Forecaster, father, and friend of WUWT, John Coleman, founder of the Weather Channel, passes away

It is with great sadness that I announce this. John Coleman was a true hero of mine, and a great friend. He made gigantic contributions to television, to weather forecasting, and even to the National Weather Service who changed and upgraded many of their methods to accommodate the visionary ideas he had in founding the Weather Channel.

In 1983, Coleman won the American Meteorological Society award for Outstanding Service by a Broadcast Meteorologist. The organization credited Coleman for “his pioneering efforts in establishing a national cable weather channel,” according to the AMS website.

I last saw John Coleman a couple of months ago in Chicago at a gathering of TV meteorologists and climate skeptics. He was as jovial and as witty as ever.

To say “he will be missed”, is an understatement.


From NBC, San Diego,

John Coleman, the jovial and energetic meteorologist who delighted San Diego television viewers for two decades and angered scientists for insisting that climate change is a hoax, died Saturday. He was 83.

Coleman died at his home in Las Vegas, while surrounded by family, according to KUSI-TV, where he served as a forecaster from 1994 to 2014, when he retired.

john-coleman

John Coleman at KUSI-TV, a few years ago. He lived much of his professional life in front of the green-screen chroma-key.

His retirement capped a 60-year career during which Coleman co-founded the Weather Channel, which began as a little seen offering in the early days of cable television to a popular source of coverage of everything from blizzards and hurricanes to California’s wind-driven wildfires.

Alex Tardy, a forecaster at the National Weather Service, said Sunday,

“‘This is a big loss for the weather community. He brought a lot of energy and color and enthusiasm to forecasting. My kids loved watching him on TV.”

Tardy also said Coleman never tried to push his skepticism about climate change being man made.

“We had good talks,” Tardy said. “I enjoyed it.’


My condolences to his family, and to his extended professional family, and to his friends who worked along with him, especially his co-founding partner, Joe D’Aleo.

ADDED:

In his second to last comment on WUWT, back in September 2017, John said this in response to this story: Guardian: Climate Denial is the Fault of Old White People

I am old

I am white

I am a denier

Guess they are correct. I will die. So will the others. Then things will be settled.

Got it.

This was my all-time favorite comment from him, in response to WUWT’s 10 year milestone:

10 years. What is the big deal. I worked two of my several jobs for 20 plus years and no one even noted the tenth anniversary. Anthony, you have a great website, you are a great friend and a hero of mine. Now, cancel the celebration and get back to work. The next eight years (the Trump administration) will be super big for you and your website. Hundreds of thousands of people are going to become interested the skeptical view of global warming/ climate change. I have already noted an uptick for my essay. Your site is about to explode with new readers. Do your best work starting now and don’t stop until the victory is yours.

Thanks John, for everything.


UPDATE: I spoke with his wife Linda, who called me this morning with the news just after I had posted this. She said his death was “sudden and unexpected”, but was likely related to his COPD illness he had been battling. I also spoke to Joe D’Aleo, who was his TWC  co-founder. My heart goes out to both of them.

Joe and John had been working on a book about the founding of the Weather Channel, the trials, and tribulations of it, and the successes of those early years. Joe said he will be finishing the book, and adding a final chapter.

No arrangements have been made yet. I’ll add an update when I know.

– Anthony

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104 thoughts on “Forecaster, father, and friend of WUWT, John Coleman, founder of the Weather Channel, passes away

  1. Safe home, John. An amazing guy who can’t help but leave a sad void upon his passing. To all who knew and loved him well, my condolences.

  2. Lovely guy what can I say John Colman is someone I will always miss. No cant no humbug John just told it the way it is. My sister in law died the same way Bronchiectasis but Doreen lived in Ringmer in Sussex and stop smoking at 24 though Doreen did not smoke heavily. So much for living in the country next door to a farm and open fields and dying age 70 from a complaint supposedly caused – if you listen to alarmists – by air pollution.

