Cable and satellite viewers had two separate looks at anchors trying to get those who would try to stay behind in the evacuation zones in Florida and Georgia to leave on Thursday.
Meteorologist Bryan Norcross of The Weather Channel, is considered one of the preeminent hurricane specialists in the United States. Norcross has been with The Weather Channel since 2010, and prior to that was meteorologist with local television stations in Miami, and had been called into service by the networks during hurricane events dating back to the 1990s.
Norcross’ marathon coverage for NBC station WTVJ during Hurricane Andrew was carried nationwide and became the only link for many in the outside world to south Florida during that catastrophic event.
Fox News Channel anchor Shepard Smith has been with the network since its launch in 1997, and has provided news coverage of major events from 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina.
Smith’s Fox News program, Shepard Smith Reporting, airs weekdays at 3 p.m. In addition, Smith anchors breaking news events for the network.
As part of Thursday’s coverage of Hurricane Matthew, The Weather Channel aired a video of Norcross imploring Florida viewers who are in the mandatory evacuation area and trying to remain there.
“This is a mistake,” Norcross said. “This is not hype, this is not hyperbole, and I am not kidding. I cannot overstate the danger of this storm.”
Norcross’ message continued, echoing an earlier message from Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
“Do not assume you can survive if you choose to stay,” he said. “Based on everything we know, Matthew will make history. The Weather Channel does not want you to be part of that history.”
Later in the day, on Friday, Smith stood in front of a large map of Florida, and pointed out the storm’s track.
“This moves 20 miles to the west, and you, and everyone you know are dead,” Smith said. “All of you – because you can’t survive it. It’s not possible. Unless you’re very, very lucky.”
Smith paused, and turned back to the map for a moment, then turned back to the camera.
“And your kids die, too.”
After both videos aired, social media comments erupted with commentary relating to the images presented by both commentators. Many felt the comments by Norcross were well-informed while others soundly criticized Smith for his comments.