Weatherforecast - Comprehensive and colorful

October 15, 2007|By JOEL HUFFER

Everywhere I go, people always seem to be talking about it.

At work ... in the checkout line at the grocery store ... at church.

It seems that people can't get enough information about it.

I'm talking about the weather, of course.

People want to know what Mother Nature is cooking up.

Is tomorrow going to be hot or cold? Is the weekend going to be wet or dry?

Is there snow in the forecast? If so, how much?

I think it's pretty easy to understand this fascination that people have with the weather.

After all, parents want to know how they should dress their children for school.

And folks planning weekend picnics want to know if they need a Plan B.


So, knowing that readers crave their weather information, we saw the merging of The Daily Mail and The Morning Herald as an opportunity to improve our daily weather report.

First and foremost, we decided to change the report from black and white to color. We were among the minority of newspapers nationwide not offering readers a color weather report, and we felt it was important that we do so.

To make that happen, we had to move the weather report from its normal location to a page where we could be guaranteed color every day. We also changed the layout from vertical to horizontal, which we thought was more user-friendly.

Then, we looked at the content.

We started with area cities, where we added Washington County towns Boonsboro, Clear Spring, Smithsburg and Williamsport, as well as Ocean City, Md. You might be wondering why Ocean City is considered local when it's 200 miles from Hagerstown. We decided to include it since many people in this area vacation there.

Next, we looked at national cities. Our former report included Des Moines, Duluth, El Paso, Jacksonville, Juneau and Milwaukee. We dropped them in favor of regional cities Pittsburgh and Richmond, and regional vacation destinations Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, Nags Head and Virginia Beach. For frequent travelers, we added popular airport hubs Houston, New York City, Minneapolis and San Francisco. And since Florida is such a popular vacation spot, we threw Orlando and Tampa into the mix.

To our world cities, we added Paris and Madrid.

The final change we made was to our Hagerstown Almanac statistics. An alert reader called to ask why we listed month-to-date and normal month-to-date precipitation totals, but listed only year-to-date and not normal year-to-date totals.

She said running one without the other wasn't useful to her because she couldn't make a comparison. Without the normal totals, she didn't know if precipitation was above or below normal.

She was right. And our weather report is better for it.

So, if there's something you would like to see that we're not including, give us a call. Or, if you're happy with the changes we've made and would just like to let us know, we'd love to hear that, too.

Joel Huffer is assistant city editor of The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7587 or by e-mail at

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