A warm, Weather Center welcome: Cantore inducted into Meteorologist Hall of Fame

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Of course, the weather was perfect for the induction of Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel as the 2013 inductee into the Meteorologist Hall of Fame at the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center on Saturday.

Peggy Johnston, chairperson of the exhibit and program committee for the Weather Discovery Center, read Cantore's introduction for being chosen for the Meteorologist Hall of Fame.

"We are pleased to have him join the ranks of other very accomplished experts in the field of meteorology whose pictures adorn our lobby at the Weather Center," she said.

Johnston said Cantore is a native of White River Junction, Vt., and graduated with a bachelor's degree in meteorology from Lyndon State
meteorology from Lyndon State College (Lyndonville, Vt.) in 1986.

"Cantore found his dream job at The Weather Channel as his first job out of college and first appeared on air in July 1986," Johnston said, adding that Cantore is a long-time member of the National Weather Association and the American Meteorological Association.

She said Cantore was the 2003 recipient of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Davis S. Swanson Award and other awards from NOAA.

"Known as The Weather Channel’s storm tracker, Cantore reportstirelessly throughout the duration of the storms to provide live coverage. Whether it's in the middle of an ice storm, tornado activity or a Category 5 hurricane, there is no place Jim Cantore would rather be," she said.

Johnston added that Cantore is well-known for his animated, tenacious style, both in the field and in the studio.

Johnston said he serves as host to many original productions on The Weather Channel, including the award-winning "Storm Stories," a non-fiction TV series he also narrates.

"Storm Stories showcases various types of severe weather, such as tornadoes, hurricanes and blizzards," she said.

"His latest series, 'Cantore Stories,' follows his adventures to extraordinary climate locations around the world to meet with the unique people who live there," Johnston said.

He is a frequent guest on NBC programs such as "Nightly News with Brian Williams" and "The Today Show" and on MSNBC, she said.

"Today, all of the weather action is here in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, ‘The Weather Capital of the World,’ which is why Jim and The Weather Channel are here," Johnston said.

Following Johnston's introduction, Cantore thanked her and her husband, Dr. Jon Johnston for having him in their home over the Groundhog weekend festivities.

Cantore said it has been quite a weekend for him in Punxsutawney.

"When I think about what has gone on in the last 24 hours in my life here in Punxsutawney, I can tell you how awesome its been," Cantore said Saturday, adding that five years ago, he was first invited to be
inducted into the Hall of Fame, but his boss at the time at The Weather Channel told him that it wasn't prestigious enough.

"He's no longer with us," Cantore said, which drew laughter from the overflow crowd at the induction ceremony.

"God bless John (Hallman), who just passed away, for helping to save this beautiful Post Office building," he said.

"My dad worked for the Post Office for over 30 years, and he carried mail through Mother Nature's temper tantrums and was also the post master, and to walk into this building, which is now a Weather Hall of Fame — it's awesome," Cantore said.

"Having the Weather Center in this building has deep meaning to me," he said. "I remember this just like it was yesterday — I was sitting at the dining room table, and my dad asked me 'what do I want to do the rest of my life?" Cantore said, adding that his response was maybe a fireman or electrician.

"Dad said, 'Why don't you go study the weather?” and Cantore asked him why he suggested that.

"My dad said 'because you're like a freak when it snows; you're like a night owl, staying up, waiting for the first flakes to arrive, and you're out shoveling the driveway so your mother can get to work in the morning,'" he said. "I told him that it was a pretty good idea," Cantore said, adding that the rest is history.

"To be a part of the great wall here in the Weather Center with all of these other meteorologists, especially Dr. Greg Forbes, and to be anywhere with him is truly a great honor," he said.

Cantore is the seventh inductee into the Meteorologist Hall of Fame.

He joins such well-known meteorologists as AccuWeather founder Dr. Joel Meyers, KDKA TV’s Jeff Verszyla, Paul Knight from Weather World, and Forbes, also from The Weather Channel.

When he's not out in the elements keeping The Weather Channel viewers out of harm's way, Cantore's passion for the outdoors is equally evident in his leisure activities. He enjoys skiing, softball, golf, landscaping and spending time with his two children.

Jim Cassidy, chairman of the board for the Weather Discovery Center, said the center couldn't operate without the many volunteers who help with the school tours and the care and maintenance of the facility.

Cassidy said it was a busy year for the Weather Center, as board member Howard Beezer was chosen as the Man of the Year for 2011, and Katie Laska, another board member, was chosen as the Woman of the Year for 2011.

The center also contributed to some nationwide trivia.

"The Weather Center was the answer to a question on the television program, 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire?'" Cassidy said.

He said the question was, "What small town hosts the only Meteorology and Weather Hall of Fame in the world?"

"The answer was, of course, Punxsutawney," he said.

"You know you've really arrived when you’re the answer to a question on a game show," Cassidy said,.

Additionally, the board has created a new, full-time staff position of director of education and programming. Cassidy announced that Amanda Hornak has been hired for that.

"Amanda is going to be coming on board in the next few weeks, adding to our staff, and will be developing weather curriculum and working with the school groups that come in," he said.

Cassidy said in the next couple of months, the Weather Center plans to hire another full-time person to be the executive director and concentrate on marketing and development.

"I think those two positions expand our staff, which will help us to move forward what we do and expand our scope and geographic footprint," Cassidy said.