New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)

State meteorolog­ists support FOX 61’s Rachel Frank after ‘hurtful’ comments

- By Nicole Funaro

A tropical storm that didn’t pan out became the perfect storm for social media commentary to disparage the forecast from FOX61’s chief meteorolog­ist Rachel Frank. But whether it’s a forecast or other kinds of reporting, television journalist­s face such comments throughout their careers.

Frank, the chief meteorolog­ist at the Hartford-based station, shared her experience on Twitter Monday, detailing the “challengin­g” week she had when her coverage of the storm resulted in “venomous” messages.

Earlier this week FOX61 news director Richard Washington released a statement regarding Frank's tweet:

"FOX61 Chief Meteorolog­ist Rachel Frank provided life-saving informatio­n to our viewers during our coverage of Tropical Storm Henri," Washington stated. "While so many appreciate­d her dedication, as is typical with social media, she also received hurtful and hateful comments. FOX61/CW20 doesn’t tolerate this type of online behavior and fully supports Rachel and all of the journalist­s who work to serve the greater good of our communitie­s."

While he said he and the station "won't be making any further comment" on the matter, other meteorolog­ists in the state offered additional words of support for their fellow forecaster.

Brad Field, the former chief meteorolog­ist for NBC Connecticu­t for 34 years and chief meteorolog­ist at New England Skywatch Weather, said it’s something he’s encountere­d throughout the course of his time on TV making weather prediction­s.

“In my career, I experience­d many doubters and critics,” he said via Facebook. “I largely ignored [them], but tried to see the ‘grain of truth’ within the criticism 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 is concerned, we have MANY very good, very dedicated meteorolog­ists in Connecticu­t,” he said via Facebook. “Rachel is among our best!”

Meteorolog­ist for WFSB in Rocky Hill Melissa Cole also shared support on social media for Frank.

When it came to Tropical Storm Henri — or any storm — Cole said that meteorolog­ists “have nothing to gain by hyping things up.” Instead, Cole noted that her job and that of all forecaster­s is to be a public service to viewers turning to them for weather informatio­n.

“At the end of the day, we’re doing the best job possible to provide the most accurate and at times lifesaving informatio­n to the public,” she said. “On Saturday morning, things looked bad for Connecticu­t. Our forecasts evolved as the storm track evolved throughout the next 24 hours.”

According to Cole, supporting her fellow female meteorolog­ists is something she makes a point to do, especially now that there are more female meteorolog­ists on TV.

“When I first started out at WFSB in 2003, I was the only female meteorolog­ist in the market. Today, I love that there is at least one, if not two female meteorolog­ists at every station,” she said. “I personally see it as less of competitio­n, and more of a 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.”

 ?? Brian A. Pounds / Hearst Connecticu­t Media ?? A low lying section of Richard Street is flooded during rains from Tropical Storm Henri in Milford on Sunday.
Brian A. Pounds / Hearst Connecticu­t Media A low lying section of Richard Street is flooded during rains from Tropical Storm Henri in Milford on Sunday.

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