Severe Weather Team 2 Chief Meteorologist Glenn Burns announced his retirement after 40 years at WSB-TV. His final day will be Nov. 22.
Read a special message from Glenn as WSB-TV celebrates his 40 years of service to the people of north Georgia.
A letter from Chief Meteorologist Glenn Burns:
In 1982, WSB-TV invited me to join its severe weather team. Being one of the greatest TV stations in the country, I jumped at the chance.
But I began my career, working at WPTV in West Palm Beach, Florida. I loved it there and did a great deal of interning at the National Hurricane Center under Neil Frank and Deputy Director at the time, Dr. Joseph Pelissier. One day, the General Manager of the NBC station in Minneapolis was on vacation in the area and gave me a call to see if I would be interested in joining his team. It was a larger TV market and they were going to bump up my pay quite a bit (a good incentive since I was newly married and ready to start a family) and also pay for me to go back to graduate school.
In 1979 we packed everything up and headed for the Great White North! I can say my education concerning snowstorms, ice storms, and blizzards really ramped up! I learned so much about the intricacies of snow, spending a great deal of time at the MSP National Weather Service. Little did I know at that time, it would pay off. The Twin Cities were great. However, all our family was still back in Florida and now with two children and 3 years of being the coldest I have ever been in my life, we wanted to get back down south. As luck would have it, a talent scout for WSB-TV called and asked if I’d like to come to Atlanta. Absolutely!
It was January, 1982. The wind chill as we all boarded the plane was -63 degrees. I was waiting for my face to fall off and hit the ground! I could not wait to get back south to the sunshine and balmy breezes. When we landed in Atlanta and our car picked us up, we began driving down I—75. There were cars and trucks all over the highway. Everything was shut down. From January 12th through the 14th, 4 inches of snow fell, along with freezing rain. Our driver said they were calling it Snow Jam. I told him in Minnesota, they called it Tuesday.
I found out the storm was a “surprise” weather event. It created so much hardship. People abandoned cars and walked home. 1,425 miles of surface streets, plus 200 miles of interstate highway were brought to a halt. I just could not imagine how this could have been a “surprise”. It was at that moment I told my wife that I would do my best to never let this happen again.
As it turned out, as far as WSB-TV and I were concerned, there were no more surprises in the 40 years I’ve been here. I clearly remember seeing the model data coming in for a storm in the middle of March, back in 1993. There was a lot of chatter but no real prediction of severity. Here’s where my Minnesota education had paid off. I’d seen this type of set up many times. I remember briefing the newsroom and telling them we would have the equivalent of a tropical storm over land but instead of rain, it would be snow. Our General Manager, Greg Stone, asked how much snow I thought we’d get. Most everyone was saying 3-5 inches. I said, “based on what I am seeing, 20 inches.” He said, “You’re not going out on the air and saying that are you?” I said “yes!”
As it turned out, 4 inches of snow fell at the airport with many areas from north Atlanta into the mountains seeing 10-20 inches with some higher mountains getting 30 inches of snow. I remember vividly the pictures coming in from Blairsville. People were getting around on horseback! Winds of 50 mph created waist-deep snow drifts.
In Severe Weather Center 2, we had no more “surprise” snowstorms since 1982. It takes a lot to gain people’s trust. We did that. No one was stranded in snow anymore. We were successful. People tuned-in in droves and for that I am very grateful. We gained their trust and we’ve been the go-to station for all modes of severe weather, including the major tornadoes in 2008 and 2011.
It has been 40 years and now it’s time to hang up my spurs. After a lot of soul searching, I’ve decided to retire. This business has really taken a toll on family life. My wife Susan, and my two children, Kimberly and Christopher, made many sacrifices so I could do what I loved. I am young enough now and in good health. Our General Manger, Ray Carter, and our News Director Suzanne Nadell have been amazing leaders to work for. I’m honored Ray has asked me to come back as Chief Emeritus, to join our new Chief Meteorologist Brad Nitz for the major storm coverage through the year. I’ve loved working with the great and talented Severe Weather Team 2. You will all be in good hands with Brad, Brian Monahan, Eboni Deon, and Jennifer Lopez.
For your loyalty to me and to this incredible TV station, I will be forever grateful. It’s been quite a ride. I will see you again from time to time but I just want you all to know, I’ve never taken your trust for granted.
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