The Weather Channel (United states)

For the Australian Weather Channel that formerly went by the same name as the U.S. channel, see Sky News Weather Channel.

The Weather Channel, LLC
The Weather Channel logo (2005-present)
Launched May 2, 1982
Owned by NBCUniversal News Group
Blackstone Group
Bain Capital[1]
(exact percentages unknown)
Picture format 1080i (HDTV)
480i (SDTV)
Country United States
Language English
Broadcast area United States, Puerto Rico and The Bahamas[2]
Headquarters 300 Interstate North Parkway SE, Atlanta, Georgia
Sister channel(s) Weatherscan
Website Willmar, Minnesota) Channel 34
Selective TV, Inc.
(Alexandria, Minnesota)
Channel 50
DirecTV 362 (HD/SD)
1362 (Video On Demand)
Dish Network 214 (HD/SD)
Available on most U.S. cable systems Consult your local cable provider pr channel guide for channels
AT&T U-VerseVerizon FiOS 1225 (HD)
225 (SD)619 (HD)
Sky Angel 320
Streaming media
OneLink Communications 96

The Weather Channel is an American basic cable and satellite television channel that is owned as a joint venture between NBCUniversal, and investment firms Blackstone Group and Bain Capital. The channel broadcasts weather forecasts and weather-related news, along with documentaries and entertainment programming related to weather. The channel's headquarters are located in a high-rise at the Interstate North complex in the Cumberland area of metro Atlanta, Georgia, in unincorporated Cobb County near the intersection of Interstates 75 and 285 (overlooking the "Cobb Cloverleaf" interchange).

In addition to its programming on the cable channel, TWC also provides forecasts for terrestrial and satellite radio stations, newspapers, and websites, and maintains an extensive online presence at and through a set of mobile smartphone and tablet computer applications. Content from The Weather Channel is available for purchase from the NBCUniversal Archives.

As of August 2013, approximately 99,926,000 American households (87.50% of households with television) receive The Weather Channel.[3] The Weather Channel is currently the most reached channel on cable in America, in terms of coverage.


The Weather Channel was founded on July 18, 1980,[4] by former WLS-TV Chicago chief meteorologist and Good Morning America forecaster John Coleman and then-president of the channel's original owner Landmark Communications, Frank Batten. It was launched on May 2, 1982. The Weather Channel debuted a high-definition simulcast feed on September 26, 2007.


The Weather Channel uses special proprietary equipment that inserts local weather forecast and warning information if it is viewed on a cable television provider. The original WeatherStar technology has been upgraded on larger cable systems to the IntelliStar, which incorporates "Vocal Local" to announce current conditions, weather bulletins and detailed local forecasts. Subscribers of satellite, IPTV and some smaller cable providers originally saw only a roundup of local TWC forecasts for major cities across the U.S., as well as satellite and radar images, and severe weather watch and warning maps when active. However, satellite customers with newer systems or interactive receivers have the choice of 'roundups' or local forecasts. For both cable and satellite viewers, popular and smooth jazz music plays in the background during these segments. The original WeatherStar technology is still in use by small cable companies that cannot afford to upgrade to the IntelliStar.

The Weather Channel operates a service based on modified versions of the WeatherStar technology called Weatherscan, a separate channel which constantly displays local and regional conditions, and forecasts, along with The Weather Channel's logo and advertisements.

TWC's sister channel in Canada is The Weather Network in English and MétéoMédia in French, which use similar technology that is currently in use in the USA. TWC also runs websites in Brazil (Canal do Tempo), the United Kingdom (Weather Channel), France (Météo 123) and Germany (Wetter 123). Apart from its stake in the Weather Network/MétéoMédia, TWC only runs its US channel, although it does produce international forecasts.

A definitive history of the network, The Weather Channel: The Improbable Rise of a Media Phenomenon, by Frank Batten and Jeffrey L. Cruikshank, was published by Harvard Business Press in May 2002, in honor of TWC's 20th anniversary.

