The Weather Channel on Friday defended a meteorologist who was captured bracing against the wind while two people appeared to stroll casually behind him during a report on Hurricane Florence.
The reporter, Mike Seidel, was reporting from Wilmington, N.C., Friday afternoon, where he was shown hunched over and appearing to brace against a strong wind.
In the video, he has one hand cupped to his ear and sways back and forth while reporting on the conditions. There is a blustery wind blowing grass down, and it appears to be coming from behind him.
“We’re in one of these (rain) bands. This is about as nasty as it’s been, we had some bands like this last night, and then the eyewall this morning ...”
As he speaks, the camera zooms out and two people in shorts walk behind him, apparently without any strain or struggle, before the camera zooms back onto Seidel and then cuts to a map.
The clip was roundly criticized on social media as an example of the news media sensationalizing or exaggerating the dangerous conditions of the storm.
“So dramatic! Dude from the weather channel bracing for his life, as 2 dudes just stroll past,” said one Twitter user, whose clip has been viewed more than 17 million times.
“Really? There is no need for this. The wind is not the story here, and everyone knows it because they watched Florence drop in strength before it made landfall,” a Washington Post editorial said regarding the video.
But according to The Weather Channel, there was a logical explanation for the video.
“It’s important to note that the two individuals in the background are walking on concrete, and Mike Seidel is trying to maintain his footing on wet grass, after reporting on-air until 1 a.m. ET this morning and is undoubtedly exhausted,” the network said in a statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
On Twitter, Seidel did not bring up the controversy Saturday afternoon and began posting more storm updates. But commenters were still very much focused on the Wilmington clip — and they were not happy.
It’s not the first time weather reporters have shown a flare for the dramatic.
Look, for instance, at this weather reporter paddling away in Wayne County, N.J. in 2005:
Here’s another reporter braving the elements in Bound Brook, N.J.:
Florence is still a dangerous storm and is linked to at least five deaths so far. It is forecast to crawl through South Carolina into Saturday before turning west and then north across the western Carolinas and toward the Ohio Valley by Monday, according to the National Hurricane Center.