As hurricane mania kicked into high gear over the weekend, NPR's Linda Holmes spent some 14 hours with her eyes glued to The Weather Channel (and if TWC's stellar ratings are any indication, she wasn't alone). What is it about 24-hour storm coverage that viewers find so fascinating? For starters, says Holmes, the steady stream of factoids from TWC's experts soothes storm anxiety by giving viewers an encyclopedic knowledge of storm surges and cold fronts. We're amused by watching TWC's weather nerds' excitement grow as the storm builds, and we harbor at least some sympathy for drenched reporters forced to vamp for hours as they're pummeled by gale-force winds. But nothing beats the possibility of actually being surprised. Here, an excerpt:

You watch a weather reporter out on the beach walking against gusts of wind for one of the same reasons you watch figure skating: The darkest and guiltiest part of your soul is waiting to see a wipeout…

These weather guys report live from wherever they think they can get a good shot, so there are always various odd things going on in the background. People walk by, cars drive by, and it all happens while the reporters are stressing that people absolutely should not be outside. It's basically like watching a wildlife expert talk about how you should never taunt an angry bear while somebody in the background runs across the screen being chased by a grizzly and yelling, "You want the sandwich? You want the sandwich? Come and get it, ha ha ha!"

Read the entire article at NPR.