Sale to NBCUniversal

On January 3, 2008, The Weather Channel and its assets were put up for sale by Landmark Communications.[5] On July 6, 2008, NBC Universal, Bain Capital and Blackstone Group agreed to purchase The Weather Channel from Landmark.[6] The sale was finalized on September 12, 2008. NBC Universal also owned NBC Weather Plus, a rival service which was carried by and featured content from its local affiliates; that service announced its discontinuation three months later. Subchannels carrying Weather Plus have since switched to The Local AccuWeather Channel, kept the Weather Plus engine, or switched affiliations to other networks such as This TV or the Retro Television Network; while some have shut down entirely.

From November 2008 to February 2009, The Weather Channel laid off seven longtime on-camera meteorologists: Kristina Abernathy, Eboni Deon, Kristin Dodd, Rich Johnson, Cheryl Lemke, Mark Mancuso and Dave Schwartz. With the exception of Eboni Deon, all had been on the air for more than ten years, and three of them had been employed by the network for more than twenty years. In July 2010, The Weather Channel terminated Bill Keneely, the last of the original on-camera meteorologists who appeared on the network's first broadcasts in 1982. In December 2010, the network also laid off on-camera meteorologist Nicole Mitchell; Mitchell would file a lawsuit against The Weather Channel in 2012, alleging that she had been terminated because the new owners disapproved of the time required by her simultaneous duties as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force Reserve as one of the "Hurricane Hunters" team.[7] Such reserve duties are protected by U.S. law.

Inevitably, the merger of NBC on-air meteorologists began in May 2009. former NBC Weather Plus meteorologist Todd Santos joined The Weather Channel on May 2 of that year. Al Roker of NBC's Today began hosting a one-hour morning program called Wake Up With Al, alongside meteorologist Stephanie Abrams later in the summer. However for New York-based forecasting operations (those utilized for MSNBC and CNBC forecasts, for instance), the former NBC Weather Plus forecasting, radar and graphics systems remain in place, with banners changed to fit The Weather Channel's graphics scheme. On September 10, 2009, The Weather Channel co-founder Frank Batten died.[8][9]

International versions

Over the years, attempts to broadcast international versions of TWC (apart from Canada's The Weather Network/MétéoMédia and the Australian version of The Weather Channel) failed. TWC also operates websites for online localized forecasts in Brazil, France, Germany, India, Latin America, and the United Kingdom, but some of these sites apparently have not been developed further since 2003. The Weather Channel also shares radar and forecasts with The Weather Network, particularly for The Weather Channel's Canadian forecasts.

  • A UK version of The Weather Channel ran from September 1, 1996 to January 30, 1998, when it was shut down due to low viewership. It shared channel space with Sky Movies Gold/Sky Box Office 2, The Racing Channel and Galavision, airing five hours a day. It was designed for cable as it had specific local weather; in some areas, it was carried on cable providers 24 hours a day.
  • TWC also ran The Weather Channel Latin America, a Spanish language network serving Mexico, Puerto Rico and South America; this network ceased operations in December 2002. The channel's three original on-camera weather presenters were Paola Elorza, Sal Morales and Mari Carmen Ramos; all three left the channel within a year of its launch and went on to work for Univision in Miami, Telemundo in Los Angeles, and CNN International, respectively. At one point, there was also a Portuguese version in Brazil.

Local on the 8s

Main article: Local on the 8s

Since its inception, The Weather Channel has incorporated local forecasts using WeatherStar computers installed at cable headends. Until 1995, the forecasts had aired at various times each hour, but are currently shown at times ending in "8", hence the title of the local forecasts is "Local on the 8s" (though local forecasts are reduced to once every half-hour when non-forecast programs are aired, which now comprise the majority of the broadcast day). With the introduction of the current IntelliStar system, traffic information was also incorporated alongside local weather information, in areas where (via its TrafficPulse service) provides traffic data; however, traffic information was discontinued from the local forecast segments in 2010.

The WeatherStar systems also utilize a Lower Display Line (LDL) on the bottom of the screen during local forecasts and national programming, providing current conditions for a specific location and two or three towns within 15 miles, almanac data and forecasts on cable headends using the IntelliStar system and only current conditions, and forecasts on cable headends using WeatherStar XL and older models. WeatherStar units also allow cable providers to scroll text messages when in use, including the capability to broadcast severe weather advisories and warnings when severe weather occurs in a given area, displaying warnings for the county in which the WeatherStar system's cable headend is located and surrounding counties in the immediate area.

