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When heat advisories become irresponsible

By Scott Tibbs, August 3, 2011

It is hot outside. Did you know it is hot outside? Well, it is hot outside! In case you don't realize that it is hot outside the moment you walk out your door, the Herald-Times will remind you three times a day if you subscribe to the newspaper's "severe weather alerts" e-mail list.

I am in no way diminishing the importance of alerts like this. It is a good thing to warn people about the dangers of the heat. People can become overheated very quickly and may not even realize they are too hot. It is critical that children, pets and the elderly be protected from this heat. People who leave pets in hot cars during this weather are depraved monsters, and I cannot describe people who leave children in hot cars without using obscenities.

That having been said, the H-T is quickly becoming the boy who cried wolf here. The severe weather alerts are devalued when you get three warnings every day about how hot it is outside when it has been dangerously hot for a couple weeks. I stopped reading the severe weather alerts because I already know it is hot outside and I do not need to be reminded again.

But what happens if there is a severe thunderstorm coming, especially one capable of producing one or more tornadoes? I will not be notified of the impending severe weather because I will delete the severe weather alert without reading it.

Clearly, the H-T needs to modify its approach on these email alerts. One possible solution is to change the subject line on the heat advisories to indicate it is a heat advisory, while reserving the "severe weather alert" line for other inclement weather such as severe thunderstorms, flash flooding or tornadoes. But this is quickly becoming a joke, and the service is too valuable to allow that to happen.