Yeah, news reports say we dodged a bullet. If only we could say the same about the press conferences media coverage of Tropical Storm Hilary. Here’s my take on the failed hurricane known as TS Hilary.
The experts predicted ” Catastrophic and life threatening flooding!” They warned us to shelter in place (where have I heard that before?) because of heavy rainfall and powerful winds!
The reality was anything but.
Words mean things. Used skillfully, words can calm a worried populace. Used exploitively , words can evoke fear , anxiety and worry. Guess which way, politicians and the lapdog media used the slogan , “catastrophic and life-threatening flooding”?
It reminded me much of Covid coverage with the pearl-clutching fear mongering and the constant slogans. Remember “two weeks to flatten the curve,” “social distancing,” “shelter in place,” “safe and effective,” and “stay safe?”
But I digress.
Yes. Baja California suffered the worst of Hilary. High flood waters displaced many residents. Luckily there were few fatalities.
Record rainfall caused street flooding in cities and heavy flooding in the high desert and mountainous areas of California’s Inland Empire.
Rising waters stalled many cars and damaged roads in various areas, but caused no loss of life in Southern California according to news reports. TS Hilary marked the first tropical storm to hit California since 1939. Other than history, my take on TS Hilary was that it differed little from a bad winter storm that’s commonplace in Southern California.
Thank God the damage was relatively minimal when measured against the pearl-clutching news reporting. Most notably ,the predictions of catastrophe from high winds were mostly wrong.
Coverage of the aftermath had to be somewhat of a letdown for the media: standard video of the aforementioned stranded cars, closeups of receding street flooding, property damage from falling trees, and soundbites from affected residents. Again, no different from your average Stormwatch team coverage.
However, there was the novelty of a 5.0 earthquake causing some shakes during the rains, and even that fizzled out. Damage was so minimal viewers watched lives shots where reporters presented breaking news that literally amounted to broken items knocked off store shelves due to the quake.
“But Dex, you have to give the government and the media credit. The message got out and probably saved lives.” Maybe. Certainly the tropical storm of 1939 , otherwise known as the Lash of St Francis did much more damage and caused 48 deaths from 50-60 mph winds, heavy rainfall and flooding.
Another difference between the two storms is residents then, received little warning and little time to prepare. Today , Californians had days to fortify their homes, thanks to the National Weather Service which, established a forecast office for Southern California in the aftermath of the ’39 storm.
I would give credit to the National Weather Service for its early warning systems of dangerous storms, not fear-mongering politicians and media. Call me cynical, but I don’t trust government, nor unquestioningly accept its’ calls about keeping us safe.
Sorry, but Covid killed that trust. I now view politicians’ efforts as CYA’s or as manipulative and calculating toward current power or future political plans. This American now views any state- of -emergency declarations with a discerning eye and not a blind trust that government officials have my best interest at heart.
Anyway, that’s my take on Tropical Storm Hilary. Catastrophic and life threatening? Not this time.