Each Groundhog Day, The Weather Discovery Center honors individuals who have advanced the knowledge of weather science, climatology, and meteorology.
As Hall of Fame members, they help to represent and promote the mission of the Weather Discovery Center, which is to help visitors explore and understand the science behind weather phenomena.
Join us in February as we induct our newest Hall of Fame member!
Meteorologist Erik Salna is Associate Director of Education Outreach for the Extreme Events Institute (EEI) and the International Hurricane Research Center (IHRC) at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami.
Salna’s interest in weather was sparked as a child growing up in the suburbs of Chicago. He experienced lightening hitting a tree outside his bedroom window, the blizzards of 1967 and 1979, and thundersnow. These events started a fascination with weather that has stayed with Salna and has contributed to his focus on extreme weather.
Throughout his career, Salna’s focus and passion has been education outreach. He has participated in and presented many outreach programs, including the National Weather Service’s Owlie Skywarn Live Theater Show. Another public education endeavor is the development of Extreme Weather Experience, a one-of-a-kind company that will develop weather education/entertainment through experiential, immersive, and hands-on weather-themed attractions, rides, exhibits, programs, and live events. The mission is to teach people how to be prepared and to survive dangerous weather situations.
“I believe entertaining special effects and immersive techniques can be used to educate the public about extreme weather,” says Salna. “Immersing a person in a hurricane, tornado, or flood could cause a positive change in behavior regarding preparedness and safety.”
Every year since 2011 Meteorologist Jen Carfagno has covered Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney for The Weather Channel and has been on hand for the inductions of two of her colleagues into the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center’s Meteorologist Hall of Fame. This year, it’s Carfagno’s turn as she becomes the Hall of Fame’s sixteenth honoree.
A native of Collegeville, Pa., and a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, Carfagno says she had plans to become a pilot, but was well known in her family for her obsession with weather. “I was curious about major weather events we had in Pennsylvania and constantly tracked the weather. When I learned that mathematics— which I really liked— was a big part of meteorology, that sealed the deal.”
Carfagno’s path to The Weather Channel almost seemed pre-ordained. While still in high school, as a project for her senior computer design class, she created a “Local on the 8’s”-style slideshow using weather data she obtained on the Internet. Before completing her degree from Penn State, she interned at The Weather Channel and not long after graduation, she joined the company as a full-time forecaster. Over a period of years, Carfagno gained experience in several key positions in the company. Today Carfagno is a co-host of AMHQ weekdays from 5:00-9:00 a.m. ET.
Well known to people in the region and a fixture at Gobblers Knob on Groundhog Day, Joe Murgo, Chief Meteorologist at Central Pennsylvania’s WTAJ-TV is the 2018 inductee into the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center’s Meteorologist Hall of Fame.
Murgo received his bachelor of science degree in meteorology from Penn State in 1990, served as a Senior Meteorologist with AccuWeather in State College and then moved on to television, joining the forecasting team at WTOV-TV in Steubenville, Ohio, following up with time at WUSA-TV in D.C.
Returning to Central Pennsylvania, Murgo accepted the position of Chief Meteorologist for WTAJ-TV in 2001 and became the state’s first Certified Broadcast Meteorologist, a designation awarded by the America Meteorological Society (AMS). He later served as chairman of the AMS board of broadcast meteorology. In 2008, Murgo also earned a Television Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.
Janice Dean, “The Weather Machine,” Fox News Senior Meteorologist and author of the Freddy the Frogcaster children’s book series, will be honored as the 2017 inductee into the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center’s Meteorologist Hall of Fame. Ms. Dean will be our guest at the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center to accept her award at an induction ceremony on Wednesday, February 1, 2017 at 1pm. On February 2, Groundhog Day, she will join us again to host a reading from one of her books and autograph copies for attendees.
Dean grew up in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and experienced harsh winter weather there, developing an interest in how meteorologists do their job to warn people in advance of dangerous weather. After college, she began her broadcast career initially in radio as a co-host, reporter and DJ in Ottawa. She is a member of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), and in 2009 was awarded the AMS Seal of Approval. During her tenure at FNC, she has covered major storms including Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, and the Moore, Okla., EF5 tornado in 2013.
