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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 01/23/2008

Ranking the Local TV Forecasters

By Dan Stillman

Who's the best of the best?

You love 'em. You hate 'em. You rant and rave about them. You praise them for good weather, and blame them for bad. They are your local TV weather forecasters. And four of them have have predicted Washington weather for so long they've become household names. They've outlasted the tenures of various presidents, members of Congress, and Redskins coaches and quarterbacks.

Bob Ryan (WRC-4), Sue Palka (WTTG-5), Doug Hill (WJLA-7) and Topper Shutt (WUSA-9) all hold the title of chief meteorologist at their respective stations. But who's the best of the best? We here at Capital Weather Gang have given careful consideration to this question. Why? ... because we're just that wacky about local weather. And we want your votes, too.

Here's how we rank these veteran forecasters when it comes to credibility, personality and delivery. Each member of our team voted on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high) in each category, and then we averaged out the results and chose an overall winner. ...


It's always a plus when the forecaster seems to know what he or she is talking about, or at least sounds like it. Credibility is key to the success of any good forecaster. All four clearly possess this trait, but to what degree? Our team gave Ryan the slight nod in this category.

"Bob Ryan has been called the 'Dean of DC Weather' for good reason. He's very competent and stays on top of rapidly changing weather situations," said Capital Weather Gang's Kevin Ambrose.


Some meteorologists have a great sense of humor. Some project an excited enthusiasm for the weather. Others seem like they'd be great to sit down and have a drink with. Hill gets the top spot in this category, but there's something to like about all four of these personalities.

"I appreciate Topper Shutt's enthusiasm for weather, particularly snow. Above all the others, he seems most excited about doing his job," said Capital Weather Gang's Jason Samenow.


An accurate forecast is of little use if you don't understand it. There's an art to communicating any science to the general public, especially the weather. Palka edged out the rest of the field in this all-important category.

"Sue Palka may be the most outstanding communicator of the bunch. I've always found her demeanor and description of the weather to be easygoing and down to earth," said Capital Weather Gang's Dan Stillman.


As you can see, all four received relatively high scores in most categories, and the overall combined scores -- averaged across the three categories -- are quite close. "Doug Hill is the complete package. He's a strong forecaster, and has a smooth delivery coupled with a very likeable presence," said Samenow.

The truth is, we're lucky to have such a solid set of qualified and experienced meteorologists on area airwaves. That's our take. What's yours? Let us know how you would vote using the comments link below.

In future posts, we'll rank the morning and weekend TV forecasters, as well as each station's overall weather team and broadcast. And we'll present the results of your votes.

By Dan Stillman  | January 23, 2008; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  Media  
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I think the best of the bunch is Tony Perkins on Ch. 5.

He's the only one who puts a time-stamp on his predictions. He doesn't say, "snow squalls in the morning north and west, changing to sleet in the evening", but instead will say something like, "If you're in the Shanendoah valley, that changeover will likely take place between 3 and 4 p.m., so watch out for the ice." Very, very useful information.

Posted by: None of the above | January 23, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

During severe weather Topper takes the IBF, WBC, WBA and WWE Title Belts...he goes into your actual neighborhood on enhanced radar to show you where a tornado may be, and doesnt let the broadcast go to commercial until all is safe - I remember during Ivan when a F2 went on a northward track on the FX-LoCo line thru Chantlly. That was nasty...I'm suprised he rated at the bottom. Doug is the all-around champ though...wasnt he a cop in PG County? Top that!

Posted by: Dulles ARC | January 23, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I'm actually a fan of Topper Shutt. He sometimes goes on the Don & Mike show and is absolutely hilarious. My favorite line of his, "The problem with Clippers is that they will break your heart." I think he is one of the more reliable and accurate 'casters around. I don't have much respect for Bob Ryan - anyone remember last year when he replayed his forecast from the night before just to prove he got it right? I wonder if would do that for the many more times he misses the forecast.

