Why are weathermen and (weatherwomen) bloopers so relatable? Because on any given day, at any time of year, someone, somewhere, is experiencing crazy weather. Meteorologists are the number-one authority when we determine what to wear, where to go, and how to deal with our day. There are lots of benefits to pursuing a career in meteorology: ThoughtCo points out that weather is not just a "conversation starter" but is also never-ending. Forecasting the weather actually serves the public, since we rely on our local news and weather channels to tell us what to expect in the way of storms, snow, heat, and other important conditions that can affect our lives.
For extra excitement, meteorologists are usually in the thick of things, reporting on and experiencing weather events themselves. That means there is an inherent danger in reporting the weather live and onsite, and sometimes even in the studio. A Washington Post editorial in 2018 even wondered if the "television industry taking unnecessary risks by placing reporters in harm’s way." Even so, noted CNN reporter Jeanne Moos, these often-underestimated soldiers of storms are willing to risk their lives to at least some degree. And sometimes, even studio weather broadcasts can range from tricky to dangerous, or sometimes even funny. Here are some notable wild weatherman moments that we just can’t stop watching.
A stolen car, a rescued surfer, and a dead body
What do these things have to do with weather, you ask? Absolutely nothing, unless you’re Australian weatherman Luke Bradnam. It’s been a wild past few months for Bradnam: In November 2020, his pickup truck was stolen as he reported live on television. Bradnam noticed three youths hopping into his truck, which went into reverse and backed right toward him. "Me car!" he exclaimed as he ran up to the vehicle. Bradnam had, in fact, just spoken with the boys right before they stole the truck. Thankfully, the teens were later caught and arrested. But Bradnam’s series of strange events continued.
On January 6, 2021, Bradnam actually had the day off, according to 9 News, when he heard a distress call from his boat. A surfer had whacked his head on the "seaway rockwall" and was knocked unconscious. Bradnam arrived at the scene to assist, going for oxygen as an ambulance was called. Then, barely a month later on February 8, Bradnam had just finished giving his report when he noticed two swimmers in trouble, according to Meaww. The weatherman quickly shucked his shirt and dove in to help, but this time, one of the swimmers was actually the body of Jake Jacobs, who had been missing since the night before. As the camera rolled, Bradnam assisted in getting Jacobs’ body before reporting on the incident. Someone give this man an award!
Storm adventures in the studio
Tupelo, Mississippi, weatherman Matt Laubhan, a reporter for WTVA since 2011, holds the honor as "Northeast Mississippi’s first Certified Broadcast Meteorologist." In fact, he and his team are so good at what they do that they have earned five Emmy awards out of a dozen nominations. The recognition is well-deserved: In 2014, Laubhan refused to leave the studio until the last minute as a tornado bore down on Tupelo. Similarly, during another tornado in 2018, a transformer caught fire, knocking out power and cable television in the studio. Laubhan and the staff headed for safety, but the mighty meteorologist managed to continue broadcasting from Facebook via his laptop.
When yet another tornado threatened WTVA in 2019, there were at least a few moments of comic relief that were funny enough to merit airing on Jimmy Kimmel Live. In the clip, Laubhan not only pointed out the tornado as being near the veterinarian where "my cat died last week" but also had an issue with someone off-screen, identified as "John." "John, John, I need you off the phone," he barked and later snapped his fingers and clapped his hands to get John’s attention. Laubhan also took John to task for the possibility that a tornado could have formed while they didn’t have radar data. "John might want to post his résumé on LinkedIn right now," quipped Kimmel. The Comeback surmised that "John" was fellow meteorologist John Dolusic, who is indeed still with WTVA.
Garry Frank, the Grumpy Weatherman
Michigan weatherman Garry Frank put up with a lot during his time at WXMI. One time, his computer broke, and he had to do his weather broadcast using a dry-erase board, commenting "We’re gonna go John Madden on everything" as he scribbled away with black and blue markers. And then there’s the time he felt his crew was "dragging [him] down" and went off at them for complaining to him about the weather. "Doesn’t matter what time I come on, 4:30, 5:30, 6:30," he snapped, "and then you expect me to be chipper for five straight hours!" At least co-workers can be heard giggling in the background, and one of them wisecracks afterward, "That was terrifying!"
