by Pat Dooris
Often at a party, someone will ask me why we report on weather so much and why in the world we stay on the air so long saying the same thing over and over again.
Those same nice people can usually cite several parts of our coverage as examples of what they did or did not like.
I give them all the same answer.
Its your fault.
Yep. Really. Your fault. You keep watching, so we keep reporting!
And thanks, by the way. We 'do' like it when you watch.
Tuesday morning was supposed to be a quick dusting of snow. I was one of the extra crews brought in early in the morning to cover it.
Originally I had a sweet assignment. I'd jump in Sky 8 and report from the helicopter in the unlikely event anything serious happened.
I love Sky 8 assignments. Its generally warm, always dry, you land every three hours or less and you often get to see some incredible stuff from a very unique perspective.
Although for a morning storm---you pay a price.
I was told to meet the chopper crew in Troutdale at 5am. That meant I had to get up around 3:30am to leave my house around 4:15am to get there by 5am with a bit of a buffer for bad weather.
Okay---one problem. I normally get to work at 9am. I dont go to sleep until 11pm most nights. That's sort of late for getting up at 3:30am.
I was terrified I'd sleep through my alarm.
I woke up at 12am and 2am thinking I'd over slept.
Finally 3:30am arrived---and off I went---driving wet---quiet streets.
Then my cell phone rang.
Unfortuantely, the voice from the station explained, it looked like freezing rain would invade our area at any moment---and our pilot, Darren Larson, grounded the chopper for safety reasons.
Ice makes helicopters heavy and that's bad for flying.
Photographer Jim Culp and I grabbed a live truck at the station and began driving south. We'd heard freezing rain had already hit Salem and was making life nasty there.
The station began the morning show without us.
The phone rang again.
You need to find an overpass and get your live signal up, we were told. Conditions are getting worse in Portland and we need to get on the air.
We were near Woodburn and pulled off there.
Welcome to the field reporter's life during continuing coverage on an early morning storm.
Many of us are working on very little sleep (which is why we get so goofy when nothing is happening near us).
Tthe solution of course is to hammer down the coffee.
Which creates a challenge of its own.
Ever tried to find a place to go to the bathroom at six in the morning on a snowy overpass with morning commuters driving past?
Its actually easier at six while its still dark (or so I'm told). Sometimes---any bush in the storm will do.
But almost as soon as we loose feeling in our toes---the sun comes up!
Now its a problem.
"When?" we ask, "are you coming to me for another live shot?"
"Not sure" is the response from the show producer. "Just stand by and be ready."
No place to hide---and producers coming to us live in a seemingly random fashion with no distinct time period inbetween.
Now "that" will make time stand still.
And yet, there are nice side benefits.
I can not count the number of people who honked and waved at us on the Woodburn overpass. They were fantastic and friendly. Only a couple gave us the finger if you know what I mean.
Someone from Denny's sent over a hot cup of coffee---delivered by a customer. Thanks Don!
An hour or so later, the manager of Starbucks showed up with a box of coffee and scones for Jim and I.
Now that's just nice.
We sipped the coffee slowly, though, because of the afore mentioned challenges.
Its another day of endless storm coverage. Makes watching endless coverage from home on a warm, snuggly couch sound pretty good!