George Winterling’s contributions to weather forecasting

WJXT’s Chief Meteorologist George Winterling pioneered weather broadcasting with his revolutionary forecasting contributions that brought meteorology to a wider audience.

He died on the summer solstice in 2023, when the sun reached its highest point in the sky. Getting closer to the weather he’s been predicting viewers for nearly 50 years was like heaven.

Meteorologist George Winterling was the first to provide weather forecasts to audiences in Jacksonville and helped invent the field of television weather forecasting until his retirement in 2009.

In 1962, he explained to WJXT the need for meteorologists to provide unprecedented weather forecasts for the time.

“We felt that the media needed knowledgeable people to handle weather forecasting in emergencies,” Winterling said. “We didn’t have satellite photography back then, so we were drawing clouds on maps.”

In his early years, George designed and copyrighted Space View Weather Maps to show viewers the weather systems across the United States. He began predicting the chance of precipitation, and even tracked storms and weather events, capturing them with a 16 mm camera.

He used the same camera to shoot single frames to create an animation of moving weather.

“When high pressure concentrates over Texas in the winter, it’s very likely that Jacksonville will experience freezing,” George said.

WJXT meteorologist Mark Collins recalls George sharing many of these old forecast map techniques with the team. “In an age where meteorologists come and go, knowing the local rules can help you win the race to predict Mother Nature.” He points out that it took decades to understand , and that the analysis George taught him still applies to modern numerical computer models.

And George Winterling certainly got the upper hand by inventing new methods, including what became the heat index scale.

One of his enduring legacies was the invention of the early heat index scale. In 1978, George coined the term “humidity” to describe the apparent heat a person feels by taking humidity into account.

Winterling’s various assumptions about the human body took into account temperature and humidity, and he was able to make a good estimate of “how hot it feels.” A year later, the National Weather Service adopted this scale as its heat index. George Winterling’s contributions to weather forecasting

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