Other services


Main article: Weatherscan

Weatherscan (originally called Weatherscan Local from 1999 to 2003) is a digital cable and satellite channel that operates as a sister network of The Weather Channel. Launched in 1999, Weatherscan is available on some cable providers in the United States, often on their digital cable lineups, though it is available in fewer markets than The Weather Channel; some providers, however, place the channel on their basic cable tier alongside The Weather Channel, a separate feed for satellite subscribers on Dish Network launched in the summer of 2010.

Weatherscan's forecast products are generated by an IntelliStar unit at the cable provider's headend, which is configured differently than the IntelliStars used by The Weather Channel, in that different graphics and additional weather products are featured and that the service airs an uninterrupted, rolling local weather format with information being shown on a continuous loop. Similar to the now-defunct NBC Weather Plus, Weatherscan displays an "L"-bar that provides current conditions and weather forecasts for a particular location and the surrounding area at all times during programming, with weather information also being shown on a smaller screen surrounding the "L"-bar.

Radio and newspaper presence

The Weather Channel provides forecasts for satellite radio provider Sirius XM Radio in the United States. Both services run regional forecasts on one station and operate several combined local weather and traffic stations for major metropolitan areas.

TWC also has content partnerships with a number of local U.S. radio stations to provide local forecasts, using announcers separate from the television channel. For some affiliates, The Weather Channel actually provides a limited amount of live coverage during local severe weather (with the Georgia-based announcers connected via ISDN). Distribution of TWC radio content is currently handled by Dial Global.

Similarly, TWC also provides weather reports for a number of newspapers around the United States. This included a half-page national forecast for USA Today until September 2012, when rival AccuWeather replaced The Weather Channel as the paper's forecast provider.[10] TWC's forecasts were replaced with those provided by AccuWeather on the website one month later.

Online services

TWC provides numerous customized forecasts for online users through its website,, including home and garden, and event planning forecasts. It also provides WAP access for mobile phone users, desktop widgets for quick reference by computer users, and customized weather feeds for individual websites. It follows a two-tiered service model, with the free service bearing advertisements and its pay service ("Desktop Max") not incorporating ads and having enhanced radar and mapping functions. Cell phone customers are also able to have local forecasts sent to their mobile handsets from TWC via SMS by sending a text message with their ZIP code to 42278, which spells "4cast". Other services include Yahoo!, in which the weather forecasts are provided by TWC.[11]

In addition, The Weather Channel maintains apps for the iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, and Windows mobile and tablet platforms. Aside from location-based weather forecast information, the apps provide radar maps, and tropical and seasonal updates, as well as social media related functions that track weather-related Twitter messages and allow users to send Facebook friends severe weather alerts.

In July 2012, The Weather Channel purchased rival weather website Weather Underground. While TWC had already has had success with its own mobile apps, it plans to use Weather Underground's large network of digital forecasting and tracking websites to bolster its digital growth. Weather Underground operates separately from The Weather Channel and continues to provide its own forecasts, though its website incorporates some weather news and video content from TWC.[12]

The Weather Channel HD

The Weather Channel HD is a 1080i high definition simulcast of The Weather Channel that launched on September 26, 2007. DirecTV was the first provider to add the HD feed. At that time, no programming was actually presented in high definition, except for a national "satellite" version of the Local on the 8s. The channel premiered its first high definition programs on October 1, 2007, with the debuts of Epic Conditions and WeatherVentures; these were followed by the premiere of When Weather Changed History on January 6, 2008.

