If the weatherman has his jacket off, his sleeves rolled up and his necktie loosened, things must be really bad.
An unusual flash point in the coverage of Hurricane Sandy occurred Monday afternoon, hours before the storm made landfall in New Jersey, when Lonnie Quinn, the lead weather anchor on WCBS-TV in New York, appeared on television screens with the sleeves of his blue shirt pushed up to the elbows, his red tie hanging slack, stripes going every which way as if to express his franticness. He was sitting next to the immaculately suited Maurice DuBois.
Viewers quickly grasped the significance.
“Weathermen are acting like such hardos,” wrote @KFCBarstool on Twitter, “sleeves rolled up, ties undone.”
“I feel safe now that Lonnie Quinn has his sleeves rolled up,” wrote @AnthonyDeVito.
As New Yorkers watched the hurricane coverage, at least until many lost power, patterns began to emerge in the fashion of meteorology. The most obvious was that the male meteorologists, especially on the Weather Channel, were determined to show their hard-working shirt sleeves.
Since Hurricane Isaac in August, the Weather Channel has been experimenting with a standard look of just a dress shirt and tie for its male meteorologists, presumably to make its coverage seem more intense. And in a fascinating display of starch and perspiration control, wrinkles never appeared on their shirts over the long hours of coverage, not even in high definition.
L.L. Bean is the “official outerwear provider” to the Weather Channel, so its logo was prominent on shorelines of the East Coast, but the shirt sleeves in the studio sent a more powerful message. At the anchor desk Monday, Todd Santos wore a checked shirt, the cuffs folded back twice.
Outdoors, all those parkas and rain jackets have the unfortunate effect of making serious journalists appear less so, and none looked less professional than the shapeless red jackets on CNN. The image of business reporter Ali Velshi, in a red windbreaker, stumbling pitifully in the Atlantic City rain for hours, made for a memorable contrast with that of Anderson Cooper, who wasn’t having any of that.
Cooper, reporting from Asbury Park alongside Rob Marciano (dressed, like Velshi, in CNN-issued red), was layered up in a spiffy storm jacket from Carhartt.