    • Genetics plays a role in such things. My father’s side of the family, males live to mid-80s. Meanwhile, a female cousin is soon to be 100. On her father’s side, males have mostly died at about 100.

      Regardless of the circumstances, we grieve when a friend dies.

    • Didn’t know him by name, but I’ve enjoyed the show he developed. Thanks for introducing us. I would have enjoyed his views.

  3. He was an absolute legend in TV weather in Chicago during the 70s, funny and personable and entertaining as hell. ABC channel 7, 10pm, must see TV before that became a thing. Made up new words like “thorms” etc. One of a kind. RIP.

    • Anything that decreases oxygen in the blood has a detrimental effect on body organs. Heart damage or related issues will do that. Cardiologists will try to get patients to do what it takes to keep oxygen supplied to those organs. Ask my wife. She never smoked.

    • The term ‘COPD’ snuck up behind my back while I wasn’t paying attention. A quick google produces the following:

      It is said to be the third leading cause of death in US. …

      COPD consists of two conditions:
      Bronchitis: …
      Emphysema: …
      link

      Apparently COPD can be caused by anything that irritates the lungs. Emphysema took my father-in-law, a farmer exposed to dust and chemicals, way too young.

      • Another cause of COPD is Alpha 1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (AATD), a genetic disorder caused by inheriting two defective genes. The gene which produces Alpha 1 Antitrypsin in the normal way is called M. The gene which causes AAT deficiency is called Z. Because everyone inherits two genes, there are three possible combinations of these genes: MM, MZ or ZZ. These combinations are called genotypes.

        I am ZZ, My brother is MZ, as are my three sons. They are carriers & have sufficient Alpha 1 Antitrypsin to protect their lungs. I do not. With hindsight, I realise that from a young age I did not have the endurance of my friends. I became winded after running a quarter mile & when swimming underwater, I always came up for air first. I have never smoked & enjoyed many sports including weight training, cycling & dinghy sailing.

        Now at 75 , the symptoms are severe. My heart & lungs are damaged & I doubt I’ll make it to the end of 2018.
        It is believed that perhaps 1 in 25 of people with some Scandinavian ancestry are carriers. There is no routine testing for the condition in the UK, which means that as many as 20,000 people remain undiagnosed here.
        There are many, many people in the USA with Scandinavian ancestry, so the numbers could be much higher. At present, it’s incurable. Augmentation therapy is a treatment where Alpha 1 Antitrypsin (AAT) is given into your veins to increase the levels in your body. The idea is to try and slow down the progression of COPD caused by AATD. It’s available in other countries, but not currently approved in the UK, because it is very expensive. https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0221/4446/files/IS3_A1AD_2017_PDFdownload.pdf?2561858438333952516&_ga=2.150820661.2090967277.1516608086-1876370898.1516608086

      • Perry, while not on-topic I’m glad I heard on this.

        Here’s a paper on the prevalence of the Z allele.
        http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0954611111000515

        It seems the AATD allele frequency 1/25 in some parts of the Scandinavian peninsula is correct, which means this disease is not strictly a rarity there. There are very very many rare diseases with low frequency – rare is something that has insidence under 1/2000. Combined those rarities make up a large bulk of people with some illness.

  4. Very nice. Now, let’s hear, right here, from those scientists he is said to have ‘angered’. I’ll bet we hear more from those many more scientists who applauded him.

  5. I can only add my respects. We should ask ourselves what John would say, when we get a little intransigent…..Brett

  6. Thank you, John Coleman, for having been a voice of reason. May you rest in peace.
    My condolences to your family and friends.

  7. So sad to hear the passing of a wonderful man. I enjoyed watching a video he did on you tube about climate. He did so much good for all of us and we should take a moment to reflect and be grateful for all he has done.

  8. God speed John. Thank you for your dedication to our weather. I’ll never forget in the mid 80s getting cable TV with the Weather Channel and close to real time radar. I was awed to be able to go outside and match what was on the screen with my own eyes. Thank you.
    Thanks for posting this Anthony.

