How YouTube And The Weather Channel Have Changed Storm Coverage

Good evening everyone. I recently made an update to the web site regarding Hurricane Felix, which made landfall along the Northern coast of Nicaragua early Tuesday morning, but not before it managed to re-intensify into a Category Five Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Felix had gone through an eyewall replacement cycle on Monday night, and had been degraded to a minimal, but still very powerful Category Four storm with maximum sustained winds of 135 miles per hour, gusts in excess of 160 miles per hour, and a minimum central pressure of 953 millibars, or 28.05 inches of Hg (Mercury). In addition, if you haven’t noticed already, I’ve updated the news section with two more articles including one on Hurricane Dean, and another on Hurricane Flossie in the Eastern Pacific. Finally, I continue finishing up my reading of the book, Killer ‘Cane by Robert Mykle, and I should complete the book tonight.

However, what I wanted to talk about tonight is how the internet and video have combined not only to bring the world closer together, but also provide tremendous storm coverage from those, who are actually experiencing it head on. I’ve been looking at some of the video postings to the Weather Channel’s User Video section, and I saw a number of great postings for both recent hurricanes: Dean and Felix. The Hurricane Dean user video page at the Weather Channel had exactly 120 videos posted from all around the Caribbean and Central America including St. Lucia, St. Kitts, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Belize, and Mexico. The footage I saw particularly from Jamaica was incredible. Video footage from places such as Red Hills outside of Kingston, and Clarendon, were amazing. There was also nice footage from Grand Cayman and Belize as well as great video of wave action along the coast of the Dominican Republic.

I also took a look at some of the footage from Hurricane Felix collected by TWC Weather Warriors. While much of the storm footage is not as vivid, or exciting as Dean’s was since Felix avoided many land areas during its travels through the Caribbean, it was still nice to see folks capturing the storm from such remote places as Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Grenada, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Doing this kind of stuff myself, I can truly appreciate what these people are trying to do. Although I’ve never really been caught up in severe weather such as what has transpired in the Caribbean over the past several weeks, I have captured and documented a number of storms in the New Jersey area over the past few years. Despite the fact that some of these people taking videos of storms take dangerous risks, it is a great thing to be able to capture a news story, which a major hurricane such as Dean and Felix are, and be able to provide it to the news outlets to allow viewers a more intimate look at the story from a native person’s perspective. Sometimes, the local people caught up in these maelstorms, or other news stories such as the Virginia Tech shootings know more about the situation occurring as well as the lay of the land, and can give us the true story of what’s happening.

The combination of the internet with a small video camera, cell phone, or other digital device has changed the media landscape in such a way that anyone can become a news reporter, or cameraman, and bring a major event to homes throughout the world with very little financial cost. One thing that really surprised me in terms of the Dean video is that there was no storm footage from the Yucatan when the storm struck as a Category Five, and the third strongest hurricane to make landfall ever recorded in the Atlantic. Intrigued by what I found at the Weather Channel web site, I decided to move on over to YouTube, and see if I could find more storm footage from both Dean and Felix there. My curiosity was satisifed in that there was plenty of video on Dean hitting the Yucatan including several from Chetumal and Quintana Roo were the storm made its first landfall nearby. One in particular showed footage at the height of the storm as well as photos of the aftermath.

Comparing the two sites, I thought that the footage from the Weather Channel was much better in the sense that it wasn’t from people capturing TV footage on their VCRs, and converting them into stuff to post on YouTube. TWC video coverage was all purely from individuals chasing the storm, and documenting its effects on their area. However, there was plenty more video coverage of the storm damage from the Yucatan on YouTube as supposed to the Weather Channel. Nevertheless, technology has found yet another way to bring weather to your fingertips!