Throughout the final months of 2007 to the early months of 2008, various cable providers began adding The Weather Channel HD to their channel lineups, including those in the Boston, Massachusetts, Austin, Texas, San Antonio, Texas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana markets.[13] It began to be carried on Dish Network on May 13, 2008. Comcast later began adding the HD feed in some select markets such as Chicago. Time Warner Cable and Cablevision, both of which serve the New York metropolitan area, also added the HD feed in late July 2008. The IntelliStar 2, which provides Local on the 8's segments in HD, was officially released in July 2010.[14] The IntelliStar 2 features an animated Lower Display Line, current conditions for a given location and its surrounding areas, weather bulletins, regional and local doppler radar loops, and local forecasts for the following several hours, the next 24 to 72 hours, and the next seven days. Voice narration is done by Jim Cantore.[14] The system gradually rolled out to major cable providers across the country; the IntelliStar HD units will only be used on The Weather Channel HD and will not replace the IntelliStar or other units on TWC's standard definition feed or on Weatherscan. DirecTV added Local on the 8's to its HD feed on September 29, 2009.[15]

TWC began broadcasting studio programming in high definition on June 2, 2008. The new HD studio features various environmentally friendly technologies. As of 2013, all of TWC's programming (with the exception of It Could Happen Tomorrow, Full Force Nature, and older episodes of Storm Stories) is currently broadcast in HD.


Weather forecast programming made up TWC's entire schedule prior to its incorporation of weather-related original programming in 2000 (with few breakaways from its forecast programs prior to then, outside of the educational program The Weather Classroom). The number of hours devoted to TWC's in-studio forecast programs have steadily eroded since then, though its studio programs still air prominently within its morning schedule and air intermittently during the afternoon and nighttime hours.

The Weather Channel also broadcasts original weather-related documentary and entertainment series, and specials (known as "long-form programs", although TWC's individual forecast programs last between one and four hours, compared to the "long-form" entertainment programs of a half-hour or one hour in length); these programs typically run each evening from 8-10 p.m. ET, repeating at 11 p.m. (to align with the start of prime time in the Pacific Time Zone) and 2 a.m. ET. Long-form programs are also interspersed alongside forecast programs on TWC's afternoon and nighttime schedule.


On October 30, 2009, The Weather Channel, in a move deemed controversial by many longtime viewers, began airing weather-related movies on Friday nights. The first feature broadcast by the channel was The Perfect Storm.[16] After December 2009, these weekly movies were discontinued for the time being in favor of running Weather Center, which already aired throughout primetime during the rest of the work week. Despite the controversy, the Friday night film block resumed on March 26, 2010 with Into Thin Air: Deaths on Everest under the title "Flick and a Forecast." The Weather Channel meteorologist Jen Carfagno and MSNBC contributor Touré co-hosted the film block. During the broadcasts, the Lower Display Line that normally appears on TWC shows to provide local weather information (with breakaways during forecast and most long-form programs only for commercial breaks) was removed, appearing only a few times each hour during the film as a substitute for the standard Local on the 8's segments, with a TWC logo bug appearing at other times during the film when the LDL was not on-screen.

While the films shown within the "Flick and a Forecast" block were weather-related in some form, some films featured (such as NewsBlues reported the cancellation of the movie block on May 31, 2010; its removal was due in part to viewer criticism of movies being shown on what is intended as a news and information channel, as well as a snafu that occurred during a tornado outbreak in April 2010 that led a scheduled movie to be aired instead of wall-to-wall severe weather coverage. The "Flick and a Forecast" presentations have since been replaced by an additional hour of Weather Center and a two-hour block of long-form original programs.

Current on-air staff

In popular culture

  • The film Back to the Future Part II has a futuristic version of The Weather Channel that looks similar to today's logo in the year 2015 (but centered and without the blue box).
  • In the film The Day After Tomorrow, The Weather Channel shows a tornado warning for Los Angeles.
  • In the Season 9 finale of the sitcom Friends, Rachel Green is tuned into The Weather Channel in her hotel room in Barbados, as TWC on-camera meteorologist Melissa Barrington says it is sunny in New York City (the regular setting for the series); Rachel, as a result, calls her a "weather bitch".



The Weather Channel's original and most recognized logo was a blue rectangular box with rounded edges that debuted with TWC's first broadcast on May 2, 1982. This logo was revised in 1996, with the corners made less rounded and the logo becoming slightly flat. The URL text was permanently added underneath the logo in 2000. On August 15, 2005, the logo was overhauled again; the blue rectangle's corners are straight with no white trim on the edge and "The Weather Channel" text is now in title-case and left-justified, similar to its Canadian sister channel The Weather Network. A 25th anniversary logo used in 2007 featured a white rectangle edged in blue connected to the current logo with "25 YEARS" inside it in blue.