  9. I remember John from many years ago on TV. He was always a great meteorologist and was absolutely correct about the climate change fraud. He will be missed more than most people understand because he was a powerful force behind the scenes. Condolences to his family and all his friends, especially Joe D’Aleo.

  10. I first met John about 10 years ago at a Heartland Climate Conference, and saw him just a few months ago, also at a Heartland gathering. But somehow we would always talk about a mutual friend from 50 years ago that influenced both of our lives – the 1967 Big Snow in Chicago. John was always spunky, articulate, pithy, opinionated, and informed, an old style forecaster who preferred his experience and intuition over the models (both weather forecast and climate models, may I add). A brief chat with John would make your day.
    We’ll miss him, but he had a very full life and I’m sure he enjoyed every second of it.

  11. John Coleman

    Enthusiastic

    David Madsen: “… I grew up watching John Coleman’s Weather Forecasts. … And all of you that watch this [2010 TV special], if you think he’s pretty old [at 75], you should see how he ends his forecast on Friday nights. ‘It’s FRIDAAAAYYYY!!!!!’ he shouts and leaps up into the air spinning around and runs out of the studio. …”

    (http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/01/14/john-colemans-tv-special-tonight-global-warming-the-other-side/#comment-290322 )

    • Encouraging

      John Coleman: “Joe, Congratulations on putting the new deal together. I know it will be a huge success. You are one of my heroes. Count on me to watch/read your stuff every day.”

      (https://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/21/joe-bastardi-resigns-at-accuweather-after-32-years/#comment-604469 )

      John Coleman: “How horrid, Dr. Drapela, that you and your family are paying this huge price for your contrarian position on the cause and nature of global warming. … a university is supposed to be different, a special enclave free of these pressures where contrarian views and debate are treasured and protected. …

      I am in your corner, for what it is worth. Good luck.”

      (https://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/06/11/climate-skeptic-instructor-fired-from-oregon-state-university/#comment-1007161 )

      • Entrepreneurial

        30 Years Ago, Today, the Weather Channel Went Live

        “… On May 2nd of 1982, John Coleman launched The Weather Channel with the help of a small army of very talented people. I’m proud to have played a small part of this part of unique American broadcast history. Here’s my interview with the founder of the Weather Channel, John Coleman:

        … Atlanta, GA on April 28th, 2012 … John describes how the ego of GMA’s lead news anchor, David Hartman, and his need to take ‘whatever time he needed and the weatherman could have what’s left,’ was the impetus to create TWC. The pioneering effort of John Coleman and the 148 people who started a highly technical, never-before-attempted, 24/7 live weather network from scratch is summarized in this video. [video]

        UPDATE 5/2/12: Here’s Joe D’Aleo talking about the challenges of hiring a staff when the TWC was nothing but an empty floor in a building. Plus his favorite blooper. [video]” – Anthony Watts

        (https://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/05/02/30-years-ago-today-the-weather-channel-went-live/ )

      • Greathearted

        Antarctica, Akademic Shokalskiy

        “Today, while shopping at lunchtime for some last minute year end supplies, I got one of the strangest cell-phone calls ever. It was from my friend John Coleman, the founder of the Weather Channel and Chief meteorologist at KUSI-TV in San Diego. He was calling via cell phone from his car, and he was on his way into the TV station early. He started off by saying, Anthony, we have a really strange situation here. Then, to my surprise, he relayed a conversation he had just had: a person on the Akademik Shokalskiy had reached out, because they didn’t have adequate weather data on-board. At first, I thought John was pulling my leg, but then, as he gave more details, I realized he was serious. ***

        I knew just what to send, because it was something that had been discussed several times by commenters on WUWT. When I got back to the office, I no more than pulled up the bookmark and press send on the email with a brief description of the operational weather data model that covered the region and John Coleman was on the phone again. He asked me to talk to Dave Scott … .

