Fans gather to celebrate Weather World's 40th anniversary
Forty years ago today, a 15-minute, weekday evening TV-show called “Weather World” premiered on the public television station that is now WPSU-TV. It features Penn State meteorologists, and some of their students, has won many fans over the decades with its forecasts, features and friendly vibe. And a crowd of them showed up for the show’s recent anniversary party on Penn State’s University Park campus.
“This is a big turnout,” said meteorologist Bill Syrett as he led a tour of Weather World fans to the roof of Walker Building where the weather observation instruments are kept. The rooftop is a cooperative observing site for the National Weather Service, Syrett explained.
“The rain gauge is actually on the roof,” Syrett said. “It’s a college town, and we don’t want any strange fluids getting into our rain gage, so we keep it secure.”
While Syrett kept the tour group on the roof laughing, the rest of the crowd was on the sixth floor of Walker Building, meeting their favorite meteorologists, talking weather and eating Penn State Creamery ice cream, served by meteorology students. The fans had come from all over Pennsylvania.
Husband and wife Ed and Kim Schlimm came from St. Marys.
“We love Weather World,” Kim Schlimm said, laughing. “We watch it every night, or we’ll DVR it if we’re not home.”
“We’ve been watching Weather World for 40 years since the first show came on,” Ed Schlimm said. “And we’ve planted and harvested many crops from their weather forecasts.”
Kim Schlimm said the show’s appeal is not just about the weather and the science.
“And they’re fun to watch. Watching the personalities, watching the students and watching the older generation come back and help. It just makes you think they’re a family and it makes you feel good to watch them.”
Lizz and Frank Kirsch came to the Weather World shindig from Clearfield.
“Well, we have been Weather World fans for as long as I can remember,” Lizz Kirsch said. “We grew up watching it. And we don’t plant our garden without it. We know about when to plant. He knows when to go cover everything up when the frost is coming.”
“I watch the show almost every night,” Frank Kirsch said. He started more than 30 years ago.
Lynn Bruner and her husband, Thomas Frank, came to the celebration from Lock Haven.
“We are dedicated weather nerds,” Bruner admitted. “My husband has been a Weather World fan for all 40 years that it’s been on. And now he’s got me addicted. And I think some of what’s been really neat is that the mix of the ordinary weather forecast --what to expect --but also this learning. And I’m a recently retired professor from Lock Haven University so I’m a lifelong learner. And learning more about weather and about clouds and about climate change is fabulous.”
Bruner added that she and her husband are avid birders.
“And so it’s really important to kind of understand how weather, how fronts -- especially cold fronts and warm fronts – affect migration of birds. And that’s really interesting. And I love cheering on the students on Weather World. And having worked in academia most of my career, it’s just a pleasure.”
But the title of “most devoted Weather World fan” just might go to Jeff Fredericks of Boalsburg.
“I’ve been watching Weather World for decades. In fact, I watch Weather World twice,” he said.
His mother, Anne Fredericks, chimed in with the show’s airtimes.
“5:30 to 5:45 and 5:45 to 6.”
She said the 5:45 p.m. repeat on WPSU-TV is important to catch.
“We just might miss something.”
Anne Fredericks pointed out that the show gives Penn State meteorology students a chance to get real world TV and forecasting experience.
“They’re learning. And so many of them do go off to be on shows we might see. They’re just remarkable people and it’s a remarkable show,” she said. I’m just glad that it’s on.”