But maybe Frank isn’t so bad. When he left the network in 2019 to return to his hometown of Kansas City, radio station WFGR lamented the loss. "While we are happy Garry is going home, we will certainly miss his shenanigans," WFGR’s website said. And, WXMI’s own crew paid tribute to Frank with a top five list of "moments": cleaning out the studio refrigerator, his friendship with a co-worker identified as Davis, wearing shorts and dancing, the number of times he sneezed on-air, and, at the top of the list, his famous rant, which also made it to Jimmy Kimmel’s show. Several of the videos have since been removed from YouTube.
These days, Frank works for Fox 4 in Kansas City, but it is unknown if he is as colorful there as he was during his time in Michigan.
Weatherman Ryan Marshall and his snow "rant"
In November 2020, fed up Colorado weatherman Ryan Marshall decided to give Denver 7 news a piece of his mind while reporting live from the side of a snowy road. "Why do I have to be here to describe snowfall?" he queried in a whiny voice. "It’s pretty self-explanatory." When a co-anchor identified as Shannon tried to joke with him, he snapped, "Okay you know what Shannon? I am in an icy mood, okay? Nice pun by the way!" The video received more than four million views on YouTube and was shared by several websites like Good Things Guy, which empathized that "we all can totally relate."
Not until January did another news station, KSL, reveal why Marshall’s temper tantrum wasn’t "cut back to the studio" to shield viewers from his wrath: The whole broadcast was completely fake. Turns out that there is no Ryan Marshall. The weather bit was orchestrated and performed by comedian John Crist, who has appeared on ESPN, Fox, Sports Illustrated, The Today Show, and much more. The weatherman bit was one of several videos Crist posted following an eight-month hiatus after he was accused of sexual misconduct. According to Yahoo! Money, Crist received counseling, is now back at the helm, and is thankful "for all the love and care and support that you guys have shown me."
Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell’s slip of the tongue
In 2019, a video appeared on YouTube of meteorologist Jeremy Kappell, who was giving a report on Rochester, New York’s, WHEC-TV about Martin Luther King Jr. Park. Kappell had been fired "for using a racial slur on air." But was Kappell’s slip, wherein he said the word "c**n" instead of "King," done on purpose, or was it merely a stutter? Kappell, who has a slight lisp, says it was absolutely just an error when he accidentally combined "King" with "Junior" while talking too fast. "I knew that there was a bit of a mispronunciation in there," he explained, "[with] obviously a very unfortunate result." He also told The Florida Times-Union that he was "getting support from across the globe."
Even fellow meteorologist Al Roker defended Kappell, tweeting, "I think @JeremyKappell made an unfortunate flub and should be given the chance to apologize… Anyone who has done live TV and screwed up understands." But others, including Medium’s Rachel Barnhart, weren’t buying Kappell’s apologetic explanation, writing that, "Kappell proclaimed himself the leader of a movement to fight ‘real racism,’ a cause that closely aligns with the alt-right." The Anti-Defamation League explains that "alt-right" stands for "alternative right" and "is a repackaging of white supremacy by extremists seeking to mainstream their ideology." Kappell now has his own weather website and continues to maintain that his slip-up was just a mistake and nothing else.
How weatherman Cory McClosky handled the heat
Viewers howled when FOX 10’s weather map in Phoenix, Arizona, forecasted temperatures in the thousands of degrees in 2015. Weatherman Cory McCloskey was giving the day’s temperatures when he noticed that Gila Bend was at 750 degrees. As more maps faded in, McCloskey didn’t miss a beat, noting that Ahwatukee was 1,270 degrees. "Now I’m not authorized to evacuate Ahwatukee, but this temperature seems pretty high," he announced, followed by his report that 2,385-degree Wickenburg was "a total loss." McCloskey remained straight-faced as he advised viewers, "I’m not your dad, but I would get out." A meteorologist since 1989 and with FOX 10 since 2001, McCloskey remained deadpan while his co-anchors giggled off camera. "Don’t even bother looting up there," he advised. "It’s not even worth it."
