There was major weather-related news that came up recently, and it was about $125 million lawsuit against The Weather Channel, according to BBC News. There was more to the lawsuit itself.
First of all, three storm chasers were killed in a collision in Spur, Texas on March 28, 2017. Two of them, Mr. Williamson and Mr. Yarnall, were affiliated with The Weather Channel, and the third chaser, Mr. Jaeger, in a separate vehicle was a storm spotter who was reporting to the National Weather Service at that time.
In NPR News article, Williamson and Yarnall were live-streaming their pursuit of a tornado near Spur for TWC Facebook page when they through stop sign at roughly 70 mph and crashed into Jaeger’s vehicle. At that time, Jaeger was relocating to maintain a safe distance from the tornado.
Afterwards, Jaeger’s mother filed the lawsuit against TWC over her son’s death and pointed out that Williamson and Yarnall were at fault for the crash. It was revealed that other storm chasers informed TWC about Storm Wranglers stars’ driving behaviors, but the TWC had not done anything to handle the situation, according to The New York Times.
The lawyer representing the mother pointed out that Williamson and Yarnall were chicken farmers and cattle ranchers, and the pair had no experience with meteorology. Also, the review of video they filmed showed various traffic violations, including driving at 90 mph to pursue a storm.
The main issue, according to lawsuit, was the TWC had not done anything to handle the reckless behaviors when other storm chasers informed TWC about dangerous driving. In my opinion, the behaviors should have been addressed, or have more competent and experienced chasers star in the show instead and allowed them to use their judgment for safety and driving.
There was another aspect of lawsuit that wasn’t talked much in media but was documented, and it’s bit troublesome. A member of StormTrack, online chasing community, had posted documents from lawsuit alleging that the TWC told the other storm chasers who arrived on scene and attempted to revive Williamson by giving him CPR to grab the camera, potentially destroying the evidence. That was when the chasers realized that something was fishy about the overall situation.
Growing up watching TWC, I honestly wasn’t happy about the situation, and I felt that the TWC deserved the lawsuit for not listening to chasers’ concerns about behaviors and handling it in the first place. I loved some of shows from TWC, but I never saw Storm Wranglers myself. I do enjoy reading their interesting articles and stories, but this situation overall is going to leave a bad spot on TWC’s records. Onward, I hope that TWC addresses the issue and improve for better. That’s coming from a longtime fan of the channel. I joined for storm chasing twice last summer, and it was fun and enjoyable. However, I do not condone any reckless driving, especially in storm chasing.
I am a trained storm spotter and I spent years studying meteorology in my free times. Those blogs reflect my opinions on weather-related topics with some light humor and commentaries.