Weather stories in Colorado and Wyoming get no respect

The bane of every city and metro editor at every newspaper in the country is the slow news day. Or worse, the no news day. They’re those days when politicians aren’t saying stupid things, no great issues are being debated, the criminals are taking the day off, there are no major car crashes and no buildings are burning.

It’s those days when city editors face their worst fears: A blank news budget, with a managing editor about to wander over to your desk any minute and ask what you have for the next edition.

That’s when every good editor’s mind turns to — the weather. You can bank on it, the next time you get your newspaper and there seems to be no news in it, you’ll be treated to a story about the weather.

My friend and former colleague at The Daily Sentinel, very capable City Editor Tim Harty, has it tougher than most of his editor buddies. He produces a local news report in a city where the sun shines more than 300 days a year. As much as the Visitor and Convention Bureau loves it, desperate city editors and those of us who simply like stormy weather find Mesa County weather to be boring.

The weather, particularly our weather, is as predictable as, well, the weather.

One might conclude at this point that I had no ideas when I sat down to write this column. Fair enough. I was scratching my head, roving around the Internet, muttering about nothing to write about, when Kathy suggested I write about the weather.

It’s not like the weather in our corner of the world hasn’t been at least a little newsy lately. It’s 2 degrees as I write this and that’s cold for the Banana Belt of western Colorado. It’s been below zero this week, and if the definition of news is that which people are talking about, then this has been a newsy week. Every conversation I’ve had this week has begun with an observation about how cold it is.

We get no respect in the West — at least not when it comes to reporting weather stories. A blizzard of epic proportions here, like, say, the one we had in December of 2009, gets nary a mention on any of the major morning news shows. But a few inches of snow in New York City is a story of international significance.

In Jackson Hole, Wyo., it was 25 below zero this week. I only know that because my daughter lives there and she told me. No way that kind of bone-chilling cold would be reported by a major news organization if it happens in Wyoming. All they know about Wyoming is that it’s one of the big square states before you get to Los Angeles. Cows and bears live there.

But if it’s cold in New York or Washington, you bet we hear about it. In minute detail. We get interviews with every shopper in front of Saks, or every staffer on Capitol Hill, all of whom have braved a little chill to go about their daily routines. While they brave what to us seem to be balmy temperatures of 10 or 15 and a few inches of snow, some of us in the West, if not in Mesa County, wrestle with negative 25 and snow measured in feet.

There is a place to go for real weather news. It’s the Weather Channel, and I’ll admit I’m a closet Weather Channel junkie. I have no idea how many times I’ve seen my daughter and wife roll their eyes when they realize I’m glued to Storm Stories — yet again.

Jim Cantore has my dream job. What I’d give for a Weather Channel jacket. Or a February vacation to the Oregon Coast to watch the storms roll in off the Pacific Ocean, where I could stand on the windy, rainy beach in my Weather Channel parka and pretend I WAS Jim Cantore.

Instead I’ll settle for writing the occasional column about the weather. It’s what we do on slow news days.

Denny Herzog is the retired executive editor of The Daily Sentinel. E-mail him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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