Chief Meteorologist Eric Thomas to retire after 33 years at WBTV
Thomas said, “I’m not running away from anything; I’m running toward the other things still awaiting me!”
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - After 33 years, Eric Thomas—WBTV’s longest-serving weather personality—has announced he plans to retire at the end of the year.
“This was a tough decision and took lots of soul searching between my wife and me,” Thomas said. “I’m not running away from anything; I’m running toward the other things still awaiting me! It’s impossible to explain in words how much WBTV and the Charlotte community have blessed my family!
“When I look at the weather team we have now, with Leigh [Brock] and Jason [Myers], and obviously Al [Conklin] who’s been by my side for 28 years—not just as a colleague but as a close friend—I know we’re in good hands.”
Keeping viewers safe and informed has always been Thomas’s top priority. “For 33 years, Eric has shared his passion for weather and keeping our community safe and advised,” said Scott Dempsey, WBTV’s General Manager.
Originally from Pittsburgh, Thomas graduated from Penn State University in 1982 with a degree in meteorology. After four years as the chief meteorologist at KNOE-TV in Monroe, Louisiana, Thomas joined WBTV in 1988, making him the first certified meteorologist in WBTV’s history.
Thomas was at the helm of the WBTV’s weather team through some of the biggest weather events in Charlotte’s history, most notably Hurricane Hugo in 1989, and which solidified him as an icon in the Charlotte television landscape.
“It was a war zone,” Thomas said of the damage Hugo left behind. “It really hit me when I left the station and saw armed National Guard soldiers directing traffic in the intersections. This area was paralyzed! Some people didn’t get power back for over three weeks!”
For years, Thomas has been lobbying for an upgrade to North Carolina’s weather radar network, which will finally come to fruition later this year. “Eric has been working tirelessly to implement additional radar to areas of our market where there have been long-standing gaps in coverage,” said Dempsey. “One of Eric’s lasting legacies to WBTV and the Charlotte market will be the addition of this much-needed technology in late Fall of 2021, which will help keep WBTV viewers alerted to severe weather outbreaks in these areas.”
Thomas has been recognized with multiple regional Emmy Awards and the “Certified Most Accurate” seal from WeatheRate for each of the past 7 years. Though perhaps his most cherished award came in 2020 when he was awarded the Dee Lackey Legacy Award in recognition of his efforts surrounding “Forever Family” to raise awareness for the great need for adoption in the Charlotte area. Thomas helped create the weekly segment in 2017 after sharing his own personal adoption story.
Thomas and his wife, Vickie, have three children and are expecting their first grandchild later this year. “We salute his commitment to our viewers,” Dempsey added, “and wish he and his family the very best in this next phase of their lives.”
WBTV was the first television station to sign on in the Carolinas and is considered the “most trustworthy source of news and information” in the area according to research. Being “On Your Side” for the community is the guiding principle of WBTV and helps drive its award-winning newscasts and quality local journalism. Visit www.wbtv.com to learn more.
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