“For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.” -Vincent Van Gogh
The heavens and the stars have forever been a source of inspiration for us earthbound folks. Honoring the beauty above can help us find comfort here below, and it’s in this space that WDRB’s Chief Meteorologist Marc Weinberg finds meaning. “Looking up” keeps Marc dreaming big while pursuing his passions. This way he can both find comfort himself and be a comfort for the people in his orbit when they need it most.
Since childhood, Marc has been fascinated with understanding the beauty of the natural world. It was this curiosity that led to a pivotal moment in his youth. “In 1985, I went through Hurricane Gloria, and that was the defining moment for me,” Marc begins. “I’d not seen anything that strong prior.” The forceful winds and impressive rain Gloria brought crystalized Marc’s lifelong interest in weather. “I would draw it all back to that hurricane in 1985,” he says. This pull toward a deeper knowledge of our weather continued as he entered high school. As it combined with a love of math and science, meteorology was now a career option on Marc’s radar.
The seen and unseen elements in our weather intrigue and connect us, but it’s the invisible components that appeal to Marc’s science side. “Radar is an instrument we use to see what the eyes can’t see, so I became interested in radar meteorology early on in my career,” Marc says. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Doppler radar detects all types of precipitation, the rotation of thunderstorm clouds, airborne tornado debris, and wind strength and direction. “I wanted to understand more about the things we experience daily—in particular, the violent things we can experience with weather and how they occur,” Marc says.
Exploring the fierceness inherent in our weather – and the hit movie Twister – are two big reasons Marc took up storm chasing. “Storm chasing was always high on my list of things I wanted to do, even when I was very young,” Marc says. Storm chasers are people who follow severe weather phenomena, and this pursuit led Marc to attend The University of Oklahoma. In Oklahoma (where the yearly tornado average hovers around 53), Marc could attend classes at the best severe weather meteorology school in the world and chase storms.
“That first tornado I saw, I couldn’t believe it, and I wanted to see more,” Marc says. The process of storm chasing might look nerve-wracking to those watching safely at home, but Marc says fear isn’t a go-to feeling. “When I’m chasing near a tornado or a hurricane, I don’t feel nervous,” he says. “I’m more hyper-focused because you need to make good decisions because your safety is on the line.”
As Marc continued storm chasing, however, he was unprepared for how witnessing the true destruction of a tornado would affect him. “When I started seeing tornadoes killing people, that changed things for me and turned my career to television,” he says. Today, Marc continues to storm chase, but he focuses his attention on hurricanes. His last chase was Hurricane Michael in 2018.
Marc’s genuine desire to understand the power behind our weather has built a trust with his television audience—especially during severe weather. Severe weather reports can bring up scary feelings for viewers, so Marc does his best to tap into that same intense focus he uses while storm chasing. “We try our best to be laser-focused on what we’re dealing with in the moment so we can give people the information they need to make the best decisions possible to save their lives,” Marc says. In those high-stakes moments, emotions can be very difficult to manage, but Marc says that at the very deepest level, he and his band of broadcasters simply want to help. “I’ve built a life around becoming a radar expert, and I hope this can offer comfort to those watching in those seriously threatening times,” he says.
Off camera, Marc loves mentoring and helping others develop their talents, and back in the studio, he enjoys working with a team where he can watch his colleagues achieve their career goals and dreams. “That gives me a deep sense of professional comfort, and I love that about what I do,” he says.
In his downtime, Marc turns to his creative side to find a deeper sense of solace. “I’ve found photography to be a peaceful place where I can escape, relax, and find comfort,” he says. Astrophotography has become a favorite pastime that Marc discovered while quarantining during COVID. Turning his gaze from looking at the clouds to looking beyond the clouds had forever been a dream, so he finally invested in a telescope that would allow him to do planetary imaging. “It’s been fun to sit under the stars and relax,” he says. “We live in a world that’s moving quickly, and it’s a nice escape.” He adds that he loves sharing his photos with those new to astrophotography. “It’s become a fun creative outlet for me,” he says.
“We all have something that brings comfort and a different level of joy,” Marc continues. “That stuff deep in our soul is really important to express.” So, take time to listen and try that new hobby you’ve been dreaming about, or take that trip that’s always on your mind. Comfort comes to us in different ways, and the sky’s the limit when it comes to finding yours.
Story by Tonilyn Hornung