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Selling the Weather

MON NOV 19 14:39

Weather is now more popular than news, more compelling than drama. It even has its own Oscars to choose the best weather presenters in the world.

How did we become so wild for weather? It all started with a meteorologist named Percy Saltzman—one of the first people to appear on Canadian TV when it went on air back in 1952. His only gadget was a blackboard, but he became the world’s first “Weather Entertainer”. Saltzman’s trademark was to toss his chalk into the air… a small closing flourish that was the start of “Weather Entertainment.” Within a few years, weather was becoming show business in many places. TV weathermen abandoned the dry style of the BBC, and developed a breezier look. Soon there was an upside-down weatherman in Australia and costumed characters like Willard Scott in America… Then cam weather girls, and weathermen who knew more about comedy than meteorology.

The Weather Channel’s ratings soar during any kind of violent weather. In Britain, a climate crazed nation, no one is more obsessed than Pieres Corbyn. The country’s quirkiest weather forecaster, and a man who makes a living betting on bad weather. Corbyn is an eccentric astrophysicist who runs his own weather forecasting business called Weather Action. His office is a maze of weather charts and gadgets that supposedly help predict the weather months in advance—even though that’s supposed to impossible. But lots of people believe in him. His secret method is based on analyzing sun spots over the last 100 years. Whether by skill or by luck, Corbyn has made news several times, including his prediction for 1998 flooding and for a white Christmas in 1999 which helped a friend win 100,000 pounds, while England froze. Weather has become a hot commodity.







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