        ***

        John Coleman and Dave Scott put together a video news story which ran on the KUSI 6PM News tonight. … [video link in this WUWT article] ***

        (https://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/12/31/wuwt-and-weatherbell-help-kusi-tv-with-a-weather-forecasting-request-from-ice-trapped-ship-in-antarctica-akademik-shokalskiy/ )

      • John Coleman: “Anthony, I want you to be part of this first test group … Do whatever you have to do to regain your hearing. *** If you need donations to cover the cost, set up an account. Let’s make this happen.”

        (https://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/04/23/hearing-restoration-with-gene-therapy-i-knew-this-day-would-come/#comment-1620124 )

        John Coleman: “Joe, you are a hero of mine. You stepped aside from your pursuit of a Ph.D. way back when to join me in the battle to bring meaningful, accurate weather forecasts to Good Morning, America and when the Producers and David Hartman made that impossible, you worked side by side with me to design The Weather Channel. And when I finally (after a four-year search) came up with funding, you devoted your entire life and energy for several years to bring the TV weather service we envisioned into reality on TV screens across the United States. While you received only meager rewards for your accomplishments, you are admired and respected by thousands of TV Meteorologists for what you did. I am humbled by your knowledge, skill and humanity. May the balance of your life be ever so sweet Dr. D’Aleo.”

        (https://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/05/19/congratulations-to-joe-doc-daleo/#comment-1640744 )

      • Bold Truth Teller

        John Coleman, Founder of The Weather Channel had this to say: It is very gratifying to hear of the formation of The Open Atmospheric Society. A new Meteorological organization and scientific publication have been greatly needed for more than a decade. It is unfortunate that the American Meteorological Society has become totally politicized and conducts itself in total violation of the basic scientific principle of open debate … I allowed my Professional Membership in the AMS expire many years ago after being an active member … for many years. Several events occurred that made it clear to me that the society was in the control of people who were using it to complete their personal agendas and the Society would was becoming closed and dogmatic. I look forward to membership in the OAS.

        (https://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/09/16/a-new-professional-society-for-meteorology-and-climatology-is-announced/ )

      • 10 years. *** The next eight years (the Trump administration) will be super big for you and your website. *** Do your best work starting now and don’t stop until the victory is yours.

        (See above article)

        An Exhortation to Honor a True Champion of Truth and Liberty

        Anthony: A lukewarm swamp with only an occasional rock of strongly argued, solid, CO2 science is not what John Coleman had in mind. It is time to re-group. Do as you did in the past, until around 2014, your best work to get the facts out about human CO2. Make – WUWT — great — again.

        True gratitude will honor John Coleman.

      • There is a time for everything … a time to weep …

        We mourn the loss of this fine man.

        One More Day (Diamond Rio)

        (youtube)

        We also …

        celebrate a life well-lived.

        ”It’s FRIDAAAAYYYY!!!!!” he shouts and leaps up into the air spinning around and runs out of the studio. …

        … a time to dance …

        (Ecclesiastes 3:4)

        Well done, John Coleman. Well done.

      • Well said Janice. When meaningful words are called for, you can be counted on to supply them.

        Thank you John Coleman for your wisdom, energy, enthusiasm, knowledge and perception. You will be very sadly missed. My sincere condolences to John’s family.

  12. With the greatest of respect to those who are, were I religious, I would wish John God speed.

    I don’t believe the human spirit is extinguished by death, so I hope he returns as a climate sceptic virus.

  13. Sad day for weather/climate science. John C was an observationist and scrupulous about weather history and documented facts. No one should be surprised that he was also known as a gentleman with an appropriate sense of humor

    Those are characteristics of true scientists – integrity, humility, and absence of ego. Great man, great loss.

    Best wishes to his family and colleagues

  14. Larger than life
    Sunrise smile
    Weatherman extraordinaire
    Truth, with Style.

    God be with you and yours, John Coleman.