Since the purchase of The Weather Channel by NBCUniversal in 2008, the network has participated in the "Green is Universal" campaign, which occurs twice a year, usually being in April and November. The network's logo changes to a shade of green to showcase its support of being environmentally friendly.

May 2, 1982–October 1996  
October 1996–August 2005  
August 15, 2005–present  
Green is Universal/Earth Week
Green is Universal/Earth Week  
High Definition, 2008–present
High Definition, 2008–present  

Network slogans

  • "We Take The Weather Seriously, But Not Ourselves" (1982–1984)
  • "Weatherproofing America" (1984–1986)
  • "You Need Us, The Weather Channel, For Everything You Do" (June 1986–March 1991)
  • "Weather You Can Always Turn To" (1991–1996; U.K., 1996–1998; also used currently in NOAA Weather Network)
  • "No Place on Earth Has Better Weather" (1996–1998)
  • "Weather Fans You're Not Alone" (1997–1998, paired with The Front)
  • "Live By It" (2001–2005; also currently used in Australian version)
  • "Bringing Weather to Life" (2005–February 2008; This slogan is still used on and certain other materials, e.g. mailing labels; Slogan made by Lambie-Nairn)
  • "The Weather Has Never Looked Better" (June 2–late 2008; also slogan for HD broadcasting)
  • "Weather All The Time" (Coming in November 2013)

Hurricane, severe weather, and winter coverage slogans

Hurricane coverage slogans
  • "Keeping You Ahead of the Storm" (used occasionally since the late 1990s)
  • "Hurricane Central" (August–October 2005; 2012–present)
  • "Your Hurricane Authority" (October 2005; 2008–present)
  • "The Hurricane Authority" (2006–2007; 2009–present)
Severe weather coverage slogans
  • "Your Severe Weather Authority" (March–September 2009)
  • "The Severe Weather Authority" (September 2009–present)
  • "Tornado Central" (2012–present)
  • "Severe Storm Central" (2012–present)
Winter storm coverage slogans
  • "The Winter Weather Authority" (2006–2007)
  • "Your Winter Weather Authority" (2008–2012)
  • "Winter Storm Central" (2012–present)

Controversies and criticism

2007 global warming controversy

The website Capital Weather published an interview with WJLA-TV meteorologist Brian van de Graaff.[17] In this interview, van de Graaff stated:

The subject of global warming definitely makes headlines in the media and is a topic of much debate. I try to read up on the subject to have a better understanding, but it is complex. Often, it is so politicized and those on both sides don't always appear to have their facts straight. History has taught us that weather patterns are cyclical and although we have noticed a warming pattern in recent time, I don't know what generalizations can be made from this with the lack of long-term scientific data. That's all I will say about this.

On December 21, 2006, Dr. Heidi Cullen reacted to this by posting "Junk Controversy not Junk Science" in a blog on The Weather Channel's website.[18] In her blog, Dr. Cullen reacted by stating:

If a meteorologist has an American Meteorological Society Seal of Approval which is used to confer legitimacy to TV meteorologists, then meteorologists have a responsibility to truly educate themselves on the science of global warming.... If a meteorologist can’t speak to the fundamental science of climate change, then maybe the AMS shouldn’t give them a Seal of Approval. Clearly, the AMS doesn’t agree that global warming can be blamed on cyclical weather patterns. It's like allowing a meteorologist to go on-air and say that hurricanes rotate clockwise.... It's not a political statement... it's just an incorrect statement.

Global warming was voted #1 in The Weather Channel special 100 Biggest Weather Moments.

Programming controversies

The channel's original format was akin to that of a news and information cable network. Since the creation of the series Atmospheres in 2000 and Storm Stories in 2003, The Weather Channel has seen a gradual transition toward a mix of weather forecast programming and weather-related entertainment programming that paralleled the launch of sister network Weatherscan, the evolution of the always-on "L" bar/weather ticker, the development of and popular branded mobile phone applications, and the increased viewing and interest in documentary series programs on the topic of weather. Currently, The Weather Channel broadcasts a large proportion of its non-forecast content on weekends with twelve hours of the channel's weekend lineup consisting of non-forecast programming, along with nine hours of non-forecast programming each weekday. The decision to show movie and series content related to weather has caused criticism from many viewers and those in the media, who have criticized The Weather Channel for deviating from its format of running weather information 24 hours a day to run more infotainment programming.

