When Tornadoes Touch Down Everywhere …

photo… and sirens are going off and other meteorologists at other stations are using words like “safe place,” “seek shelter” and “get off the road,” it’s nice to see that WFAA has its priorities straight, and gives Dallas what it really needs: Dancing with the Stars.

At this point, tornadoes may have touched down near 75 and Mockingbird. Funnel clouds were sighted (or rotation, at least) in the Park Cities. Storm systems that produced giantish hail are headed toward the Ballpark in Arlington, where thousands of fans sit, waiting for a rain delay to end. And yet, Dancing with the Stars is what WFAA saw fit to air.

I have an e-mail out to the station now, but don’t expect an answer until tomorrow, if at all. But given that Pete Delkus and crew seem to live for this kind of stuff, going so far as to send a member to Joplin, Mo., this week, not following storms that are actually, you know, local, seems weird.

Comments

  • mediawonk

    I’m going to guess that decision was made far above Pete Delkus’ head. And given the backlash on social networks so far tonight, it’s a decision they may be rethinking at this point.

  • wlciii

    Agreed. I always thought “Delkus delivered,” and when things get hairy he’s my go-to man. But tonight I’m forced to get my reports from a stuttering Finfrock and his “5 minute old radar” (leaving me to wonder how I can get up to the minute radar images from wunderground.com but NBC5 is still using technology that looks like it’s from the ’90s)

  • Charm Offensive

    seconded!

  • Bethany Anderson

    I agree mediawonk – I also can’t help but wonder if Troy Dungan had been around, he wouldn’t have told them to get bent.

  • whackedupside

    I was amazed that Channel 8 did this. In a season where tornado activity has been much higher and destructive than normal, Belo was derelict in their duty to inform the community of potential danger.

  • Jb

    I have always watched 8 for news & weather. Ever since I can remeber as a kid. I even like watching Dale Hansen. But when the other stations were on the ball with the weather tonight, (I thought channel 4 was good. Channel 33 was fun for its organic craziness), and I was hearing it get real quiet as Fox 4 said there was a rotation over my house near white rock lake, I decided I can no longer trust Delkus. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who thought that it was at the least, odd, if not irresponsible, that stupid Dancing was on. Good bye channel 8.

  • Ben

    Here is a photo(actually part of a video) I took of the funnel cloud/tornado that went over University Park

    http://img804.imageshack.us/img804/4973/tornado.jpg

    Look in the blue space, left corner.

    Not sure what it hit but there were power flashes somewhere between Caruth Haven and probably Lovers Lane. Green power flashes and big electrical bangs sounds.

    It hit something because there was no wind at all. Zero wind. Maybe it was the DART electrical lines.

    So spooky because you could only see it as the lightning illuminated the background.

    This was the same funnel spotted at Love Field.

  • Julie

    The stations really can’t win in these situations. If they cut to weather, they get pounded by the crazies who would rather sit and watch their Judge Judy or DWTS while a tornado bears down on them. If they stay with regular programming, they get lambasted by the rational people whose lives don’t necessarily revolve around seeing whether Kirstie Alley will fall on her plump behind this week.

  • Columbiasooner

    Finfrock’s radars were so hard to read with all the red and green. His on-air intern was panicked as well. At one point he literally had a thunderbolt coming down right on our house and said a tornado was headed our way. I turned to my wife and said “is that bad?” Nothing against KXAS, but if a storm is coming into the heart of Dallas I really need Delkus delivering.

  • B. L. Powell

    If stations are supposed to operate in the public interest, clearly WFAA station execs abdicated their responsibility in favor of mindless entertainment. Utterly inexcusable.

    Imagine if “Dancing With the Stars” were the last thing you saw before you died…

  • Kim

    I was flabbergasted by the appearance of Dancing with the Stars, too. It was surreal.

  • tinkerbell

    Was astounded at WFAA’s choice. For 22 years, I have turned to them for weather coverage. but, tonight I turned on channel 11. Their coverage was excellent, timely, non- melodramatic. I think I just switched affiliates for good tonight.

  • Doug

    Ditto Jb, channel 8 has always been the go to station for bad weather since i was a kid as well and it was the station i went to tonight and was shocked to see DWTS up instead of weather. Went ahead and turned to 5 and thankfully they were covering it.

  • A. B.

    Jb says is best. I, too, have always turned to channel 8 for weather updates. They seem to have wall-to-wall coverage whenever there is anything going on in the outer reaches of the viewing area, yet a tornado near downtown Dallas can’t push aside DWTS? Unbelievable.

  • John

    I’m sure Channel 8 will say that their decision is based on a contractual obligation to the network to carry DWTS over anything else.

  • FabFranTX

    Channel 5 learned several weeks ago when it pre-empted the end of Celebrity Apprentice, they heard about it and the last several weeks during storms only broke in during commercials. They tried that again last night but alas it got too dangerous for them so I missed the Biggest Loser Finale. My roommate was watching DWTS and I was shocked they were only breaking in during commercials. I understand not wanting to miss the end when they actully announce the winner but during dances from ousted contestants…couldn’t that have been ditched in favor of keeping people safe. Another reason why I don’t watch Channel 8 anyways…very sad.

