The true-crime renaissance has led to a proliferation of podcasts, television shows, movies, and documentaries about real-life lawlessness. As the genre explodes in popularity and scope, more content producers are trying to get in the game. The Weather Channel is the latest outlet attempting this gambit with a new show called "Storm Of Suspicion," which investigates the intersection of meteorology and misdemeanors.
Introducing America to the field of forensic meteorology, the new program will examine criminal investigations in which climate, precipitation, and atmospheric conditions are main factors, according to We Love Weather. In each hour-long episode, Dr. Elizabeth Austin, an expert in reconstructing weather for litigation purposes, will explore a case where information about "temperature, humidity, winds, precipitation, and sun," were used to catch a culprit.
"It’s really a case by case basis," Austin told We Love Weather. "Sometimes it’s something small or all the above. For timing a murder, temperature and humidity and conditions around where the body was found are most important."
"What’s so interesting is how weather plays a role, not just in how the crime is committed, but also how it impacts the crime scene investigation," Austin continued. "Sometimes it’s freezing cold, it’s windy, and the people investigating the crime scene can’t always see. ... [In one case on the show] weather helped catch the criminal after the crime was committed. The criminal was sneaky. Police kept trying to collect his DNA and he wouldn’t drink from cups or lick an envelope they gave him to put a form in. They were tailing him one day and he ends up spitting on the ground. Normally you couldn’t do anything with that, but it had just rained. There were fresh rainwater puddles all around and his spit landed in a puddle. So they were able to scoop it right off the top of the puddle to take his DNA!"
'Storm of Suspicion' is part of The Weather Channel's reinvention as a more narrative-focused enterprise, according to AdWeek.
“We do storytelling, video production, and localization really, really well,” said The Weather Channel senior vice president of digital Marvin Renaud to AdWeek. “We have a ton of engagement, and the relevance of the messaging we’ve done so far has been really successful."
Michael Potts, the Weather Channel's vice president of design, commended the company's efforts.
“[We've been] transforming our presentation from something you might be able to get on your app into presentations that really put [you] in the location. ... [We've also been] working hard [to develop] augmented and immersive mixed reality" experiences, Potts told AdWeek. “We want to make weather personal and relatable to our audience, and our goal is to keep on and double down on the momentum we have had in the last couple of years."
The Weather Channel shared the first official trailer for the show Thursday.
The Weather Channel is just the latest in a recent series of unlikely brands increasingly shifting focus onto true crime. Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz, for example, have both begun to include true-crime content in their programming, with the latter introducing "True Crime Tuesdays" into his schedule. Before that, it was Netflix, HBO, and NPR that had garnered unexpected, massive cult following with programs like "Serial," "The Jinx" and "Making A Murderer." The uptick in true-crime shows has led to an increased critical respect and changes in public perceptions of the genre, according to Quartz legal expert Jake Flanagin.
"True crime has often been defined by half-truths, glamorizations, stretched facts, and insinuations. Today, it’s becoming more about interrogating our criminal justice system and examining our theories on criminality and law enforcement," Flanagin writes.
'Storm of Suspicion' debuts on The Weather Channel on Oct. 7 at 8pm.
Searching for the best true crime podcasts? Subscribe to Martinis & Murder and join hosts Daryn Carp and John Thrasher as they chat about creepy crimes and unsolved mysteries... while sipping on killer drinks from our murderous mixologist Matt the Bartender. Each episode will focus on a new true crime, with all the gory details, and a cocktail recipe to get you through.