Was Irene hyped? Fall short of its billing?
In the last two days I've heard some commentary about Hurricane Irene suggesting that it somehow fell short of expectations; that it was hyped by the news media beyond what was warranted.
So what's going on here? Are the news media at fault for printing (and broadcasting) strong warnings about the dangers posed by the storm? Are the hurricane forecasters at fault for getting something wrong in their forecasts? Did emergency managers overdo their warnings?
Do they all run a danger of somehow "disappointing" people in a way that will make them less responsive to future storm warnings?
Or is it a bigger hazard to life and property if we (forecasters and media) risk underplaying a storm's potential ? Wouldn't that, too, encourage more people to try to stay in place instead of preparing for the worst and getting out if instructed to ?
Finally, was this storm really a dud? It seems like millions of outages, trees down on cars and homes, schools closed, businesses shuttered, historic flooding in New England, estimated damages upwards of $10 billion, and 20 people dead could hardly be deemed anything but awful.
(PHOTO: Irene damage in Connecticut. Bertina Hansen, Hartford Courant)