The majority of weather reports utilise a green-screen in some form or other. Since the mass popularisation of the technology in the ’70s and ’80s it has become the go to for the majority of weather services to use when creating video weather reports. We are all used to the sight of a presenter standing, doing very neutral, calculatedly nonthreatening gestures toward a zooming and pirhouetting map of the country with small graphics of rain clouds or fog or sun pulsating in and out of view. It seems that it has always been thus, and, I’d presumed would always be thus for weather presenters – with the sole exception being Theresa Mannion who is invariably forced to stand amidst whatever weather she’s reporting on – presumably as RTÉ producers believe there to be some quirk when she’s on screen which prevents viewers from simply imagining whatever weather she’s describing and therefore need her to be standing in the thick of things.
Well, alas, with a rapidly changing climate bringing ever more varied and severe weather, it was surely naive to think that our weather reports would not be subject to a commensurate change.
The Weather Channel has heeded this. It has sensed in the air this lust for change and, in a report on the frankly terrifying seeming Hurricane Florence that is about to make landfall in the Carolinas, they have created a weather report so intense and grandiose that one can only assume it was directed by Michael Bay.
Scary as fuck weather report. First it’s like, ah smart use of green screen, then it’s like holy fucking shit. pic.twitter.com/J9SmZqTqVI
— Nooruddean (@BeardedGenius) September 13, 2018
With storm surges from the hurricane expected to potentially reach over 9ft in some areas, the producers of the Weather Channel evidently thought long and hard about how best to convey this to viewers. Clearly, words were not enough; obviously small graphics on a digital map of the Carolinas simply would not do; no, I imagine that they would’ve spat in your face if you were to suggest that anything short of quarantining their presenter on a sort of weird cyber plinth in the middle of a CGI’d suburban street while digitally created floodwaters cascaded around her, rising, buoying up cars in their frothing eddies, bringing shoals of fish to the suburban streets, would do. “But then what would we do with all these weird little CGI’d fishes we’ve paid for our graphics team to make, huh? What then?” I imagine they’d have barked in your face with their hot coffee breath were you to query the presence of the fishes. Thankfully though, for the sake of our collective faces remaining spittle-free, this is exactly the course of action that they’ve taken.
As with all hyperbolic media coverage around such seemingly inevitably traumatic and destructive events, there are obvious questions of taste and tact that such a video will run up against. Given that it is only a matter of time that we are to see actual footage of streets under-water, and cars drifting about as if they were little more than bath toys, caused by this storm, it all seems a bit ill-judged.
Regardless, it begs the question as to how long it is before the brave souls over at Met Éireann attempt such a similar and daring revolution in the presentation of the weather on these shores. I give it about 3 years before – in lieu of what we currently expect of the weather forecast – we are treated nightly to CGI’d footage of Evelyn Cusack wandering about in a sort of quasi-misty carpark saying that it’s ‘hovering around jacket weather, though it’s still slightly too warm for one but at the same time you wouldn’t regret having one with you’. This is the future that awaits us.