Media try to warn public of storm development

Gainesville TV stations -- including TV20 and Channel 51 -- put the "crawl'' along the bottom of the screen whenever there's an emergency weather situation. Most radio stations in the area break into normal programming with weather bulletins.

But the real difference in media attention has come from The Weather Channel, Letro said, which was laughed at when it was started in 1982. It is now considered a crucial element in providing emergency-weather information.

``The Weather Channel is wonderful,'' Letro said. ``They basically take the information from us and put it on the air.'' And when there's a weather emergency -- such as a hurricane -- the channel limits its normal forecast programming to focus on the emergency.

Letro said getting the information to the media and emergency managers is a relatively simple task thanks to a communication complex that automatically takes information from other weather service centers around the country and sends it out to media, other weather service centers and emergency managers.

``That quick turnaround of information is crucial because it gives the people at the other end more time to do what they have to do,'' he said.

The other method of getting the information out quickly is the weather radio. The radios can do two things -- provide an ongoing forecast for the area it covers and break in whenever a weather emergency occurs.