Paul Goodloe of The Weather Channel gets real about hurricane coverage

The Weather Channel veteran says you will never see the network pulling dangerous stunts for TV.

While some of us were distracted by a political storm known as the 2020 presidential election, parts of the country battled the aftermath of a treacherous threat: Hurricane Zeta.

Paul Goodloe is one of those people. The meteorologist has been at The Weather Channel for over 20 years and has covered some of today’s most severe and record-breaking natural disasters.

Read More: Hurricane Zeta speeds toward a storm-weary Louisiana

Paul Goodloe (Photo: Weather Group)

On a warm Election Day from Atlanta, Georgia, Goodloe spoke with theGrio by phone. The weather veteran touched on how natural disasters like Hurricane Zeta impact Black communities, how The Weather Channel’s coverage stands out from your local news station, and why he takes time to respond to his detractors online.

“I’m a fan of if you don’t vote don’t complain,” says Goodloe who says the weather can play a part in voter turnout, and he is right. Research shows that it doesn’t matter which side you are on but the weather makes a difference in how folks show up to the polls. There must have been something in the air (especially in Atlanta) because voters flooded the polls on Nov. 3 and ultimately broke records.

But just days before voters made it to the polls Mother Nature was not on our side. On Oct. 28 Hurricane Zeta, the category 2 storm, hit landfall in Louisiana. The storm produced massive rainfall and packed winds as high as 110 mph. Zeta was the 11th tropical storm to hit the country this year and Goodloe was reporting live, in the thick of it.

Debris is piled up in front of Lehmann’s Bar after Hurricane Zeta on October 29, 2020 in Chalmette, Louisiana. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

“I’ve been sent to New Orleans three different times,” says Goodloe. “I’ve been sent there in different seasons but never have I been sent there so many times in one single Hurricane season.”

And Hurricane Zeta left a mark. Over 2.1 million people were left without power, buildings were destroyed, there was a broken levee and, unfortunately, six people lost their lives.

Read More: Delta adds insult to injury in hurricane-ravaged Louisiana

Goodloe says hurricanes like Zeta impact Black and poor communities in a different way. “In some white communities they are worried about their beach front homes, their second homes, their well insured homes,” says Goodloe. “Versus Black communities you have people who say ‘this is it,’ and they are kind of out of luck afterward.”

Goodloe goes to add that in Black communities their mindset surrounding the hurricane experience is also different.

“They know there is more at stake but there is less desperation, I find when I talk to people of Black communities, they know it is an act of God and Mother Nature doing its thing,” says the meteorologist. “Versus ‘we should be able to control this’” as he laughs and said, “I’ve gotten that a few times.”

If you’ve ever caught Goodloe on The Weather Channel then you know he gets down and dirty in the most vicious elements, but in a responsible way. He says what makes his network stand apart from others is that they send out meteorologists, not reporters and you won’t catch them parading in dangerous floodwaters.

“You will never see me walking in a lot of floodwaters,” he says.

Goodloe says he will only go about ankle deep because one, they are instructing viewers to stay out of the water, and two, what’s in the water is stomach-churning. “There [are] chemicals from oil, fecal matter, sewage, all kinds of animals, and fire arts,” he says. He adds the pesky critters can survive floodwaters and are looking for anything to cling on too. Goodloe promises you will never see anyone from The Weather Channel in chest-deep flood water because it simply isn’t safe.

But despite Goodloe’s tenure, there are some social media critics who say he is exaggerating the severity of storms. Goodloe became the headline when viewers accused him of performing while covering Hurricane Zeta. They say he was struggling to stand in high winds as others strolled by.

But Goodloe isn’t afraid to clap back at his haters. He doesn’t spend too much time addressing them but says it’s frustrating that people will believe everything they see on the internet.

“You have to take social media for what it is, it’s a lot of people trying to be sensational.” He encourages folks to consider the full picture before they judge an entire situation from a quick clip.

“Anybody can take a snippet and assume but put it in context with the entire day I’ve been out there.”

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