After CT meteorologist receives post-Henri slurs, others say they’re no strangers to harsh words


But it created the perfect storm for social media users to denigrate the forecast from Connecticut meteorologist Rachel Frank, who said she received “venomous” comments on her coverage of the storm for Hartford-based FOX61 from the share of viewers who insulted his looks and intelligence.

Frank’s “difficult” week sounded familiar to fellow meteorologists and TV reporters in Connecticut. When Ashley Baylor saw Frank’s tweet, she said she reached out to Frank to offer her support.

“I reached out to Rachel right after her message,” said Baylor, a meteorologist at WTNH in New Haven. “I invited her to lunch on Tuesday just to talk and forget what happened… Many of us have been there – we know what it’s like to receive hate messages after a forecast did not fully materialize.”

There are multiple forecasts available to the public these days, Baylor said, further complicating weather forecasts and their perceived accuracy by the public.

“Unfortunately, with computer models becoming readily available, all of these armchair (social) MEDIAorologists have entered the scene in recent years with their OWN public predictions, even though they have no degree or certification,” she said. in an email. “Not only do they post their own predictions, but often I see them go for worst-case scenarios to get the pageviews. It’s beyond frustrating. I don’t like having to talk to people from a ledge because they are afraid of something they saw on the page of such.

Brad Field, the former chief meteorologist for NBC Connecticut for 34 years and current chief meteorologist at New England Skywatch Weather, said it was something he had encountered throughout his time on television to make weather forecasts.

“In my career, I have encountered many skeptics and critics,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “I largely ignored [them]but I tried to see the “grain of truth” in the review and grow from that.

So when he saw Frank’s tweet about the “venomous” comments she received, he offered words of encouragement to a fellow Connecticut meteorologist.

“As far as Rachel, we have a LOT of very good, very dedicated meteorologists in Connecticut,” he said via Facebook. “Rachel is among our best!”

Meteorologist Melissa Cole works for the WFSB, based in Rocky Hill, Connecticut.

Melissa Cole/Contributing Photo

WFSB Rocky Hill meteorologist Melissa Cole also shared her support on social media for Frank.

Regarding Tropical Storm Henri – or any storm – Cole said meteorologists “have nothing to gain by making the buzz”.

“At the end of the day, we do the best job possible to provide the public with the most accurate and sometimes life-saving information,” she said. “Saturday morning things looked bad for Connecticut. Our forecast evolved as the storm’s track evolved over the next 24 hours.

Meteorologists are “constant targets of criticism across the country,” according to Baylor, and while she noted she’s been “very lucky” with the comments she’s received from viewers, she’s not foreign to critical comments.

“I can’t even tell you the number of times someone said [or] wrote, ‘Meteorologist – the only job you get paid to be wrong,'” she said. “After the Henry cover, I had a lot of support, but unfortunately it’s the troll comments that stand out. I asked a guy to write, ‘I should have been a meteorologist.’ love people who say that – there’s the underlying tone that we’re being paid to be wrong.

Ashley Baylor is a meteorologist for the New Haven-Conn-based television station WTNH.

Ashley Baylor is a meteorologist for the New Haven-Conn-based television station WTNH.

Ashley Baylor / Contributing photo

Cole said she makes it a point to support her fellow female meteorologists, especially now that many of them are on TV.

“When I started at WFSB in 2003, I was the only female meteorologist on the market. Today, I like the fact that there is at least one, if not two female meteorologists at every station,” said she said. “I personally see it as less competition and more camaraderie – women supporting women, especially in the STEM field. I love following them all on social media and often like or comment on their posts.

Cole is also no stranger to receiving statements like the ones Frank received after Henri. During his first weekend on the air in Connecticut, Cole said several people emailed him saying, “I don’t blame you, but I just don’t like that a woman makes the weather.”

Knowing there hadn’t been a female forecaster in the market for “a while” before her arrival, Cole said feedback was hard to take.

“I remember feeling overwhelmed and even challenged at times, but I just kept showing up and doing the best I could,” she said. “About six months into labor, some of these emails actually reached out to apologize for their remarks.”

FOX61 News Director Richard Washington said in a statement that Frank “provided vital information to our viewers during our coverage of Tropical Storm Henri.

“While so many people appreciated her dedication, as is often the case with social media, she also received hurtful and hateful comments,” he wrote. “FOX61/CW20 does not condone this type of online behavior and fully supports Rachel and all journalists working for the greater good of our communities.”

While he said he and the station “won’t comment further” on the matter, state meteorologists offered additional words of support for their fellow forecaster – and those looking to get started on the ground.

Cole said she was trying to focus on the kind comments she was getting.

“My skin has thickened over the years, despite the rise of social media and the easy ability to type in a comment and hit send,” she said. “But for every negative comment, there seem to be a hundred good ones, so I try to focus on that instead.”

Field said he advises up-and-coming forecasters to pause before responding to naysayers.

“Listen, but don’t react immediately – once you send, it’s there for eternity,” he said. “I always tried to convince my detractors and in many cases I did.”

While it’s “not as easy or as glamorous as people think,” Baylor said she and fellow TV meteorologists love what they do, and she urged would-be meteorologists not to fall for criticism.

“You can’t chase them all, and a lot of times they’re looking to fight – you’re going to drive yourself crazy,” she said. “Real viewers and fans will support you and support you when someone steps out of line. Persevere and stay excellent.


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