Weather loses long-time forecaster John Hope
Thu, June 13, 2002 11:00 a.m. ET
Julie Galle, weather.com
John Hope, hurricane expert at The Weather Channel, was one of the best-known and well-respected meteorologists in the business.
John Raymond Hope, one of the country's leading hurricane forecasters, died today of complications related to heart surgery. He was 83 years old.
For nearly 20 years, The Weather Channel viewers turned to Hope for information and guidance when tropical weather threatened their homes. He joined The Weather Channel in 1982 as the Tropical Coordinator and an On-Camera Meteorologist, becoming a key source of information for U.S. coastal residents during hurricane seasons.
He was cited as the "voice of reason" when broadcasting on The Weather Channel, and weather experts often acknowledged Hope as "the man America watches" when hurricanes approached the United States.
Hope's expertise in tropical weather reaches back to 1968, when he joined the National Hurricane Center and quickly rose to the position of Senior Hurricane Specialist.
But, Hope's devotion to meteorology began long before he shared his skills with hurricane experts in Miami and colleagues at The Weather Channel.
Hope was born on May 14, 1919. He was the second of five children raised on a dairy farm in Stowell, Pa. He attended grammar school in a one-room classroom that was often reached by a long walk through the woods in the snow.
Hope was a struggling high school student in Wyalusing and Meshoppen, Pa., following his mother's death in 1934. He worked at a local A&P grocery store following high school graduation in 1936.
Hope joined the Army Air Corps in 1941, and served for four years. His weather career began while he was in the service, working as a flight navigator. Like many in his generation, Mr. Hope returned to the United States following the war with a new sense of purpose.
He attended the University of Illinois, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and majored in mathematics. He then earned a master's degree in meteorology from the University of Illinois.
While attending the University of Illinois, Hope met Bernice La Pira, to whom he was married for 55 years.
Hope began his career in the United States Weather Bureau in 1949 as a district forecaster in Memphis, Tenn., where he worked for nearly 13 years. He was deemed to have the right stuff by the Spaceflight Meteorology Group in 1962, joining the organization in Miami for the John Glenn launch.
In 1968, Hope moved to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Over just three decades, Hope went from releasing and tracking weather balloons outside the old Memphis Airport Terminal, to working on manned space flights to the moon and programming some of the then largest computers in the world.
Along with National Hurricane Center colleague, Charlie Neumann, Hope wrote a program that allowed Third World countries that lacked mass media infrastructure to alert coastal populations in advance of the possibility of a typhoon or hurricane making landfall.
Hope earned international recognition for this technical work. He learned from visiting Chinese scientists that he and Neumann were very well known and appreciated in scientific circles in China.
Hope's enthusiasm for weather extended to young people in 2000, when a college scholarship was established in his name by The Weather Channel. The scholarship is perpetually endowed by The Weather Channel and administered by the American Meteorological Society.
Hope's many honors included the U.S. Department of Commerce Silver Medal, the National Hurricane Conference Media Award and The Neil Frank Award from the National Hurricane Conference. He was a fellow of the American Meteorological Society. Hope wrote about weather for a variety of publications and journals and lectured around the world.
Hope semi-retired from The Weather Channel in 1997, when heart problems sidelined him. After successful surgeries, his health improved to the extent that he was able to participate in hurricane seasons from 1998 through 2001.
When asked about retirement, Hope would smile and acknowledge "You might wonder... but I can only say I love my work."
He said there was "a certain satisfaction at my age, of being able to produce and be wanted by my employer."
In a 1997 interview published by his hometown paper, The Rocket Courier of Wyalusing, Pa., Hope said, "If my legacy can be that I have made a contribution to this nation being better prepared to cope with the devastation wrought by hurricanes, and to have helped in the success of my company, I am content."
Hope is survived by his wife, Bernice; his daughter Camille L. Hope of Macon, Georgia; sons James C. Hope of Lilburn, Georgia; Dr. Thomas D. Hope of Macon, Georgia; and Joseph R. Hope of Atlanta, Georgia; his brother, Leonard Hope of Dalton, Georgia; and six grandchildren.