Seven thousand lightning strikes in 15 minutes!
I panicked! Where? Where? It took another 15 minutes to find out. Chicago. What a relief to someone who lives in Washington.
But wait. The nation's capital was in for "severe" thunderstorms and a temperature of 97 degrees! If that's not bad enough, there is something called the heat index that makes it even worse, let alone the bone-crushing humidity.
If you have absolutely had it with bad news -- Iraq, Syria, Benghazi, the president's low popularity, Cleveland's trigger-happy police force -- do not switch to The Weather Channel.
The intensity of TWC's weather bunnies makes CNBC's money honeys seem way too laid back. And guess what? There is always bad weather somewhere.
You know you are becoming your parents when you find The Weather Channel mesmerizing. The bad thing, of course, is if you really, desperately need to know what TWC is reporting, you probably have no power. You are off the grid, and it will take two weeks before you get it back. I have been in a hurricane and a tornado and, trust me, two weeks is not just a random period of time I plucked out of the (charged) atmosphere.
If you watch too much of TWC (aka obsessed with Doppler Radar), you begin to feel a sense of anxiety you can't shake. Did you know that 23 percent of New Jerseyites (New Jerseyians?) with property damaged during Hurricane Sandy got no insurance money because of the "anti-concurrent causation clause" in their policies? How can you relax when TWC tells you that?
How are people in Phoenix supposed to go to work when they hear that the temperature will be five degrees above the normal of 112?
One simply cannot think good thoughts when TWC announces, "Do not go outside. Records are being shattered right now."
Even if this is happening in Oregon and you live in Maine, you will either feel uneasy or you will gloat. Until you learn that Maine is soon to have "unprecedented, severe" weather of its own.
And if you live in the Plains states, you are doomed. "Beware massive tornadoes in your area" is now heard daily on TWC.
I am positive TWC's meteorologists are making up brand-new weather terms to keep us confused, worried and riveted.
If your basement is still under water from the last storm, you will be told that your summer is going to be populated by "severe," "scattered" and "occasionally violent" thunderstorms. Of course, they will be of the "record-shattering, ground-saturating" variety.
If you are fortunate enough to have waterfront property, you will hear the F word constantly. (Flooding.) Lots of luck enjoying the view.
Even if you are spared the dust storm, hail, extremely high winds, "wedge tornado" or record-shattering drought of the day, just hearing about it makes you nervous. The thought of having to drive through Nebraska or Kansas or Missouri, let alone being transferred there for work, will keep you awake at night. (The FBI still keeps agents in line by threatening such a fate.)
As if the weather isn't bad enough, TWC's commercials are filled with dire health warnings that will soon convince you that your hair is falling out, your mate's knee replacement was seriously botched, a little white pill (for an ailment you've never heard of but now know you have) may kill you and your bad day is a sign of severe clinical depression.
The other day TWC said that if you are "going to Vegas" and don't drink enough water, "you will die." But, ordered TWC every few minutes, you should go to Florida and see the new life-size Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
We are told by consummate pollsters for The Wall Street Journal and NBC News (NBC owns TWC) that only 41 percent of Americans approve of Obama's job performance and millions of us think the nation is on "the wrong track."
Clearly, this country is far too obsessed with The Weather Channel.
(Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for McClatchy-Tribune.)