  15. Often the regrets of the loss of a public figure are limited to the loss of their contributions to the public
    I’m one of the “we” who didn’t know him personally but still regret his loss. Like REP, he sounds like a man I would have liked to have known personally.
    My prayers for those to which his loss was personal.

  16. Another voice of reason can no more speak, but the words he said will forever stay in the minds of those who carry on the defense of science against the post-modern progressive perversion of it.

  17. I may have seen a Weather Channel broadcast a few times, <5. (?)
    My only knowledge of John was via WUWT — I always read his comments.
    Knowing him via comments – I am saddened.

  18. This is one of John’s videos that converted me to skepticism. I have recommended it over and over to folks who claim that they’re skeptics of skepticism. Posted in his memory:

  19. R.I.P John Coleman. I grew up in the Chicago area and remember watching John do the local forcast. I also remember when WLS TV put their transmitter antenna on top of the Sears tower. John did a video where he was dancing on top of the Sears tower singing “I can see clearly now the ghost is gone” to the tune of the Johnny Nash song.
    Back in the day with broadcast TV a ghost image was ever present as the video portion of the broadcast is in AM.

    • Me too .
      I was fortunate enough to be able to chat with this icon of my childhood nostalgically ( two ton Baker ) and seriously over some bar closing beers at one of the early Heartland conferences .

  20. Condolences to John’s family and to you, his great friend, Anthony. John’s friendly smile will be missed.

  21. Saddened by this news. He was a great man and champion of weather. He will be missed. Condolances to friends and family.

  22. John Coleman’s essay on global warming:
     
    By John Coleman

    “Climate Change is happening.” You bet it is. The climate of planet  Earth has been constantly changing for as long as we have any records. Look at the chart below. [etc., etc.]

    https://johncolemanblog.com/

  23. John Coleman – we need more people to tell it like it is.
    10 year celebration – No, i did not celebrate 10 years at my job, but it was at least 10 years before I took a sick leave day.

  24. Climate Skeptics are Modern Day Churchills

    Modern climate skeptics share many of the characteristics of Winston Churchill, as well as challenges. Winston Churchill, like Patton, believed that they were born to fulfill a destiny. They both had unwavering confidence in their ability, and the role they would play in shaping world history. They paid untold personal costs and made huge personal sacrifices, all for the unselfish goal of protecting society from itself, or more accurately, the political left. The reward for protecting society and preserving freedom was extreme opposition, criticism, humiliation, failure, underminings, and misguided political demagoguery. Their crime? They were unafraid to speak the unpopular truth and unwaveringly defended it. They were unashamed and unafraid to oppose the political left.
    https://co2islife.wordpress.com/2018/01/22/climate-skeptics-are-modern-day-churchills/

  25. Thank you for this post, Anthony. John Coleman, may you rest in peace. One of America’s greatest citizens. Never forgotten.

  26. I pray John is enjoying eternal life with all the angles and saints. My condolences to his wife and family. I will miss him.

  27. Very sad to read. What a fine individual. How well he would explain the history of the climate change movement or simply hold his own in situations like this:



    There is little doubt he will rest in peace for his outstanding service to the truth.

  28. Matthew 5;10 would be apt.
    ‘Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’

  29. Lo, there do I see my Father..
    Lo, there do I see my Mother
    And my Sisters and my Brothers..
    Lo, there do I see the line
    Of my people back to the beginning..
    Thay do bid me to take my place among them..
    In the Halls of Valhalla,
    Where the Brave may live forever.

  30. My favorite memory of John Coleman was during Australian Chris Turney’s Ship of Fools adventure risking lives of tourists including young children on a ridiculous junket to assess global warming in Antarctica. The ship charted was not of a class suitable for polar waters and the Captain had urged him to hurry his wandering snowmobiling adventurers onto the ship because of weather developments. The captain was ignored the ship got stuck fast and rescue icebreakers got iced in trying to help.

    The ship Captain was unhappy with the weather forecasts from Antarctica research stations and called John Coleman for help who relayed up to the minute forecasts from Joe D’Aleo through Anthony Watts forecastin a wind change that gave the best chance for getting the ship out in two days. The forecast and direction for guiding the ship out were right on!!