Posted by: MoSno | January 23, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Doug and Sue are my favorites. They give way more information than the others and credit their audience with intelligence. But I am finding I watch little TV weather now that I have found CapWx.

Posted by: Science Teacher | January 23, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I like Doug Hill the most. Bob Ryan is very conservative in the snow department, meaning when he starts getting excited about it, then its safe to.
In terms of busting, its very easy to bust in this area.....I dont think its fair to say any one person busts more than others.
One of the things I remember most about Bob Ryan is how badly he missed that Feb '06 storm. He held out til the bitter end, then had to play catch up. I think though the next day he admitted he had missed badly

Posted by: Jay Reed | January 23, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Bob Ryan spoke to my highschool in Falls Church back in 1995. That guy has a HUGE head - which means he is probably running his own model's in there! And he was former president of the American Meteorological Society, which for me gives him the most credibility of the group. And I kind of like his goofy delievery, which I think is more enthusiasm than being goofy. And Samenow, didn't you intern for him!? I hope he doesn't see this poll! Thanks though, this was interesting.

Posted by: Nader | January 23, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Topper is the best! I am bummed he is rated lower than the others. Although growing up I did like Bob Ryan, I feel Topper has the better blend of personality, excitement and communication skills.. Bob just pissed me off with his anti-snow talk!

Posted by: mfg_21 | January 23, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I think Topper should rank higher in personality and delivery. He's always my first choice. I think you have it about right on credibility, but unless you miss things wildly I would say they are all pretty close in that department.

Posted by: RSM | January 23, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

I give Topper the nod when it comes to severe weather and Doug the nod for winter weather. I don't know how you can accurately judge the reliability of their forecasts for winter weather when they have to cover such a large and diverse metro area. If they only really worried about DC itself, I think all of them would be fairly accurate. There's a reason this portion of the US is one of the most difficult areas to predict weather. All of them handle it pretty well.

Posted by: CMc62480 | January 23, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I usually watch Bob on TV, though I like all of them. Doug's sense of humor really comes out on WTOP radio.

Posted by: Cosmo | January 23, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Why is'nt Bernstein on the list? Ridiculous

Posted by: P | January 23, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Thumbs down on Palka.

Posted by: vote Hill & Ryan | January 23, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

nice graphics! i like doug hill on wtop, traffic and weather together on the 8s...

Posted by: madison | January 23, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Go Topper - I knew he had some fans out there...has Bob Ryan lost us here? I personally know a national met that all of you know by name and face (whom I wont name! SORRY!) who is eyeing Bob's spot when he retires ala George Michael...and would be awesome to have here in DC!

Lets not forget T Pann who has graced us here at Capwx more than a few times...its good to be a man of the people!

Posted by: Dulles ARC | January 23, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

My favorites are Doug and Topper. I rarely watch Sue.

As for Bob, I have a love/hate relationship with him. I know he commands a lot of respect and has the reputation of always being right. I just don't get it. I don't think he is any more accurate than the rest. And he ranks very high on the "smugometer." Plus, he's a snow hater. Boo!

I'm going to jump ahead and comment on the overall weather teams. In this department, Channel 9 is the hands-down winner. Tony Pann and Howard Bernstein are both excellent. Kim Martucci is not too bad.

Over at Channel 4, I can't stand Veronica Johnson. The others are palatable.

Channel 7 has a good backup in Brian Van Der Graaf. He's much improved over the years. As for Joe Witte, the less said the better.

I have never seen any of the others at Channel 5.

Posted by: NoVaSnow | January 23, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Actually, Bob Ryan is quite the snowlover! Talked with him over the phone this past fall and he definitely wants a big snowstorm to hit DC... maybe we'll be rewarded in February or March...

Posted by: Kenny G | January 23, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I like Tony Perkins' weather forecasting syle and delivery. He is both professional and funny - but more importantly "accurate". So glad he came back to DC. Sue is cool, too! Bob is just OK.