Louis W. Uccellini, Ph.D.
Dr. Louis W. Uccellini
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Assistant Administrator for Weather Services, and Director of the National Weather Service, Dr. Louis W. Uccellini is the 2016 inductee into the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center’s Meteorologist Hall of Fame. Dr. Uccellini accepted his honor at an induction ceremony at 1 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016.
He is responsible for the day-to-day civilian weather operations for the United States, its territories, adjacent waters, and ocean areas. Dr. Uccellini’s interest in weather began early on as he was growing up on Long Island, N.Y. In 1954, Hurricane Carol made landfall on Long Island producing extensive damage, and the following year, Tropical Storm Diane produced record amounts of rainfall in the area. He began his career in weather in 1978 at Goddard Space Flight Center’s Laboratory for Atmospheres in Maryland and received his Bachelor of Science, Master, and Ph.D. degrees—all in meteorology—from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Dr. Richard Alley
Dr. Richard Alley
Professor of Geosciences, published author, PBS host, and partner in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. Richard Alley is the 2015 inductee into the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center’s Meteorologist Hall of Fame. Dr. Alley will accept his honor at an induction ceremony at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 1.
Though he is a geologist and not a meteorologist, Dr. Alley’s passion is earth sciences, specifically glaciology and abrupt climate change, and it’s what he has become known for. He has authored more than 250 scientific publications about the relationships between Earth’s cryosphere and global climate change and how those relationships affect our weather and our earth. Alley is dedicated to engaging and educating his Penn State students and has been known to sing about the value of seismology in a parody of the Johnny Cash hit “I Walk the Line.” He considers his time at Penn State his career capstone.”
For his dedication and passion to tornado research, the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center will posthumously honor Tim Samaras, an engineer and storm chaser who lost his life in the May 31, 2013 Oklahoma twister outbreak, as the 2014 Meteorologist Hall of Fame inductee. The induction ceremony will be at 1 p.m. on Groundhog Day.
Samaras designed and built his own probes, which he would place in the path of a tornado to measure data inside the funnel. His research also included a focus on lightning. Samaras founded a field research team called Tactical Weather Instrumented Sampling in Tornadoes Experiment or TWISTEX. The team, whose work was funded in large part by the National Geographic Society, sought to better understand tornadoes. Severe weather expert with The Weather Channel, Dr. Greg Forbes, called Samaras “a groundbreaker in terms of the kind of research he was doing on severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.”
The Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center is pleased to announce its latest Hall of Fame inductee for 2013. Jim Cantore joined us in Punxsutawney on Groundhog Day – February 2 at 1pm – in the Weather Discovery Center lobby for the official announcement and ceremony.
One of the most recognized and animated meteorologists around, The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore can usually be found delivering live coverage in the middle of an ice storm, chasing tornadoes or reporting from the eye of a category 5 hurricane. A native of White River Junction, VT, Cantore also appears regularly on various news programs to explain weather phenomena. 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. Following the induction ceremony, Cantore greeted visitors to the Weather Center from 2-3pm.
The Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center is pleased to announce its latest Hall of Fame inductee for 2012. Fred Gadomski joined us in Punxsutawney on Groundhog Day – February 2 – in the Weather Discovery Center lobby for the official announcement and ceremony.
Host and co-producer of Weather World, founding member of the Weather Communications Group, instructor at Penn State Dept. of Meteorology, Fred Gadomski continues his research to further science education and communicate weather information to the public. A native of Massachusetts, his interest in weather ‘sparked’ at an early age and ‘led to a bonfire’ for the rest of his life. He has received numerous awards, one of which was being named broadcaster of the year by the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters.
A graduate of Pennsylvania State University, with B.S. and M.S. degrees in meteorology, Elliot Abrams is AccuWeather’s Chief Forecaster and Senior Vice President.
Earning both titles of Certified Consulting Meteorologist and the American Meteorological Society’s Seals of Approval for radio and television, Abrams has gone on to win numerous awards. He is an inventor and author with regular forecasts and analysis on many radio stations. He has been billed as “America’s Wittiest Weatherman” because of his humorous presentations.
