Networks ramp up coverage as Ian prepares to hit Florida

News of Hurricane Ian’s landfall in Florida has sent the country’s cable and broadcast networks into extended storm coverage mode.

NBC, NBC News Now and MSNBC are all using a variation of the longtime hurricane coverage look seen across multiple NBCUniversal-owned properties featuring red hurricane warning flags, the meteorological symbol for hurricanes and a stormy teal-blue background along with a space for updating the storm name and status.

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MSNBC had teams both on the ground and in-studio. When in-studio, video walls could be used to showcase “Storm Center” branding along with a collage of weather maps and graphics matching the overall hurricane look.

This look was created in both Washington, D.C. and New York for “MSNBC Reports” branded hours.

CNN also used a variation of the hurricane look it’s used for years.

The network, like most on cable and streaming, inserted an additional bar of information along the bottom of the screen with current stats of the storm. There was also the option to insert a radar loop or other maps.

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Fox smartly co-branded its coverage with its streaming Fox Weather offering’s logos, billing coverage as a “Fox Weather Hurricane Alert.”

The banner “Tracking Ian” was used in stingers and other locations with a stormy graphic that, like NBCU, uses the hurricane flag, but with a decidedly more red, white and blue color scheme.

Coverage could feature multiple boxes, with the normal on-air feed in the largest along with a sidebar of key facts that rotated frequently. The network could also add an additional box to the right of its normal lower thirds for even more data.

NewsNation pre-empted repeats of network dramas for continuing coverage of the storm, including Marni Hughes and Leland Vittert at the desk, somewhat oddly sitting in front of still images of Chicago’s skyline with blue skies and nothing Ian-related, despite the fact the set is outfitted with numerous seamless video walls that could have made switching out backgrounds easy.

Meteorologist Gerard Jebaily and weather producer Dax Clark were on hand to provide detailed weather coverage.

The network did feature a small “Tracking Ian” graphic in the lower corner of the screen where show and franchise logos frequently appear. It featured two red flags along with a monochrome image of palm trees being pummeled by wind. The network also inserted maps above this box.

CBS used the tagline “Tracking the Storm” on “CBS Mornings” that featured a white oversized CBS eye with the image of a palm tree in the middle of the eye and rough waters elsewhere. Imagery of stormy skies and tree being belted by wind were shown in blue and red in the LED ribbons around the top of the set.

On ABC, “Good Morning America” used the branding “Hurricane Ivan: State of Emergency” that the network had previously introduced (ABC tends to be the most wordy of the networks when branding major stories).

The network’s Ian logo uses the boxed-in look it often used, but thanks to there only be three letters in Ian’s name, the lockup features some awkward empty space on either side of the name.

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The look could also be shortened to just “Hurricane Ian” perched above lower third bars, such as on the ABC News Live streamer. 

As the storm continues to bear down on Florida, it’s likely networks will continue coverage and continue to evolve their looks.

So far, “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt and “CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell are both confirmed to be on the ground near the storm and will presumably anchor their evening newscasts from somewhere in the region.

Holt was seen holding down coverage on NBC News Now, while O’Donnell appeared on “The Talk” with updates.

ABC World News Tonight” anchor David Muir was still in New York as of the morning of Sept. 28, 2022, but those plans could change.

All major networks do have teams stationed across Florida and other locations covering the storm.

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