The controversy further escalated on April 30, 2010, when The Weather Channel went ahead with airing the 1992 film Wind (a film about yachting that had little to do with weather, contrary to its name) at the same time a tornado outbreak was occurring in Missouri and Arkansas. Meteorologist Jim Cantore publicly stated on his Twitter profile that he was "severely misled" into believing the channel would cancel the movie in favor of tornado coverage and issued a public apology for the snafu.[19] TWC continued showing the movie while it was giving special "dual-feed" updates to Intellistar units in the area, but much of the affected area was rural and had legacy STAR systems (WeatherSTAR XLs, 4000s etc.) or satellite that did not support the dual-feed feature.

Cable and satellite carriage disputes

Dish Network carriage dispute

On May 20, 2010, Dish Network announced that it was dropping The Weather Channel at midnight ET that day in favor of its own similar weather information channel, The Weather Cast. The switch was due to high rates that The Weather Channel demanded Dish Network to pay (The Weather Channel requested a rate increase from 11 cents per subscriber per month[20] to 12 cents,[21] a nine percent increase, totalling $140,000 per month for all Dish subscribers), as well as The Weather Channel changing from an information-based channel to an entertainment-based one.[22] "Dish has chosen to be the first distributor to drop The Weather Channel rather than pay the standard industry rates others in the industry have already agreed to pay", The Weather Channel said in a statement.[21] The Weather Channel encouraged Dish Network customers to switch to other TV providers. Dave Shull, senior vice president for programming for Dish Network said Weather Channel fees are harder for Dish Network to stomach as more people get weather information online. "They're looking for bid increases when I feel like there's a real migration to the Web, and it's difficult to really justify those rate increases at this time."[23] On May 24, 2010, The Weather Channel stated that it had come to an agreement with Dish Network that would result in Dish carrying The Weather Channel for the next several years.[24] Despite the earlier announcement that The Weather Channel would be dropped, the channel was never officially removed from Dish Network. The Weather Cast was discontinued in anticipation of a Weatherscan-based service that would provide local weather information for Dish Network customers. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The proposed movie scheduled for the Friday after the deal was struck (May 28), Gorillas in the Mist, was dropped in favor of a six-hour marathon of Tornado Road.

2012–13 naming winter storms

Beginning in the fall of 2012, The Weather Channel has named major winter storms. The decision to start naming notable winter storms came as a way to more easily spread knowledge and raise awareness. By naming winter storms, TWC stated that the public would find it easier to follow storm information, social media will be able to refer to and discuss the storm, and people will have an easier time referring to the storm after it occurs.[25]

It officially named the nor'easter that hit the East Coast of the United States in November 2012 after the Greek goddess Athena. During the 2012-2013 season, The Weather Channel named 27 winter storms: Athena, Brutus, Caesar, Draco, Euclid, Freyr, Gandolf, Helen, Iago, Jove, Khan, Luna, Magnus, Nemo, Orko, Plato, Q, Rocky, Saturn, Triton, Ukko, Virgil, Walda, Xerxes, Yogi, Zeus, and Achilles.[26]

Multiple factors are taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to name a winter storm. This includes, but is not limited to, predicted snowfall and other precipitation, wind speeds, and the timing of the storm.[25]

The Weather Channel has provided the reasoning behind why they named some of the storms: Athena,[27] Brutus,[28] Gandolf,[29] Iago,[30] Khan,[31] Luna,[32] Magnus,[33] Nemo,[34] Saturn,[35] and Virgil.[36]

In response, the National Weather Service announced on November 7, 2012 that it would not recognize The Weather Channel’s name for winter storms, stating in a press release that it "does not use the name of winter storms in its products."[37][38][39]

See also


External links

  • - Official website
  • Interactive tour of TWC's new studio powered by Cisco Systems
  • Local forecast music

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