    Did anyone thank you guys Anthony?

  31. A single act of immense courage, enlightenment or fortitude can earn a person the title of greatness, but John Coleman’s life was a series of such acts decade after decade. He was a great man!

    As I take the time to remember and appreciate John Coleman, I am haunted by questions in the back of my mind:

    How will we fill those shoes? How many of us will need to step up in the fight for the truth of climate change science?

  32. With sincere condolences to John Coleman’s family and friends!

    Have wonderful weather during your journey into your next adventure. May everything you study, stay as interesting as Earth’s weather!

    Thank you for all you’ve done for weather science, forecasting and educating us people!

    May exciting events, e.g. such as Antarctica’s ‘ship of fools’ reckless clubbing on peanut butter banana drinks while blundering around disused penguin nests while sea ice captured their ship,l as Gary Pearse reminds us; keep you busy and amused forever.

  33. Sad news, but I’ll celebrate a full life lived well.

    Even if he did offer condolences when I told him I lived in New Hampshire. (By then, he wasn’t very fond of cold weather.)

  34. I just sent this email to my friend Joe d’Aleo.

    “Sorry for your loss Joe – I never met your friend John Coleman, but I liked him a lot.”

    I extend the same message to you Anthony, and to all John’s other friends and family.

    John Coleman lived a great life – strong, courageous, and true.

    Best wishes to all, Allan

  35. John was a great communicator who had an infectiously positive personality. Every time we lose someone like this they are irreplaceable. His family should be proud of how many lives he touched that never met him.

    I am glad that he got to see the skeptic revolution reach its peak with the current presidency and leave on a high note. He will be missed but never forgotten.

  36. There will never be another “John Coleman”.

    Only spoke to him 1 time on the phone in 1981. TWC was almost my first TV job in 1982, then almost my 2nd one in 1985.
    The prospect of working with dozens of meteorologists was quite an enticement.

    Thanks Anthony for the tribute.

  37. Such sad news….he will be greatly missed…he was an inspiration to all of us to never quit…what an amazing spirit. RIP John…

  38. Very sad news. John was highly entertaining when presenting or writing and his passion for accuracy and truth shone like a beacon from a lighthouse through the climate fog. Condolences to all concerned.

  39. It was listening to this intelligent articulate man that made me first question whether the prevailing view on global warming was true or had any scientific basis. I’m sure he influenced many people. I will miss his articles on his climate blog. A sad loss.

  40. Eternal rest grant unto him, oh Lord. May your eternal light shine upon him. May all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, test in peace.

  41. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

    His work was OK; that’s done alright and will stand as such.

  42. A great voice for reason has gone quiet, but his words of wisdom will be heard forever where there are people who believe in the truth

  43. We all bear a bit of responsibility for this increasingly unnecessary loss. Some, like big pharma and the captured FDA, more than others. Fightaging.org

  44. Climate science has lost a giant. I was lucky to have met the man when I was teen living in the Chicago “Boonies” (western and southern suburbs). He was our local TV “weatherman” and would visit schools for talks.

  45. The world of weather has lost a giant. John hired me as one of the original on-air meteorologists at TWC back in ’82 and his levels of energy and knowledge inspired me throughout my career. Those attributes were channeled into the matter of climate change later in his career, to the benefit of all. Thank you for all you gave me, John…RIP

  46. I am deeply saddened, he was also a hero of mine.

    That said, I am minded of a moving quote by George S. Patton, “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived.”

  47. How sad it was to hear this news. I’ve been watching a lot of Johns old videos lately and thought “what a guy”. A true pioneer in todays world. In a weird and twisted way, John will get his own back laughably, as his atomic structure will inevitably end up as part of our atmospheric gases. It has been a privilege to watch you and to learn from you, a true scholar and teacher. You’ll never be forgotten. Thank you John, so very much.

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