Imponderables: The tiny TV weather maps


Why do the TV stations put the little tiny maps at the bottom of the screen during weather alerts? Minnesota is a big state and unless you put your nose right on the screen, you can’t tell where the little splotches of red and green are. For many of us, we have a hard time even making out that it appears to be a map of Minnesota

  • Maybe if you live in that area you know it’s you? Beats me. If we made the map bigger, people would complain even louder than they already do.

  • Bob Collins

    Heh… You know when it’s just a single county, it looks like a burned out pixel.

    OTOH, if there’s text scrolling next to a map, I would think the purpose of the miniature map is moot.

    I suppose it would help if we were Rhode Island.

    I can’t imagine what it looks like in Texas.

  • (Bob notes: Apologies to Mitch. This got skimmed off by Moveable Type as spam)

    Bona fides: I’m human interaction designer in real life.

    I suspect that the map, tiny as it is, is supposed to…:

    1) draw attention to the crawl; people tend to tune text out.

    2) give people a *very* cursory indication if their county is involved, so they don’t have to wait for their county to come up in the crawl (which can be time-consuming and frustrating)

    3) give people a visual cue to look for more information if their part of the state has a red or green blotch on it.

    It’s not supposed to tell you “there’s a storm coming up my street”; it’s supposed to make you go “whoah, that looks like it covers me; I gotta listen up”.

  • Carl

    I find the maps more informative than the scrolling county lists, but I certainly don’t want it any bigger. I can quickly get an idea if it’s for my area or not. (Not that any of the Minneapolis stations particularly care if everything outside of the metro gets blown away or not.)

  • Denise Hornbacher

    Though they are small, seeing this warning on certain channels, alerts me to weather issues, and I use that information to access other stations devoted to providing weather information. I appreciate the networks being able to alert us, and still allow us to maintain our chosen viewing.

  • Bob Collins

    I guess I would suggest the maps at the same size but rather than slam the whole state into the small space, divide it into quarters. Kind of like what the weather service does on Channel 17. Might make it easier to determine that the little yellow spec is Clay County.

    BTW, I gotta believe Paul Douglas was climbing the wall yesterday.

  • Alison

    I was in a cabin up north and the TV was about a 12 inch. I had friends though, watching in their Woodbury and Chanhassen McMansions. The little MN maps on the corners of their projection screens that were probably bigger than the TV I was watching. Maybe the stations are encouraging you to buy bigger.