NewsNow reporter Samia Khan later interviewed McCloskey, saying, "You were already an Arizona sensation, a FOX 10 sensation, but now the whole world knows how talented you are." A modest McCloskey explained that while he wasn’t responsible for the weather map mishap, which was computer-generated, he decided to have fun with it. "Half the time I’m just entertaining myself," he quipped. And while Phoenix temperatures have slowly climbed in recent years – The Arizona Republic reports that the city hit 122 degrees in 1990 and was at 118 degrees in July 2020 — folks don’t have to worry about disintegrating in the heat for now.
A Canadian comedian: meteorologist Jordan Witzel
Some weathermen have an angle like Happy Stevens, who once did a whole rap routine for his forecast. But Alberta, Canada, meteorologist Jordan Witzel, who "loves the serious challenge of forecasting weather," really should be a comedian. Witzel just adores being silly, such as when he cut his jeans and sported "Daisy Dukes" on a hot summer’s day. "Yahoo, folks!" he called out, hands on his hips and a big cowboy hat on his head. Witzel’s antics frequently crack up his co-workers, who never know quite what to expect from him.
Another time, Witzel got confused over the "activity of the day": swinging, which he construed as a certain adult activity among couples. Fellow anchors Scott Fee and Amber Schinkel giggled so hard that they could barely talk until Witzel got it. "Oh! Swinging like at a playground!" he exclaimed. Even more notable are Witzel’s Halloween outfits: In 2019, he appeared on-air dressed as a unicorn named Ferdinand and sporting tighty-whiteys. The anchorwoman laughed so hard that she had tears running down her face, uttering "Those shorts!" while a woman off-camera demanded to know what Witzel was wearing. Witzel’s best costume to date? In 2020, he appeared dressed as a ham and cheese bun, the ham situated on his derriere. Anchorwoman Dallas Flexhaug giggled uncontrollably while Witzel announced his "Glammy Chezbunns."
Denver’s Lisa Hidalgo goes with the flow
A Colorado native, Lisa Hidalgo enjoys forecasting the weather, as well as working with the Denver 7 Book Club and running — the latter of which she was able to do during the Denver Marathon in 2017. The lady is so fit that in 2019, she even participated in Denver’s Dancing with the Anchors to benefit blind children. So it’s no wonder that back in 2013, when a studio camera slipped to the floor as Hidalgo reported the weather, the weatherwoman did a little jig before kneeling to the floor and continuing her forecast while gazing up at the camera.
Camera fails are not the only challenges Hidalgo has met head-on. In 2014, she willingly took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, noting that, "As a woman it’s a lot harder. I have T-minus 45 minutes after this to get the barn repainted [i.e. her makeup on] for weather cut-ins." But Hidalgo did complete the challenge and challenged three more people afterward. Another funny moment featuring Hidalgo took place in 2016, when her co-workers superimposed a giant bird on the screen as a joke.
"Farts and toots" in the forecast
In 2017, attorney Rocky Wilkins was accustomed to bringing his young son, Houston, to work at Mississippi’s WLBT, where he routinely did a "recurring segment," according to the Miami Herald. The tyke was a familiar face around the set, sometimes being allowed to play weather forecaster on the green screen — but never on live television. So imagine weatherman Patrick Ellis’ surprise when Houston burst into the middle of his live forecast exclaiming, "I don’t know what’s going on, but Zane doesn’t know!" Next, the child performed what appeared to be a bird or pterodactyl impression as an amused Ellis looked on.