Posted by: PJHolliday | January 23, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I like Doug and Sue best of all, too, but agree that I don't even watch them anymore since I come here for more timely/accurate predictions.

Posted by: missy | January 23, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Tony Perkins - period. End of discussion.

Posted by: Front Royal | January 23, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Best - Tony Perkins
2nd Best - Bob Ryan
3rd Best - Sue Palka

Posted by: Doc | January 23, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

I want a weather babe. If I am going to listen why we got more snow or ice instead of snow or whatever excuse they have I want is from a honey who is easy on eyes.
Put in short skirt and a revealing top and have her waddle on some 6in stilettoes and who cares. The stations ratings will go hope. That is why Fox News is so popular is baes in short skirts. And Dominica Davis is a hotty. If I want accuracy I turn NOAA or Accuweather. Lindsey Czarniak gets the ratings for 4 over her male counterpart.

Posted by: Weather babe wanted | January 23, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Lets be honest, weather forecasters are pretty much a joke. Their title is actually a misnomer. They're acutally weather computer "readers". They don't forecast anything, they read off the output from a computer with complex weather software which assigns probability from a model for them. All while they act like they had to do in depth research and analysis to come up with it. The typical local news "forecast" report consists of: telling the viewers what the day's previous weather was (even though all the viewers don't really care because they know what the weather was because they were there). Then they take several minutes to read off temperature values to viewers, repeat themselves half a dozen times using a half dozen different looking graphics...all with the same information.
And after all that what's funny is more than half the time their "forecast" is flat out wrong or not what they said which they never mention or own up to. Thank god for online weather sites, it's the same info the so-called forecasters use without all the wasted time it takes them to tell it.

Posted by: dcsackers | January 23, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure Bob Ryan can be fairly characterized as a snow hater, but he definitely downplays winter storms in DC. As the last month has shown us (not to mention the past few years), winter weather in this area deserves to be downplayed irrespective of the effect it has on the psyche of us snow lovers.

And don't kid yourself, Ryan is goofier than a hippie on nitrous. But nobody is paying him to be cool (evidently NBC4 has reserved that job for Steve Villanueva). I personally tune into to NBC4 for a decently accurate forecast, but more importantly, to see Jim Vance take the mick out of Bob on a nightly basis. Now that's entertainment. For a dependable forecast, its CWG or nothing at all.

Posted by: Parker | January 23, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Sue Palka seems to be the most accurate - much better than Lyin' Bob Ryan or Topper Shut-up.

Now if we could get them to stop saying "The storm will pass south of us..." South of us? What's that mean? Prince George's County? Southern Maryland? Richmond? Atlanta? Could they be a little LESS specific?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Not one of them could forcast their way out of a paper bag.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Bob is the nost conservative of the bunch and I sometimes hesitate to listen to his 11:00 pm forecast on a pending snow storm because he'll be the 'party pooper' to dismiss hopes of a big storm...but he is more often right. Basically, we're lucky to have solid lead mets on all the local stations.
Hey, anybody old enough to remember Louis Allen?

Posted by: Rob-rockville | January 23, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

I like all of the forecasters on Fox 5.

You know who I miss? Tom Sader. He used to be on Fox 5 a lonnng time ago as a meteorologist (well, not a long time ago really, just back 7-8 years ago). Does anybody know where he went? He was there doing "Bones Sader" in the greenscreen skeleton costume on Halloween one day and then he vanished without a trace. Ticked me off when I realized he wasn't there anymore, lol.

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | January 23, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Tony Perkins isn't even a forecaster, he's a reader. And his odd little affair with the traffic girl is very weird and offputting. to say he's the best is simply moronic.

Posted by: tmd | January 23, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

I remember when Willard Scott was the weather guy on 4. IIRC, he and Ryan switched jobs.

Posted by: wiredog | January 23, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

A few points of clarification: only evening weathercasters were rated in this assessment. Tony Perkins is the morning weathercaster on FOX, and will be rated with the other morning forecasters in a future post.

