather Service had issued a historically rare PDS Alert (potentially dangerous situation). As the first dangerous line of storms rolled into the Tampa market, stations were popping in and out of syndicated network programming to cover the weather.
WTSP continuously dropped in and out of the AFC championship football game on CBS, much to the irritation of some viewers watching the Patriots vs. the Steelers. Those viewers, included one Twitter user across the Bay at WTVT. The following tweet was sent out in response to WTSP’s coverage.
I (Florida News Center) was also watching local storm coverage (all stations) and Twitter at the same time. When I saw this tweet, I thought to myself “did WTVT just call out a competitor for covering dangerous weather, instead of showing a football game?” In response to the tweet above, I replied with the tweet below. The original tweet was removed minutes after.
While weather coverage can often be hyperbolic and designed to highlight new toys and to show off staff/station devotion to coverage, this was a weather event that had been referred to by just about every station as a “once in 12-15 year event,” with the unprecedented PDS declaration by the NWS . The choice to cut into programming, especially something as coveted as sports, is always a tough decision. However, this storm had already killed 12 in south Georgia earlier that morning and areas of rotation and radar indicated tornadatic activity was showing up across the state every minute. I can see the average selfish viewer, that could care less about their fellow man being in harms-way, but to hear a station that has historically devoted itself to the same type of coverage, call out a competitor for their coverage choice was unfathomable.