It isn’t often that weather forecasters dwell on the past, but the continuing weather-related crisis in Puerto Rico represents an exception to this rule, as the impacts of Hurricane Maria are still felt.
One month after the devastating storm swept over the American territory in the Caribbean, Weather.com, the Web portal of The Weather Channel, took the unusual step of devoting all its editorial resources to highlighting the lingering effects of Maria on the island.
For 24 hours, from 7 a.m. on October 20 to 7 a.m. on October 21, both Weather.com and The Weather Channel app focused exclusively on editorial features documenting current conditions and the enormous amount of work still required to return Puerto Rico to relative normality.
The wall-to-wall coverage included articles, video and op-ed pieces, as well as links to donate to disaster response on the island. The editorial approach leaves little doubt about the seriousness of the situation.
On Friday afternoon, the Weather.com main page carried a banner headline stating simply: “America This Is Still Happening.” As the article notes, weeks after the hurricane hit Puerto Rico, 3 million of the island’s inhabitants are without power. Even more alarming, 1 million still don’t have potable water.
Another article on the Weather.com main page reported on shortcomings in disaster-response management, including the fact that the U.S. Navy’s hospital ship, Comfort, has hardly been used. According to various accounts, too few people know about the ship and the bureaucratic process for getting someone aboard is too lengthy, although a pregnant woman gave birth on the ship.
Although retrospectives are rare, The Weather Channel and Weather.com aren’t shy about going all in on major events as they happen — even if their classification as “weather” is somewhat debatable.
In August, the Weather Channel, part of The Weather Company, which is owned by IBM Company, teamed up with Twitter on Aug. 21 for joint live streaming coverage dubbed “Chasing Eclipse 2017.”
According to the Weather Channel, its digital properties racked up 12 million total eclipse views, including 8 million via video-on-demand, and 4 million on the dedicated “Chasing Eclipse 2017” microsite with Twitter.