All of the four weathercasters we rated do their own forecasting and do not just "read" the forecast. They've all spent considerable time studying meteorology and are knowledgeable

The ratings are the average of all 10 members of the Capital Weather Gang (CWG). Ratings from the various contributors varied considerably. These kinds of ratings can be pretty subjective at the individual level.

Posted by: Jason, Capital Weather Gang | January 23, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Are you kidding me, Topper educates and informs. You can tell from his demeanor that he lives and breathes weather and storms really excite him. He explains them so well and what it means to us, rather than send us to get bread, milk and toilet paper!

Posted by: Rick | January 23, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

I've had the opportunity to spend some time with Doug Hill in a non-work setting. He's the real deal - what you see/hear on TV/radio is the real Doug. A nice guy and class act.

Posted by: marlee | January 23, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of names from the past...Anyone remember Bill Kamal from Channel 9 many years ago? Isn't he in jail now in Miami for soliciting a minor? That was such a shock.

Posted by: MoSno | January 23, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Topper is #1 . He is accurate, serious when he needs to be and humorous when he can be. Hill/ and Sue are tied at #2 . Lyin' Ryan is the biggest loser going. After all these years , he still hasn't mastered working the blue screen. LISTEN to his rambling commmentary as he often repeats himself a sentence apart.Close your eyes, listen to what he is saying and try to figure out what the forecast is. Didn't he get demoted years ago from NYC and the Today show when NBC moved Willard to New York? He gets beaten out by the "voice over " on The Weather Channel's "Local on the 8's"
Topper's the man

Posted by: jmsbh | January 23, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

I just remember growing up and watching Channel 4 news with the rents', that Bob Ryan would make a prediction, be wildly off (either well below or well above) the actual snow accumulation, and then the next day he would say "Just as I predicted". Honestly it was quite laughable. The story of him replaying the forecast from the night before made me chuckle and sounds spot on with my thoughts. Finally got it right so he had to prove that it was "just as I predicted".

Posted by: Laura | January 23, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I tend to agree with the sentiments of many of the comments about Bob. I am surprised that the old timer was rated so highly by CWG - I would never purposely go to channel 4 to see what he had to say about a storm. Doug and Topper are a tier above the rest of our local mets. Rick is right about Topper's method of trying to educate.

Posted by: Dulles ARC | January 23, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I have a lot of respect for all of the evening WX folks. My only criticsm is with Bob Ryan's delivery. He often gets tripped up by his graphics, as if he lost where was going with a thought. I hate to say this, because I think it's his eagerness to share a lot of information in a limited time that gets him into trouble.

Posted by: kgdave | January 23, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

To Capital Weather Gang,
How can Sue Palka's title be Chief Meteorologist if she does not have a degree in meteorology?

Posted by: Robert Smith | January 23, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Van de Graaf is the real "local" weather guy, he spent part of his time growing up in Annadale off Wakefield Chapel Road. He then moved down to Culpepper so he's got a pretty good grasp on the weather here.

Like George Michael, Bob WAS good once, but Doug and Topper do such a better job of telling it like it is without losing your attention.

Posted by: Jarrod | January 23, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Topper got Shutt out.

Posted by: Dave in Adams Morgan | January 23, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

They all are corny. Ryan loses his train of thought, Doug is too full of himself, Sue dresses like trailer trash and Topper well is just Topper!


Posted by: Angela | January 23, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Doug seems to say the least negative stuff about snow...

