Follow Bart's journey to become "America's Next Weatherman"

Staff Writer

WEEK 2: Former Brockway resident Mackenzie Bart took first place in the individual competition on Saturday night’s episode of “Funny or Die Presents America’s Next Weatherman” on TBS, winning immunity and continued participation on the show during a high-stakes double elimination round.

The show began with host Matt Oberg leading contestants into the Weather Center — a green room that creates various weather-related challenges — for the first game of the night: Hang On, It’s a Hurricane. Competing individually, contestants were sent into the Weather Center, which created Category 1 hurricane conditions. Fighting the elements, they were required to make their way from the starting point to the on-camera mark — a box drawn on the floor — and stay there as long as possible prior to receiving their cue to deliver a brief report.

It was at this time that Oberg informed contestants of the night’s big news — it was a double elimination round, making it that much more important to win the challenge and, thus, immunity.

Contestants then took to the Weather Center one by one to complete the challenge. Some made it to the box and put in a respectable time; others were disqualified for falling, dropping equipment or failing to make it to the mark. Bart expressed confidence as she approached the Weather Center, saying she had taken walking classes as part of her participation in the Miss America pageant as Miss Ohio 2014. That confidence proved well-founded, as Bart managed to last 54 seconds in the box. This turned out to be the longest time of the entire group, earning her the Press Pass and immunity from the evening’s elimination.

Then came the time for the evening’s assignment, with the two teams, Red and Blue, decided at the beginning of the season, competing to see which one would have to send contestants into the elimination round.

Beforehand, teams were informed that the assignment would test their knowledge of weather facts. They were then sent into their studios to do some research, with advice from celebrity guest meteorologist Elita Loresca. Teams were then taken outside for the assignment — the Weather Balloon Quiz. Each team had to choose one contestant to become a weather balloon to be hoisted 30 feet in the air, where an unknown weather-related puzzle awaited. Those on the ground, meanwhile, would answer trivia questions, with each correct answer buying the contestant in the air additional time to complete the puzzle.

The Blue Team, of which Bart is a member, selected former wrestler and local meteorologist/anchor Miller Robson to act as the weather balloon. The Red Team chose news intern and SKYWARN-trained weather spotter Ron Hilliard. The two of them got into position, and the trivia questions began. The Blue Team ended up winning 8-2, in large part because of Jeff Forgeron, an Associated Press writer for Weather Underground, who submitted all of the correct answers, sometimes buzzing in so quickly that Oberg didn’t even have time to complete the question.

This gave Robson a six-second head start on the puzzle, which involved correctly converting temperatures from Celsius to Fahrenheit. The head start allowed Robson to lock in his answers first, but Oberg declared that a few of them were incorrect. This mistake allowed Hilliard to catch up and lock in the correct answers, giving the win to the Red Team.

Members of the Blue Team were then sent back to their studio to select three contestants to compete in the elimination round. They decided to cast their votes anonymously, writing down three names and throwing them into a hat. When the votes were tallied, the Blue Team put television reporter and host Jenn Barlow, Air Force veteran and fitness trainer Frank Margini and radio personality Jennifer “Jazzy T” Williams on the chopping block.

The three contestants then entered into the Cast Off, forced to deliver individual forecasts in front of the judges to determine who would stay and who would go home. In this case, the contestants were required to prepare a summer forecast for Augusta, Georgia. What they were not told was that they would be delivering these forecasts in a plexiglass box and that scores of insects would suddenly be dropped on them while they spoke. The judges would pick a winner based on which contestant did the best job of completing the report despite the distraction.

Despite their visible discomfort, all three contestants managed to soldier on to the end of their forecasts. The celebrity judges, Jillian Barberie and Johnny Mountain along with guest Loresca, reviewed each one and came to a decision. They found positives and negatives in each performance — Williams, they said, showed a lot of personality but needed to have enough humor to acknowledge what was going on; Barlow was very professional despite the situation but didn’t come across as relatable; and Margini ad libbed well but worked too hard to “fix” the situation.

In the end, they decided to save Barlow, eliminating Margini and Williams.

The next episode of “America’s Next Weatherman” will air at 11 p.m. this Saturday on TBS.