Gary England

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Gary England
Gary England headshot, KWTV.jpg
Born (1939-10-03) October 3, 1939 (age 74)
Seiling, Oklahoma
Alma mater University of Oklahoma (B.S., 1965)
Occupation Television meteorologist
Employer KWTV
Known for Tornado broadcasts and technological innovations
Notable work(s) First Warning
Parents Hazel and Lesley England
Awards 3 Emmy awards
National RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Award for breaking news/weather, 2009
Oklahoma Hall of Fame
Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame
Governor's Humanitarian Award, 1999
Silver Circle Award
Notes

Gary England (born October 3, 1939) is the former chief meteorologist for KWTV (channel 9), the CBS-affiliated television station in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. England was the first on-air meteorologist to alert his viewers of a possible tornado using a commercial Doppler weather radar.[2] He is also known for contributing to the invention of the First Warning map graphic commonly used to show ongoing weather alerts without interrupting regular programming.

Early life and career[edit]

England was born in Seiling, Oklahoma to Hazel and Lesley England. He lived in Enid for a while but was mostly raised in the Seiling area. Like many meteorologists, a dramatic early experience with the weather shaped his interest. For England, one event stands out among the variety of memorable experience with western Oklahoma weather: the 1947 Glazier–Higgins–Woodward tornadoes which wiped out much of nearby Woodward, killing over 100 people. He counts other weather, including tornadoes, blizzards, dust storms, flash floods, and wildfires, as piquing his interest in weather.[1]

After graduating high school, England joined the U.S. Navy at age 17, where he first began to study weather seriously. He attended the University of Oklahoma and graduated in 1965 with a B.S. in mathematics and meteorology.[2] England then spent four years as a consulting meteorologist and oceanographer with A.H. Glenn and Associates in New Orleans.

Broadcasting career[edit]

England's first broadcasting job was a short stint at KTOK, an Oklahoma City talk radio station. England began working at KWTV on October 16, 1972.[3][4] A few months later, KWTV introduced the first radar system specifically designed for television and during a live cut-in by England on May 24, 1973 for a tornado warning in Canadian County. Channel 9 viewers saw the radar image of a damaging F4 tornado near Union City in Canadian County which resulted in extensive damage to that small town. The Union City tornado was also the first documented chase ever on a tornado. The National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) out of Norman placed numerous storm chasers around it to capture the life cycle on film, which was also a first.

An original video of England's live cut-in of the Union City tornado in 1973 is often still used today in Channel 9's promos of England and its severe weather coverage.

England is recognized, along with the firm Enterprise Electronics, as initiating development of the first commercial Doppler weather radar.[2] While the National Weather Service is the only one legally responsible for issuing warnings in the United States, England is credited with issuing the first televised Doppler weather radar bulletin for a tornado, in March 1982.[2] There is a dispute by some sources, as there was an earlier radar bulletin issued by Gil Whitney of WHIO-TV in Dayton, Ohio during the April 3, 1974 Xenia Tornado.[3] However, the radar used by WHIO during the Xenia Tornado was a conventional weather radar, not a Dopplerized radar.

In 1990 he helped create First Warning, a state map which appeared in the corner of the television screen, with counties colored in to indicate storm watches and warnings. In 1991 England also helped create Storm Tracker, a computer program that provided the audience with the time of arrival of severe weather.[5] First Warning And Storm Tracker are used nationwide. He also helped create I-News, a computer program that allows PC users to receive both severe weather and breaking news alerts on their computer.

On July 23, 2013, KWTV announced that England will be leaving his position at KWTV to become vice president for corporate relations and weather development for Griffin Communications, the parent company of KWTV. England will be replaced by David Payne, and England's final day as KWTV head meteorologist will be August 30, 2013. England's retirement had been anticipated since Payne joined the station in January, although England had previously said he expected to leave in October 2014.[6][7]

Other work[edit]

England had a cameo appearance (via KWTV's archives) during the opening scene and served as one of three 'weather announcers' in the 1996 movie Twister.[2] He also served as a consultant for the film.

After the May 3, 1999 tornado outbreak, he appeared in over fifty national and international weather specials. In 2007 England wrote and recorded part of the sound track for a weather oriented episode of the cable show Saving Grace. England has written several books on Oklahoma weather, including his 1996 autobiography, Weathering The Storm, in which he cited Harry Volkman as an influence on his career.[1] A new biography of England by Bob Burke was published in December 2006 titled, "Friday Night in the Big Town".[8]

England is a believer in global warming but is a skeptic when it comes to the notion that its cause is totally human. A KWTV promo was featured in a Daily Show piece regarding global warming on June 14, 2007. The piece starts with comments by global warming skeptic and Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe regarding The Weather Channel's chief meteorologist's statement that the American Meteorological Society (AMS) should not certify anyone who does not believe in global warming. Inhofe argued that The Weather Channel needs global warming in order to scare viewers and boost ratings. The Daily Show followed up Inhofe's comments by playing the Gary England KWTV scary promo where a family is running from a massive tornado, cowering in the basement, the family hears England's voice on the television and the mother says to her son (clutched in her hands) "It's OK baby, listen to Gary England, he's going to tell us what's going on". The Daily Show connects England and Inhofe as both being from Oklahoma.[9]

England is interviewed in an episode of Monster Quest entitled "Unidentified Flying Creatures" where he comments on tornado footage that captured a Rod flying through the sky. In the interview, he comments on the phenomena without going into any supposition regarding its cause.[10]

Pop culture[edit]

England is a pop culture icon in Oklahoma City and has a cult like following. He originated his own homespun phrase which became local folklore: "jump back, throw me down, Loretta...it's Friday night in the big town!" England is aptly described as having a "folksy and off-beat sense of humor and a persona that's pure country".[11] He is the subject of a popular drinking game for both severe[12] and winter weather.[13] In 2009, The Lost Ogle named England as the most powerful person in Oklahoma.[11][14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c England, Gary (1996). Weathering the Storm: Tornadoes, Television, and Turmoil. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-2823-2. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Gary England". News 9. Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Barnett, Michelle (March 28, 2003). "Eastern Oklahoma County Regional History Center". Retrieved February 20, 2006. 
  4. ^ Gary England Celebrates 40 Years on KWTV, TVSpy, October 16, 2012.
  5. ^ "Gary England". National Television Academy, Heartland Chapter. Retrieved February 20, 2006. 
  6. ^ Update: Gary England is out as News 9 Chief Meteorologist…", The Lost Ogle, July 23, 2013.
  7. ^ Mel Bracht, "Gary England to sign off as KWTV-9 chief meteorologist on Aug. 30", The Oklahoman, July 24, 2013.
  8. ^ "Gary England". NewsOK.com. Retrieved February 20, 2006. 
  9. ^ "Partly Pouty - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart". The Daily Show. June 14, 2007. 
  10. ^ Burke, Bob (2006). Friday Night in the Big Town: The Life of Gary England. Oklahoma City, OK: Oklahoma Heritage Association. ISBN 978-1-885596-57-4. 
  11. ^ a b Branson-Potts, Hailey (May 24, 2013). "Putting an Oklahoma spin on twisters: In Tornado Alley, Oklahomans count on longtime TV meteorologist Gary England for life-saving information – and entertainment". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-05-26. "A popular Oklahoma City blog recently voted England the most influential person in the state; Jesus came in second." 
  12. ^ "Gary England Drinking Game". 
  13. ^ "Gary England Drinking Game -(Winter Rules Edition)". The Lost Ogle. 
  14. ^ "50 Most Powerful Oklahomans". The Lost Ogle. 

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