  • Brent D.

    May is sweeps month.

  • Imissharoldtaft

    Every commercial was nothing but the weather, so no big deal.

  • Mike

    Like many folks I am a satellite television subscriber – great when the NFL season is here but not so great when storms are bearing down on DFW and my signal is lost. I have a terrestrial antenna connected to my TV as well – channel 8 gets a 100% signal while the others have issues dropping out from time to time, particularly when the tree limbs surrounding my house are crazily blowing into my line of sight towards Cedar Hill.

    My point is that not only do I prefer WFAA’s weather coverage, in a storm I NEED their coverage as their signal is the only one I can count on. It was infuriating to hear the hail on my roof and see the radar blowing up all over the metroplex, knowing all the while that WFAA had decided to show a lame TV show. Fox pre-empted the equally vapid Glee and NBC from passed on current flash in the pan The Voice. I’m sure both will be replayed and the world will keep functioning.

    BAD BAD decision WFAA.

  • Until the power went out in my house, I was tuned to Finfrock. I thought he did a pretty solid job.

  • Chris

    Switched to Fox4, and was impressed. They had storm chasers, on the phone, and photo and video of the tornados before anyone else. Also had Max Morgan live at the ballpark. Isn’t there something in WFAA’s license to operate, that they must operate in the publics best interest and safety???

  • Stuart

    The fact that they break away if a snow flurry or sleet pellet falls in the area during the winter, their decision last night was surreal. Boils down to ratings, which everyone knows, but has been confirmed, by the powers that be at WFAA last night. I thought Finfrock did an admirable job (I only wish he would have taken off his coat and rolled his sleeves up to mess with Delkus who must have been having a fit.)

  • Sammy

    I particularly liked the random female voice from off-camera during Finfrock’s telecast.

    After I realized my Glee was going to go away, I kept turning to Channel 8. DWTS. Then I had to turn to 5 (what IS it with the “several minute delay radar?!?) and 4. I forgot about 11.

    During every other station’s telecasts, I kept thinking “Delkus would be doing this better.”

  • Rebecca

    Finfrock was amazing. He was on it! BUT I’d also like to throw in a complaint for my friends in Kaufman county – ALL television coverage became uninterested once this weather left the tri-county area at about 11pm.

  • dave little

    Since most of us don’t have basements or storm cellars does it really matter if we can sit in our homes and watch the big bad weather come get us?

  • Uppercase Matt

    Thank God all you people managed to survive with only 4 local stations giving you full weather coverage. Why on earth would WFAA want to present the same information that is on every other station?

    Somehow I managed to survive with 1500 other people with no information at all, at a show at the Winspear. The only feedback we got was at intermission, when told that we weren’t to leave our seats since there was a storm right over us, and the radar-on-iPhone that everybody checked at intermission. It’s almost like the weather managed to do its thing without hysterical wall-to-wall coverage by every station in town.

  • Elle

    As so many have said, I am positive this was way more than Delkus and probably reaches beyond WFAA. My favorite weather man (Delkus) looked PEEVED when they would come back to him. And I had to wonder if he got direction to leave his sleeves down… I never once saw them rolled up. Makes me wonder too if we have ruined our best indicator of severe weather by all our chatter on social media – especially Twitter.

    I was forced to listen to the blathering on NBC last night instead of the Biggest Loser Finale (which honest-to-God probably would have done more for me than the newscast). Just another experience to solidify my love of WFAA news (in spite of their, apparently, idiotic choices sometimes).

  • Bobby Ewing

    I was following Twitter updates, which were actually pretty helpful, and had CBS11 broadcasting on my laptop. I thought they did a good job overall especially with their team out on the streets. #WFAAFail

  • i thought that the NBC 5 twitter feed was probably the most up to date and informative. kind of a bummer since channel 8 has been my go-to for weather since the dungan days. i love pete delkus and i hope he’s as pissed off about this as the rest of us are.

  • Hupie

    I was so happy WFAA kept Dancing on the air. All the commercials were delkus which was all we needed. I tried to watch channel 5 weather coverage for a bit but got totally confused by their map.

  • We were also mystified by WFAA’s decision to continue broadcasting DWTS, especially considering the station has a long history of disrupting programming for the slightest weather incident. Delkus did look peeved, which may indicate his frustration with whoever made the decision to limit his alerts to commercial breaks. It was utterly ridiculous to see so many tornado warnings scroll across the bottom of the screen while Kirstie Alley strolled across the top. Like so many others, we switched to coverage elsewhere. Couldn’t figure out why Finfrock kept saying his radar was delayed (how useful is that?) and finally landed at CBS11, where the coverage was outstanding. Sorry, Pete, but you can blame your bosses for losing a couple of viewers in Oak Cliff.

