Belinda Jensen

On any given night, the local news broadcasts will lead with an alarmist story about the classic Minnesota obsession: the weather. We reckon that out-of-town visitors find this strange and leave our state wondering what the hell the big deal is. Truth be told, it's usually nothing. Weather is not news. But try telling that to local meteorologists, who dazzle us with NASA-approved weather probes and baffle us with all sorts of highfalutin prattle about inverted troughs and wall clouds. That's why we prefer to skip the late local news (hey, we've got "socializing" to do) and get the raw feed that begins airing at midnight, the end of Channel 17's broadcast day. If computers could speak (and listen! they can!), they, like the rest of us, would want to talk about the weather. But these weathermatons have no interest in chatter, just the conditions of the moment, delivered in a clipped, eerie monotone. The overnight is breathtaking in its simplicity: The "male" voice, accented (East Indian?) and soothing, trading information with the "female" voice, coolly seductive--a sort of low-pressure duet. And on and on they go, repeating temperatures in Lake Elmo, rainfall readings in Eden Prairie, cloud cover in International Falls. And then there's the map, a Doppler loop, a sort of bas-relief of our fine state emanating from the late-night blue glow. It's all oddly comforting, we tell you, and somehow more human than any of those sky-is-falling talking heads on the other stations.


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