There are very few television meteorologists who weren’t influenced by one or more television meteorologists/weathercasters that they watched when they were growing up. It’s like baseball and football players–everyone can name at least one person who inspired them to do what they do. I am one of those who can rattle off the weather people that I watched from the age of 4. They helped plant the seed. Through my almost two decades of television meteorology, I have been pretty blessed to have had the opportunity to shake the hand of many of those that brought the weather into my home, who inspired and in some cases gave me professional guidance through the years.
One of those passed away yesterday. If you lived in northeastern Oklahoma in the 80s and early 90s, you probably remember watching Gary Shore. Gary passed away suddenly yesterday at an all too young age of 55.
Gary got his undergrad degree at New York University and his master’s at Penn State. He worked in Wichita, Tulsa, Huntsville, Washington D.C., and most recently Sioux City, Iowa.
I watched Gary as a teenager when I was living in far southwestern Missouri. Some of this story will sound dorky, but we’re talking the 1980s when we had Walkmans, not IPODs. Home satellite dishes were the size of a hot tub. Stereo TV was the big push. For around the clock weather information, you didn’t have the “click of a computer mouse”, you had the phone number for time and temperature.
My bedroom was on the second story of our house, and I had this old black and white tv. It was just some cheap little ol’ black and white tv, but man, did it get good reception. Not only did I get the local television stations, but when the atmosphere was just right, I got stations from all around the area. I loved the weather, and I watched all of the weather reports that little black and white tv could bring me. But, when I wanted the forecast–when I knew something was “brewing”, I turned to Gary Shore. It wasn’t easy. I was over a hundred miles away from Tulsa. I would have to sometimes stand there and hold and twist the antenna while watching the weather on this little tv screen. I remember getting frustrated because the signal would fuzz out in the middle of the forecast. As a viewer, it was easy to tell that he knew his stuff. You knew he loved what he was doing. He didn’t hype. And his forecasts were darn accurate.
I had the opportunity to drive to Tulsa and shadow him for a day. I watched him put together his forecast. Again–these were the ’80s…pre-internet. It was a flurry of maps on paper…one after another. Today, most of that is done on a computer screen–it’s easier and more efficient, but almost too sterile sometimes. The end result of his afternoon was a forecast calling for heat and possible severe weather the next day. He was really set that this was the scenario that would play out–going with higher rain chances than one might normally forecast under those circumstances. And he was spot on. That “gut instinct” made an impression on me.
When I got to O.U., one of my good, close friends was from Tulsa. He too was a Gary Shore fan. At that time, you could hear Gary’s forecasts on the AM radio station out of Tulsa. So, when we knew there was a storm coming, we would stop eating our pizza, run out to the car and listen to his forecast inbetween the garbles of static. Even listening to the AM radio in Norman, I could still sense his passion and his “grasp” of the ever changing Oklahoma weather.
Gary Shore was one of those who took the job of television meteorologist to the next level. His work influenced many of us. It is saddening to hear of his passing. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.