Dr. Greg Forbes
Dr. Greg Forbes
As the severe weather expert at The Weather Channel, Dr. Forbes has reported on every dangerous weather hazard. After receiving his B.S. in meteorology from Pennsylvania State University, his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, he studied under Dr. T. Theodore Fujita.
He has co-authored and edited, researched and traveled. He was a forecaster in Sweden for a NASA project to measure the North Polar ozone hole, and he also spent three summers performing studies to improve lightning forecasting at the Kennedy Space Center.
Paul G. Knight
Paul Knight holds the title of the Pennsylvania State Climatologist, along with an impressive list of titles and jobs. He founded the Penn State Weather Communications Group and produces, co-hosts and is the on-camera meteorologist for Weather World, a weather magazine show seen on PBS, PCN and WPSU stations.
He holds both the American Meteorological Society′s and National Weather Association′s Television Seal of Approval and is a Certified Consulting Meteorologist. He had been the senior forecaster for The New York Times from 1986-2009 and currently is a senior lecturer of synoptic meteorology at Penn State University.
Jim Burton is the Chief Meteorologist for WJAC TV and WKYE FM in Johnstown, PA. Growing up in northeastern Canada, where winters are long, summers short, and thunderstorms rare, sparked his interest in meteorology. After an acceptance to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, he also worked at several radio and television stations in the area during college.
His television weather career continued in Johnstown after college, but branched out to Philadelphia and Washington, DC where he also narrated documentaries for the History and Discovery Channels. In 1998 he returned to WJAC TV and became the Chief Meteorologist. His community and school involvement is vast, and he currently is on the State Board for Special Olympics of Pennsylvania.
Richard J. Kane
Richard Kane is the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service, NOAA office in Pittsburgh, PA. His interest in weather began as a child growing up on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, and it continued as a member of the Naval Weather Service. After receiving his B.S and M.S. in meteorology from Penn State University, he entered the National Weather Service. His tours of duty took him around the country and to the Peoples Republic of China, as an international representative for NOAA.
He is a published author and experiences extreme weather up close! As a SKYWARN coordinator he urges communities to improve “communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property—before and during the event.”
Stephanie Abrams is co-host of Abrams and Bettes – Beyond the Forecast and Evening Edition on The Weather Channel. Growing up in south Florida she is no stranger to hurricanes. After receiving a B.S. in Meteorology from Florida State University and a B. S. in Geography from the University of Florida she began her career as the morning meteorologist at WTXL in Tallahassee.
After joining The Weather Channel, she provided in-the-field reports from wherever the weather was having the biggest impact—flooding in New York, tornadoes in Illinois, snowstorms in the Northeast. Her coverage of Hurricane Katrina was extensive. “When I was in Mississippi right after landfall, I couldn’t believe the destruction I was seeing was actually real.”
Jeff Verszyla is the Chief Meteorologist at KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh. A lifelong resident of Western Pennsylvania, Jeff is a member of the American Meteorological Society, the National Weather Association and the International Association of Broadcast Meteorologists. He also serves as a trained weather spotter for the Pittsburgh office of the National Weather Service. He received a degree in Broadcast Communications and English from Allegheny College and a degree in Meteorology from Mississippi State.
He began his broadcasting career on Pittsburgh radio and came to KDKA-TV from a TV station in Texas. While there he covered numerous hurricanes and chased “Texas-sized” super cells every spring. “My job is to inform the people of my hometown about the potential impact of a weather situation, so they can take the necessary steps to protect their property and, more importantly, their lives.”
Dr. Joel N. Myers
Dr. Joel Myers
Dr. Joel Myers was a graduate student in meteorology at Penn State University in 1962 when he began his career as a weather consultant to a Pennsylvania utility company. In 1971 his company became known as “AccuWeather” and it went on to become known as the world’s leading commercial weather service – and is now one of the most respected names in weather forecasting in the United States.
Until his retirement from teaching at Penn State he trained an estimated 17% of all practicing meteorologists in the U.S. He continues to serve as a trustee of his alma mater. Dr. Myers was dubbed “the most accurate man in weather” by the New York Times. The Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center is honored to have Dr. Joel N. Myers serve as its first recipient of the Hall of Fame award.