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John Hope
About North Georgia

Born:May_14, 1919, Pennsylvania
Died June_13, 2002 Atlanta, Georgia

Few north Georgia residents have had such a positive and long-lasting effect on the people of the United States and the world than quiet, unassuming John Hope. For twenty years Hope was the backbone of severe weather forecasting at The Weather Channel. He became a national icon during the Weather Channel's coverage of Hurricane Hugo, although he had been involved in weather forecasting for most of his adult life.

John Hope grew up in Eastern Pennsylvania where he witnessed the Great Depression first-hand in the heavily industrialized Scranton-Wilkes Barre region. After his mother died when Hope was 16, he began working at a local grocery store to help the family. John joined the Army Air Corps, where he served four years, mostly as flight navigator. For a civilian career John returned to college to get his degree in math, then continued at the University of Illinois School of Meteorology.

His first post-graduate job was with the National Weather Service in Memphis. In 1962 he worked on the meteorology team that helped John Glenn get into space, and returned him safely to earth some five hours later. As fate would have it, John Hope went on to become one of the people who created the National Hurricane Center in Miami in 1967. As the center was preparing the list of hurricane names for 1969, John suggested Camille as the "C" name, in honor of his daughter. Little did John Hope know that both he and his daughter would make history in 1969. Camille became the second most powerful hurricane to reach land in the history of the United States, and John was covering the storm.

John Coleman came up with the idea of The Weather Channel in 1981. At that time John Hope was wrapping up a 32 year career with the National Weather Service. Hope liked the concept of an around the clock weather network and when Bruce Edwards welcomed what few viewers were tuned in on May_9, 1982, John Hope was there. He served as senior meteorologist and was also seen in front of the camera, helping the struggling cable network through the tough times. He and his family moved to North Georgia, where The Weather Channel is located.

In 1989 Hurricane Hugo struck the coast of the United States in South Carolina. The Category 5 storm did immense damage as high winds and a high tide combined to create a storm surge of unbelievable proportions. John Hope was at the helm at The Weather Channel, calmly showing the storm, predicting the path and urging citizens to evacuate if possible. As the storm passed, letters began to roll in, praising both John Hope and The Weather Channel for its coverage of the hurricane. John had some favorite letters from those broadcasts: those from people thanking him for saving their lives.

In 1992 The Weather Channel had become a premier channel, considered a necessity by many, when Hurricane Andrew took aim at the heavily populated South Florida coast. John Hope was once again called on to lead the coverage, in spite of being 73 years old. Hope took a firm voice, warning people along a fifty mile wide, heavily populated area to evacuate. Andrew struck land near Homestead, Florida, and once again the letters began to pour in, thanking John for saving lives.

Time began to take its toll on the aging dean of meteorologists at The Weather Channel, so he skipped the 1997 hurricane season. Other experts filled in for the veteran weathercaster. His recovery was stronger than expected and he returned to the broadcast booth in 1998, speaking as he had for so many years from the Severe Storm Center.

Over the next three hurricane seasons John came to work perhaps with a slightly different goal in mind, to pass his knowledge on to others. Then early in May, 2002, John did not make it to the company party for the 20th anniversary celebration and by the middle of May John's condition was critical. Within a month he was dead.

Frank Batten, former chairman and CEO of Landmark Communication, had high praise for John Hope in his book "The Weather Channel: The Improbable Rise of a Media Phenomenon" Mr. Batten said:
John Hope literally personifies The Weather Channel to consumers, and he has been a pivotal person in our history. He is a role model to our staff and a symbol of what we stand for - integrity, expertise, reliability. Some call him the Walter Cronkite of weather.

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