Flower Show Loses Big $$$ and Blames TV Weather Anchors

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A flower show in Pennsylvania lost a bunch of money and they are putting the blaming on the TV weather anchors for costing them. 

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society usually makes about $1 million in profits from the Philadelphia Flower Show.

But not this year.

The 2013 show actually fell short about $1.2 million. PHS president Drew Becher is now scrambling to cut costs - and to raise $1 million for programs and $200,000 for Flower Show expenses from PHS members and an insurance policy.

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For all this, he blames local TV weather Anchors and their hype for the financial mess. 

With unusual bluntness, Becher accuses them of "hyping up" a major snowstorm during Flower Show week that never materialized - but led to scores of canceled tour buses and visitors, and the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in ticket and merchandise sales.

"It was a snow drumbeat, and it was relentless," Becher said of the weather forecasts that week.

The 2013 show drew 225,000 attendees. That's 17 percent less than 2012 and the lowest total since 2001, even though the show - the PHS's major fund-raiser - was open to the public for an extra day this year.

Representatives of CBS3, 6ABC, NBC10, Fox29, and KYW Radio all declined comment on the record or did not return phone calls. Becher, the Flower Show's cheerleader-in-chief since 2010, exempted newspapers and their websites from criticism because "more people go to other media outlets for weather."

He acknowledges that by speaking out, he risks alienating his "media partners," who vigorously promote the Flower Show every year and "partner" with the PHS at other times, too.

"But they know a snow or a weather event is basically gold on their advertising dollars. People need to realize that what they're saying on air actually causes harm," Becher said, calling the connection "pretty cut-and-dried."

Snow is always a risk during the Flower Show, which dates to 1829 and has been held in March since the 1920s, usually about three weeks before Easter to promote flower sales. It's been locked in to the beginning of the month since 1996, when the venue changed from the Civic Center in West Philadelphia to the Convention Center at 12th and Arch Streets.

This year, the show ran March 2-10, and forecasters began touting the potential for a major snowstorm the weekend it opened. Midweek predictions ranged from two to four inches in Philadelphia and South Jersey and up to eight or more in the western suburbs, with another round to come Friday.

The week's totals were considerably less, with Philadelphia racking up a negligible 0.2 inches and a little rain, and the western suburbs "a few flakes," even less than one might have expected this uneventful winter, according to meteorologist Greg Heavener of the National Weather Service in Mount Holly.

"It was a botched forecast," he acknowledged, including not just TV and radio, but the National Weather Service, all of whom predicted "heavy bands of snow to move across Southeastern Pennsylvania that never materialized."

"Precipitation was light, and temperatures started off a couple degrees warmer than we thought it would be. Both added up to a really, really botched forecast," Heavener said.

But he made a distinction between the federal government's weather operation and local media:

"Our job is to get the information out to the public. We're not a business. We don't make money for our broadcasts. They do. They hype it up for ratings and viewership, and all meteorologists kind of take the blame for it."

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