Forecaster Ellis actually took up studying weather to overcome "his fear of thunderstorms when he was younger." He was able to take Houston’s sudden appearance in stride, but when he asked the boy if he wanted to point out the weather, Ellis wasn’t expecting the answer he got. "Yeah," said the boy, "there are farts everywhere and toots! It’s crazy!" The child remained on camera for a few more seconds before Wilkins ran in, scooped him up, and ran out. He later commented that Ellis "was handling the situation like a real pro." As for the rumor that Houston actually farted at Ellis during his sugar-spurred appearance, Thrillist says Ellis corroborated that part. "All I’m going to say is watch out for the ‘toots’ across central Mississippi," he stated.
Happy birthday to who?
In 2013, KTLA meteorologist Henry DiCarlo was wishing happy birthday to viewers by name, similar to the way NBC weatherman Willard Scott used to wish centenarians happy birthday. DiCarlo’s website invites viewers to request birthday salutations on his Facebook page, with just two rules: "Belated birthdays will not be announced. We do not log future requests or announce birthdays for those that have passed." So when DiCarlo received a request to give a birthday shout-out to ten-year-old Hugh Janus, it seemed like just another random birthday announcement. But it wasn’t.
DiCarlo no sooner said the words "Hugh Janus" when he heard co-anchor Chris Schauble snickering off-camera. DiCarlo looked up, puzzled, as another off-screen co-anchor whispered "What?" The camera switched over to Schauble, who covered his face with his hand and muttered "I’m sorry," before explaining, "I think it was one of those trick names and you fell for it." Schauble couldn’t get the sentence out before DiCarlo caught on, too, laughing out loud. "I totally fell for it, didn’t I?" he said amid the giggles. The hilarity was shared by sites like HuffPost, which noted that DiCarlo "became one of our favorite local weatherman after throwing [a] hissy fit on live TV in 2011."
Pat Sajak, the whimsical weatherman
The ever-bubbly host of Wheel of Fortune worked many jobs before taking the game show’s helm in 1981, says Fandom. Prior to that, Sajak was a disc jockey, as well as a weatherman for Nashville’s WSM. In one clip from that job, he joked with his co-anchor, who accidentally thanked him before he even did his forecast. But the funniest clip shows him announcing that he has written a script for co-anchor Dan Miller to read. Sajak tailored the script so that Miller had to compliment him as "one of the most talented broadcasters in the country" and give Sajak a plug for his radio show. But as Miller read, "I personally think it’s one of the top radio shows in the country," both anchors started cracking up. It took a bit before Sajak was able to continue.
TV Guide says Sajak also hosted two shows, The Pat Sajak Show, from 1989 to 1990, and Pat Sajak Weekend in 2003. Bloopers from the shows include one from 1989 when Sajak asked a guest, "So … when did you fart, eh, start developing your skills?" The audience immediately broke into laughter as Sajak told them, "Oh, just settle down!" The fun continued even after Sajak joined Wheel of Fortune. In 1999, the whole studio lost it when a player tried to solve a puzzle, blurting out, "A group of pill-pushers?" For Pat Sajak, the fun indeed never ends.
Storms, hurricanes, and tornados, oh my!
"Don’t know why there’s no sun up in the sky, stormy weather" sings Etta James. Sure, the epic song of the 1930s was talking about relationships, but the lyrics "gloom and misery everywhere" pretty much sum up severe weather, especially when conditions are particularly wicked. Weather anchors routinely venture into dangerous storm conditions to report the news. Although their "bloopers" can be funny, some situations are downright perilous. Take 2020’s Hurricane Laura, for instance, which blew the Weather Channel’s meteorologists all over the place for literally hours. And in 2018, veteran ABC weatherwoman Ginger Zee actually watched a house roll away in front of her during Hurricane Michael.
Ginger Zee is no stranger to storms but said she had never before seen an entire house uprooted. The courageous woman gained so much popularity that she was inspired to write two books and appeared a number of times on Dancing with the Stars between 2016 and 2019. But the biggest award for weather reporting goes to Reed Timmer. Before he became a professional storm chaser, Timmer was Oklahoma’s Channel 4 meteorologist. One of Timmer’s most exciting videos was facing a Colorado tornado in 2016, among other escapades.