  • JB

    @ Uppercase
    I get it. I was watching radar from my phone too. But after some 40 years of loyalty to a NEWS station, that has typically been spot on with regards to weather, a station that has advertised itself as being the one to trust in these matters, …it throws you off when your ‘default’ channel keeps showing some reality cow prancing around while your huddled in your bathtub and a violent storm suddenly gets real real quiet. From my understanding, this was the same storm that went right over Victory Park where 8’s studios are. I mean they didn’t even have to send someone out to a suburb for a live shot, ..THE NEWS LITERALLY CAME TO THEM! I’m sure it was a Money/Contract decision today, but at the time I was wondering to myself, “is this so bad that there is a tornado blowing through downtown and channel 8 studios is on auto pilot and even they can’t tell whats going on like the rest of the stations?” It was a little unnerving to say the least.

  • sitch

    The meteorologists warned us for two days that unusual weather would be hitting Tuesday night. At 8am on Tuesday morning it was listed in banners on WFAA, DMN, and Fox 4 news. As the day progressed, and I watched the 12pm news, same warnings. Why oh why, are people complaining? You were warned. You live in Texas. These things happen. Sirens went off, it was all over TV and the internet in some form. Or let’s do it the old fashined way, did any of you not see the green tinged sky for a full 2 hours before eveything hit? What more do you people want? Sheesh.

  • Bethany Anderson

    The point is, for many people, when the DirecTV goes out, or when the weather gets bad and their antenna doesn’t get the other stations, Channel 8 is still a station you can generally tune in on the old rabbit ears-HD converter combo.

    And, like I said, why would you send reporters and meteorologists to Joplin and Tuscaloosa, but not cover your own area at least as well as your competition?

  • fred

    Oh please, Dallas has had only one major tornado since the mid-1800s. That one was in 1957. Not saying it can’t happen but why such a feeding frenzy?

  • Hey, I haven’t checked the news — did we all survive last night? Someone please tell me!

  • DavidAYates

    What UppercaseMatt said. Yes, that.

  • If any of you watched channel 8 all the way through…Pete was on for more than the commercials…believe me, I did watch it all the way through and Pete was the air many minutes longer than you all are stating…if you were checking so many other channels, just how long did you track Pte and his warnings…plus I received 7 warning calls for our area…we are signed up for those warning calls…there was plenty of warning on WFAA.

  • meddling moderate

    “If any of you watched channel 8 all the way through…”

    No, emergency sirens were blaring in my neighborhood and DWTS was still on as I flipped back to WFAA (my 1st choice for weather info)several times. Finally, I gave up and left it on Fox 4 which was pretty good.

  • i don’t think anyone here has implied that, because of WFAA’s decision, we might not have ever known that there was a storm or what the pretty lights that make noises in the sky were last night.

    it’s just having a preference on who tells you that kind of news. most of us think delkus does it best but were not given that option when someone higher up at abc/wfaa decided we really needed to see kirstie alley dancing more than breaking in to show weather information. i like mexican food and it’s not like if (insert favorite mexican restaurant) shut down, i could never ever find another source of mexican food. but maybe i don’t want to eat at taco bell. maybe i have a discriminating palate. finfrock was kind of the taco bell of breaking weather news last night. that’s all.

  • Corwin P

    Larry Mowry FTW

  • ts

    WFAA needs to get a broadcast version of a DVR. As a satellite owner, at least WFAA’s website radar kept me up to date when the rain knocked out my signal.

  • A. B.

    When our area’s sirens started blaring but Kirstie was still doing the cha cha I turned to my husband and said, “Surely if there were a tornado channel 8 would break in.” We live only a 2 miles or so north of downtown and expected that the station that is located downtown would be covering what was happening outside their front doors. It isn’t that no one knew it was coming, but when you are literally in the eye of the storm you want to know what is happening right where you are. Live TV coverage is usually the best way to find that out, rather than trying to track hashtags on Twitter, staring at a radar on your ipad or trying to remember what they had mentioned on the noon newscast.

  • Jay

    TV’s hurt more than they help. Transitors are the way to go.

  • dave little

    Why isn’t there breaking news that it’s sunny today? Is it okay to come out of my bathtub?

  • Sammy

    What’s doubly funny is all the commercials Channel 8 has been running today about how great their storm coverage was last night…

  • DuckDuckGoose

    I don’t get it. Why be mad at WFAA?

    Switch to 11, 5, 4 etc etc and get the content you need if WFAA is not delivering.

    It’s that simple.

  • Silver144

    “Bethany Anderson @ May 24th, 2011 at 10:00 pm
    I agree mediawonk — I also can’t help but wonder if Troy Dungan had been around, he wouldn’t have told them to get bent.”

    Unfortunately, this is not the first time Channel 8 has done this, and last time it was with Troy at the helm. Many years ago there was an even worse scenario with multiple funnel clouds, enormous hail in Fort Worth breaking out car and building windows at NBC5, and deaths from major flooding in Dallas. David Finfrock was doing a superb job, but it got to the point where you couldn’t get reception from Ft. Worth. And from what I remember, Channel 8 was broadcasting a sitcom. It very well may not have been Troy’s fault, but I was furious with WFAA. And wrote to tell them so.