Illinois meteorologist’s ‘Code-Red’ explanation goes viral

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – An Illinois meteorologist is going viral after he explained to viewers that he wasn’t very happy about using the “Code Red” storm alert system implemented by owners of the television station he works for. Joe Crain has a degree in broadcast meteorology from Mississippi State. For the last 15-years, he has been a meteorologist at WICS NewsChannel 20 in Springfield Illinois.

“It’s not the perfect solution because, of course, with Code Red it’s all-inclusive. It doesn’t recognize that not all storms are created equal. On the other hand, the National Weather Service has a severe weather outlook every day. It offers a scale,” said Joe Crain.

Crain references a letter to the editor in Springfield’s State-Journal Register. Victor Edwards writes in part that, “This is something like the boy who cried wolf, or Chicken Little, and what it does is make the viewers skeptical of anything the weather people say when not a single one eventuates.”

The station’s owners, Sinclair Broadcast Group, say that they stand by their decision to use Code Red alerts. A statement sent to the Washington Post says that “We’re glad they [issued a code red]. That afternoon there was significant storm damage in the area including trees falling on homes, downed power lines, and hail storms. Thankfully, residents were adequately warned to prepare.”

Crain’s bio has been removed from the company’s website. It is not clear if he is still working at WICS after the incident.

This is the transcript from the viral video featuring Joe Crain:

“It’s not the perfect solution because, of course, with Code Red it’s all-inclusive. It doesn’t recognize that not all storms are created equal. On the other hand, the National Weather Service has a severe weather outlook every day. It offers a scale. Not only a color-coded scale but on a 1 to 5 scale to show the potential of how frequent the storms will be. Whether isolated or widespread or the intensity of the storms from simply possibility of some damaging winds and some small hail all the way up to a large outbreak of tornadoes and life-threatening situation.

On the other hand, Code Red was created by likely a journalism school graduate. That being said, I’m a journalism school graduate. So, it’s not perfect.

A lot of people are not very happy with this since we’ve implemented it on Storm Team 20. That’s evident by the thousands of comments on social media, letters to the editor, frequent calls to local talk radio shows.

We’ve heard you, and yes we realize you have some very strong and passionate views about it. As far as the Code Red name itself goes, we get that too. I certainly do.

hen you hear Code Red you think, ‘the feces is about to hit the fan.’ We understand your concerns and we want you to know that we take them very seriously.

As far as myself goes, I don’t take myself very seriously, but I do take my job seriously, and my responsibility to the public. We want you to know that it’s not us. This is a corporate initiative, the Code Red Alert. Behind the scenes, many of us have tried to dissuade it, for the last few months, to try something else that’s less controversial to the viewers. It continues to be controversial based on all the social media that continues to this day.

So, keep in mind despite the fact that this facility is owned by a corporation it is still licensed under the authority by the Federal Communications Commission to serve the public interest. You still have a voice, keep those cards and letters coming.”

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