"As Weather Becomes Big Story, TV Forecasters Play the Hero"

"ATLANTA — One evening in April, Tina Eller had the television on. Glenn Burns, the steely chief meteorologist for WSB-TV, said a tornado was three minutes away from slamming into her community.

Mr. Burns’s instructions were simple: Take cover.

Ms. Eller, 51, rushed to a closet with her mother, two sisters and four dogs.

'All of the sudden you hear the glass shattering and wood cracking and the trees just rattling,' she said.

Every room in the house was wrecked, except the space that held her family.

'It was that warning we got from him that got us into the closet on time,' she said. 'I never would have lived through it.'

As the nation moves through a year of remarkable floods, drought and its deadliest tornado season in half a century, the broadcast meteorologist has emerged as an unlikely hero.

Increasingly, the weather is becoming a bigger part of the national conversation. As scientists explore the implications of climate change and severe weather’s effect on everything from crops to urban infrastructure, broadcast meteorologists like Mr. Burns are the ones who bring it home every day in eye-popping computer graphics."

Kim Severson reports for the New York Times July 18, 2011.

Source: NY Times, 07/19/2011