Posted by: missy | January 23, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

he'll never escape Kornheiser calling him
Lying Bob Ryan

Posted by: dice | January 23, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Lets not kid anyone all these guys are doing is reading off the model a computer spits out, which is why they all "guess" about the same thing. It takes them 2 minutes to tell you about 5 seconds worth of relevent information, which is the time it would take to read a forecast off the website. The rest of their "forecast" report on the local news is reading off temperatures on a map to viewers like you're in second grade, and then they spend another couple minutes repeating the same "forecast" they got from the computer using different screen graphics while dropping in meteorology terms..."high pressure in control", "an upper level disturbance" (like anyone knows or cares what that means, but it makes them sound important)...capped off with some lame conclusion "so don't forget your hat and gloves". Thankfully we can now get information online so we don't need to listen to bad weather "forecasters" (opps i mean readers) and biased news broadcasts.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Kudos to Bob Ryan for being conservative on snow forecasts.

I like snow as much as the next guy and, like Ryan, I'm from New England. But there's enough unnecessary hype here when even an inch of snow is possible. It's good to have someone dial down the hype, which is just used to drive ratings anyway.

Posted by: ah | January 23, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Well personally I think they all get way to much TV time and over dramatize the weather. I'm sick of on the 1's, 7's and or 9's however often they flash their mugs in front of the camera. I can go online and look at a computer model and come to my on conclusion which sometimes is far more accurate then they are. As a matter of fact if i'm watching the news and the weather folks come on I either mute it or change the channel....

Posted by: ks | January 23, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I agree that Topper has little personality and Bob follows behind a notch or two. That bread of meter thing is so stupid! And Bob's "golden shovel" matchs his hair. Sue is super wonderful. Maybe you should do a list of the worst weather people in DC television history? Can you say Alexandra?

Posted by: Vonda duPaul | January 23, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Check out the channel 9 ads that end with Topper trying to smile. Pretty grim, indeed.

Posted by: newkid | January 23, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Ryan's verbal tics get pretty annoying if you watch a lot of his segments: "wa-a-avy weather front", "Bob Ryan guarantee!", "bit of a respite", "scrumptious", "do your homework, kids!", and he's incapable of mentioning the pollen count without following it with the words "hayfever sufferers."

With all the forecasters, it really drove my blood pressure up when they'd waste time talking about irrelevant crap like the space shuttle, birdwatching, the food at St. Whoever's Orthodox Church, whatever. Cut to the ****ing chase!!

It's too bad Bill Kamal has a thing for 13-year-old boys, because in my opinion he was the best TV forecaster in the DC area. (Disclaimer: I never saw Louis Allen, he was way before my time.)

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

How about a rating for best dressed? Topper would be first and Bob dead last. Please, no more brown/tan/beige suits!!!

Posted by: LBH219 | January 23, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Topper just reminds me of an angry little gnome.

Posted by: Chazbochuckie | January 23, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Ratings update...there is actually a 4-way tie...all 4 are windbags that aren't good at reading the weather!!!

Save yourself time and bad humor go online,, etc...

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Re the post about Tony Kornheiser:

Are we sure that someone here isn't confusing Bob Ryan the Channel 4 meteorologist with Bob Ryan the Boston sportscaster??? The two are separate persons. It's possible that TK could have been referring to the sportscaster when he mentioned "Lyin' Bob Ryan".

I believe that at one time Bob Ryan (the meteorologist!) once did the national weather for the Today show (the job Al Roker does nowadays).

While we're rating the meteorologists, perhaps we should also rate the meteorological models. Every so often one of them (e.g. the current NAM)seems to wander from accuracy on a regular basis. (There have even been a few times when most of the models missed a local weather event. Unfortunately none of these recent misses has involved a snowstorm catching the Washington area unawares! But we have had a couple of snow/ice events which have failed to materialize after a model consensus resulted in the posting of a warning or advisory.)

Posted by: El Bombo | January 23, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

#1: Sue Palka. Totally agree with CWG on her easy ability to explain what's happening. Plus she's pretty good at TRYING to play down the hype when obviously Fox 5 wants to go nuts over the idea of a single freakin' snowflake.
#2 (tie): Topper Shutt. Although I really don't end up watching him all that much. Sometimes he comes off sorta dorky but it's clear he's knows his stuff and is pretty accurate. Plus he's hilarious on Don & Mike and I do appreciate snide humor.
#2 (tie): Doug Hill. I generally hear his forecasts on WTOP and for the most part, obligatory idiotic patter aside, he's on the money.
#4: I can't stand Bob Ryan. Half the stuff he says is babble and doesn't even correspond with what's on the maps. He's so irritating to watch that I don't even register whether he's accurate or not.

