The Weather Channel is in town

I caught a lot of television reports Sunday from Mystic Seaport on the Weather Channel, even before there was much weather going on around here.

And when I tuned in Monday morning to see Weather Channel reporter Reynolds Wolf standing on the beach behind the Mystic YMCA, I decided to go and say hello. After all, how often does the Weather Channel come to town?

I caught up with Wolf and the rest of his crew just as they were finishing up one of the national updates on Mystic weather, which at that hour, was still fairly calm.

"We will be here for the duration," said Wolf, who normally works out of the channel's offices in Atlanta.

By "we" he meant a crew of about 10 people, working from a small fleet of cars and a satellite truck parked in the YMCA parking lot. They were planning to pretty much stay on duty in this part of Connecticut around the clock through the storm.

But producer Laura Kurinsky said Monday morning they were not sure exactly where the team would eventually hunker down for when the storm hits hardest.

She said they wanted to find a building somewhere close to the water. After all, she said, they wanted to be able to film the storm up close. But they also have people and equipment to keep safe.

I suggested downtown New London, but she said that was too far to move her team.

After I suggested Stonington Borough, usually a pretty good place to see a lot of weather, Kurinsky starting texting someone on her advance crew to drive over and check it out.

By the time I left the control room of the satellite truck, Kurinsky was calling up maps of Stonington Borough on her laptop. The riverside parking lot at the Mystic YMCA, after all, was already beginning to look a little precarious, with the tide creeping up over the sand toward the pavement.

I asked Wolf whether, in all his on-camera coverage of big weather events, he ever got cold feet about stepping into the brunt of it.

"No," he said, "it's what we do."

What was his most memorable weather event?

"I was 10,000 feet up in the Sierra Nevada mountains during a blizzard," he said. "It was a whiteout. That was something."

How about hurricanes?

Well, Ike was memorable, he said. But his most remarkable coverage was in reporting on the eye wall of Hurricane Dolly passing by in 2008.

Because Sandy is so big, the Weather Channel has dispatched teams all over the East Coast. Like the one in Connecticut, they are mixture of cobbled-together staff and equipment, much of it assembled with the channel's association with NBC.

The satellite command truck in Mystic over the weekend, for instance, was sent from Boston. Kurinsky is a news producer with NBC in New York. It was a natural for her to be sent here this week, she said.

"After all," she said. "This is news."

This is the opinion of David Collins


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