The Weather Channel has a message for Americans: Puerto Rico is still in crisis.
The popular website of the IBM-owned company on Friday used its entire front page to remind visitors that the situation in Puerto Rico remains dire, exactly one month after Category 4 Hurricane Maria struck the island. Millions of residents remain without power, and many still lack access to clean water.
“AMERICA, THIS IS STILL HAPPENING,”declares the website’s top headline. All the stories on the front page featured stories on the island. The organization also did the same on its mobile app.
Neil Katz, editor-in-chief of weather.com, said the effort was timed to be 30 days since Hurricane Maria struck the island.
“This is an gonging disaster, but for many the news cycle has moved on,” Katz said. “And we just felt it was important to make clear that this disaster has not moved on.”
It’s a strong move from a website that usually provides weather forecasts but has grown more comfortable making bigger political and social points. That has only increased under the presidency of Donald Trump, who has called global warming a “hoax” and whose administration has pushed for funding cuts to climate and weather research.
The Trump administration’s response to Puerto Rico has been woeful, but the Weather Channel’s point on Friday goes beyond that. It’s a reminder that the media has mostly moved on from the story. And it’s out of sight, out of mind for most people.
Katz stressed that The Weather Channel is not about politics but that the site is aggressive in covering weather and climate issues—including the aftermath of major weather events.
“Part of what we do is we’re a utility, and at a very simple level we help people quickly figure out if it’s going to rain. Do I need a coat? How do I plan my day?” Katz said.
“But we’ve always had another level built in, which is to keep people safe in severe weather events. And we think aftermath is just as vital as forecast.”
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