Posted by: weathergrrl | January 23, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

I like Hill, with Ryan running a close second. But you forgot the all-important "weatherman name" category, which the artist known as "Topper Shutt" wins hands down, blowing away the field like a Texas Twister running through a mobile home park.

Posted by: Bob | January 23, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Bob Ryan's such an idiot when the tells us "Don't forget to bundle up". Just tell us the temperature and whether its going to rain or not.

Posted by: BG | January 23, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Not a fan of Tony Perkins. He's just a "weather guy"...he's just reading what's in front of him. The other weather staff does all the work.

Posted by: Reston | January 23, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Some future poll should consider which channel has the deeper bench--Ryan is probably the most recognized/respected in DC, but the rest of the NBC4 bench is weak. WUSA's is better.

Posted by: GFP | January 23, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I watch Doug Hill in the evenings and listen to him on WTOP. I even followed him to Channel 7, which, by the way, I think greatly improved when they picked up the folks that other stations dropped. Doug Hill when to Channel 7 because Channel 9 wouldn't give him the equipment that he wanted. I appreciate the better equipment.
I do understand "weatherspeak" when it's used because I learned to forecast weather when I was growing up in New England, a difficult place to forecast correctly because of its location.
I wish that some source would provide us, the public, with the basic views so we-who-can can make our own predictions -- you meteorologists know what I mean. We used to be able to get to them in the early days of the WWW, before so much became pay-to see.

Posted by: Historian | January 23, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

You should also look at the back-up weather persons. I miss Hillary Howard since she left Fox but still find Sue Palka the best of the lot. Bob Ryan gets too involved in unnecessary trivia and electronic gimics and he often fails to leave written material up long enough to read. Add to that the time about a year ago when he and another forcaster were both on camera and Bob refused to let the other man say anything; whenever the other guy tried to say something--which during that segment was his job and Bob was supposed to be his backup--Bob continually interrupted him. Not nice, Bob. Victoria Johnson is quite good and I always know the weather story when she's finished.

Posted by: ajc | January 23, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

RE: Robert Smith
"How can Sue Palka's title be Chief Meteorologist if she does not have a degree in meteorology?"

No degree required to be called a meteorologist. A meteorologist is simply someone who 1) studies meteorology or 2) reports and forecasts weather conditions.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

The problem, uh, with Ryan, is, uh, that he, uh, punctuates his sentences, uh, with too many "uhs." I find him far more irritating to listen to than any other forecaster on the air.

Posted by: rep | January 23, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

My favorite "weatherman" was from the early 1970's and his famous line was "folks . . . I wouldn't sweat the thunderstorms 'cause the radar has also picked up a squadron of Russian ICBM's . . ."

Posted by: Uncle Dak | January 23, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I love Topper Shutt and Doug Hill is my second love. Bob Ryan is far too uptight and serious. If Jim Vance was not there to move the weather along, everyone would be asleep.

Topper, we love you.

Posted by: Forte11 | January 23, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Funny how most are critics of Bob. I bet a lot of these posters criticising Bob used different screen names. Good one

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Given the choices up there I'd go with either Doug or Topper. They're all good don't get me wrong but Doug has the personality locked up in my books for sure and Topper (like somebody else mentioned) really stays on top of severe weather and I like his attention and liking to snow.

Tony Pann is also quite good!

Posted by: Kenny | January 23, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I haven't seen anyone else state the obvious... We are unbelievably blessed to have such a sharp collection of TV weather reporters in our area, despite their minor faults and eccentricities.

