A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS
Even when he's calling for blizzards, CNN Weatherman ROB MARCIANO has a way of steaming up the lens
Rob Marciano raises the temperature in ways most meteorologists don't. The 40-year-old CNN weather anchor's matinee-idol looks have won the Connecticut native a hot-and-bothered online fan base, while his comments last fall about the "inaccuracies" perpetuated by Al Gore's Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth made environmentally minded bloggers' blood boil. But for all his star power, Marciano, who also serves as a correspondent for CNN's American Morning, is refreshingly down to earth when discussing issues such as the global-warming debate, or the personal storms he's encountered—including Hurricane Katrina, which he covered from the front lines, and the havoc a bad weather call can wreak (at outdoor weddings, especially). Of course, there will always be some viewers who couldn't care less whether Marciano is calling for rain or shine. Who said a weatherman can't be a sex symbol? Darrell Hartman
How did you get into meteorology?
I've been a lifelong weather geek. I would drive my parents crazy. I knew exactly when every weather guy was on every channel, and I would switch back and forth trying to get them all. I learned early on that meteorology isn't an exact science—telling your teacher you didn't do your homework because the weatherman said it was going to snow doesn't really work.
Do you consider yourself more of a scientist or a journalist?
I studied meteorology in college at Cornell and struggled through all the math and physics prerequisites. When I'm not reporting on stories now, I'm getting the facts right, making sure everything is triple- and quadruple-checked. But in the end, we're telling stories on TV. I wouldn't go so far as to call it an art, but it's definitely a craft.
How did you decide you wanted to do weather in front of the camera?
I did a cost-benefit analysis—no, kidding. What I get to do, which my colleagues in science and governmental agencies don't, is have fun. It is fun to get on TV.
You covered Hurricane Katrina from the ground. What was that like?
For weather events, there's been nothing like it in modern history. After it hit, I thought I knew what to expect. But what was different about Katrina was that you didn't see how big it was until it was over.
Which images stick in your mind?
Every few minutes someone would wander up, sunburned and raggedy, looking for a friend or a loved one, or some water, or just some direction. They'd lost everything. It's a gut check, because I get excited about storms—the bigger and badder, the better. But you have to control your emotions and remember that people are affected.
You had a moment of notoriety after you questioned certain claims in An Inconvenient Truth on air. Was that a surprise to you?
I knew as soon as I said it that there was going to be a backlash. In the end, it created a buzz of viewer interest, and we did an hour-long special on the myths about global warming. I think Al Gore's message is a great message. I just want the facts to be accurate, and fact is that global warming did not cause Katrina.
Are there a lot of misconceptions about the role of the weatherman?
People think we always get it wrong, but for 24-hour forecasts we have at least an eighty percent accuracy rate. The problem is, people only remember the time it rained on their daughter's wedding. Because the atmosphere is always in motion, we'll never have enough numbers to put into a computer and make a hundred percent forecast. That's good for me—it's job security.
Millions of people make weekend plans based on your predictions. Does that ever stress you out?
I think it's a greater responsibility at the local level. I worked on local TV for ten years. You think a little bit harder about the weekend forecast, for sure. There are times you don't sleep at night. But if you fess up and say you're sorry, viewers will forgive you.
You have an Internet fan club. Did you know that?
There's a Yahoo group. The women who run the site are very protective of me. They'll e-mail and say, "Someone said something about you—is it true? We're going to reprimand them." They're my first line of defense.
Is it possible for a journalist to be a sex symbol?
I don't see why not. Presidential candidates have been called sex symbols. I don't think the label is exclusive to movie stars.