With more than a month to go Noreen Clark is certain of the April 29 forecast.
It will be her last on WNEP-TV after more than 35½ years on air. She’ll reach the retirement age of 65 on May 1 and say goodbye two days earlier during her final weekend shift.
“I felt honored and thankful that I was able to work in the business as long as I wanted and I really did care about my viewers,” Clark said Monday.
Her sign off will be bittersweet from the station where she has worked since November 1982 with her husband Tom, who retired as chief meteorologist in December 2016.
They met at college in a class on natural disasters, dated, worked, married and raised a daughter Kristin.
They brought their work home with them.
“We never argued about the weather,” Clark said. Their topic of discussion made an impression on their child whose career choice nearly blew away her mother. They were in the car at the time, Clark recalled.
“She said, ‘Mom, I want to study meteorology.’ I said, ‘Don’t tell me that while I’m driving,’” Clark said.
Her daughter was responsible for building up the WeatherNation network and helping it get to the national level, she said.
Like her mom, she’ll be transitioning out of the profession in May and moving to Washington state. Clark said her daughter will work in real estate and her husband will be joining a dental practice.
Clark said she’ll be making the drive west with her daughter to get them moved in. When she returns home to Mountain Top, she’ll be taking on additional responsibilities and finally getting around to finishing the tasks that didn’t get done while she was working.
“I’ll be able to do things that I’ve put off,” Clark said.
After that, who knows, she added.
“I may pick up another job along the way. I think I may go in a different direction,” Clark said.
They could also head west too.
“We might eventually in a few years move out to Washington state,” she said.
Before any of that happens, she still has her job working the early morning weekend slot. It’s early to bed and even earlier to rise.
“I walk in at 2 a.m.,” Clark said, to prepare for the Newswatch 16 show at 4:30 a.m.
The technology has changed with more powerful computers and better graphics since she first started working with the National Weather Service nearly 40 years ago. But accuracy is still a challenge. “You want as much data as you can get,” she said of what would improve forecasting.
“I don’t try to knowingly deceive people,” Clark said.
To the contrary, she’s no fairweather forecaster, preparing and delivering the weather based on the information available.
“I try to guide people as best I can,” Clark said.
That’s what her husband Tom did when a tornado was about to touch down in Mountain Top in 2006. She was at home and watching when he told people to go into their basements for safety.
“He means me,” Clark said she thought and heeded the warning.
Over the years she’s heard complaints and compliments and taken the good with the bad.
She’s developed friendships with some of the weather watchers and made acquaintances with others she met while speaking to groups as part of her job. It helped her when she’s live on air outdoors for her segments.
“I know who’s out there watching and it actually has made me calmer on TV,” Clark acknowledged.