Weather Or Not?

February 1997

Forget the economy, Wellington Webb, and the Broncos (please). Night after night, the biggest story on Denver television is the weather. Will I need a jacket tomorrow? Will my kid’s ball game be rained out? The weather affects us more directly than any other news segment.

Across the country, research consistently pegs the weather forecast as the No. 1 reason people watch the local news at 10 p.m. But here in Denver, interest is even higher. The very mountains that give us so many reasons to spend time outside also make our weather especially volatile and difficult to accurately forecast.

So it’s no surprise that the city’s station managers place such an emphasis on their weather teams, investing hundreds of thousands of dollars on equipment, staff, and promotion.

But for all the Accu-This and Doppler-That, what are you really getting? In an age of 24-hour weather channels on cable and direct access to National Weather Service data on the Internet, do you really need to wait until 10 o’clock for a reliable peek at tomorrow’s weather? And if so, does it really matter which station you watch?