Don't believe me? Just spend some time in a small town where the stumbling forecast delivered by the all-in-one news anchor/sports reporter/weatherman never fails to include "Let's see what we have ON TAP for tomorrow" and you'll find your patience tapped out rather quickly.

Posted by: Unbelievably Blessed | January 23, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Where can we vote?! I'd love to see what the public thinks! Can't believe Topper falls below Palka...c'mon! Topper's great, although I miss Bill Kamal (even though he has bigger problems then weather these days)--- and where is Gordon Barnes --- still in Dallas? Maybe you can do a piece on DC weather forecaster alumni? And how about a DC sports anchor poll?

Posted by: Peter | January 23, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

RE; Anonymous
"How can Sue Palka's title be Chief Meteorologist if she does not have a degree in meteorology?"

No degree required to be called a meteorologist. A meteorologist is simply someone who 1) studies meteorology or 2) reports and forecasts weather conditions.

While this definition is technically true out of the dictionary, I studied the weather, did reports and forecasts when I worked at the National Center for Atmospheric Research but had a degree in physical geography and would never dare call myself a meteorologist there. It is like saying because I study medicine and report on sypmtons of patients and make prognosis I am a doctor. Wrong. Some "meteorologists" on TV have degrees in meteorology = real meteorologists. Some have degrees in journalism, or broadcast meteorology = psuedo meteorologist. I'm not saying you need to study fluid dynamics or differential calculas to understand meteorology or use models, but you need a degree in meteorology to be one. In my opinion.

Posted by: Nader | January 23, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Ha. Gordon Barnes. Now he was a weathermans weatherman. Every time there was the slightest hint of snow he would start talking about winter warnings and watches and making crazy accumulation predictions. What a riot. Then he would dissapear every summer for about a month while he vacationed somewhere in the Carribbean.

Posted by: Old School DC | January 23, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Topper OWNS in Severe Weather. The others aren't even on covering it and he is there keeping everyone safe. Big points for this. Maybe if this poll was during the summer? Anyway!

I love Sue at 10. I prefer Topper at 11, but try to see them all.

While Bob does babble, he knows what he wants to say. Doug on WTOP/Doug Hill's Weather Now is great.

9 definately has the best weather team. Kim, Tony, Howard, and Topper. What more could you ask for? They double up during storms. Like I said, 9 owns the summer time.

Posted by: Chase, Luray | January 23, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I vote for Doug Hill. Hetends to be more accurate than the others, is easier to listen to, and gives you just enough data to back up his conclusions -- not so much that you feel like you need an advanced degree to figure it out. Doug and the CWG are the most reliable.

Posted by: ListeninInReston | January 23, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

I like Bob Ryan the best. Followed close behind by Doug Hill. Don't really ever watch Sue or Topper.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2008 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Gotta put a plug in for Gary McGrady at Fox 5. He's not the regular evening weatherman, but his presentation skills and predictions are spot on. He does the evening weathercast on Fridays and Saturdays. He also filled in when Gwen Tolbart was away, after she was injured in that bus accident. Gary is SO superior to Gwen as a weathercaster ... as good as Sue is during the week.

Posted by: UncleBill | January 23, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

I vote for Doug Hill. He's even nicer in person than on TV! (I've had the fortune of meeting him a few times over the years.) He's the complete package -- personable, clear in his explanations, interesting, and accurate. He's always quick with some little quip when on WTOP, which makes it fun to catch him on the way to work in the AM. Definitely gets my vote! My only gripe is that he's on Channel 7 now -- I'm not crazy about the anchors and I *really* can't stand listening to Joe Witte when Doug's not on...

Posted by: Lovin' Doug | January 23, 2008 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Of all the forecasters, I'd rank Ryan as lowest for credibility. When it comes to snow, he's always the first to cry blizzard. Also he tends to use the most wiggle phrases. It may snow today, but it also may not is typical of Ryan.

Posted by: Josh | January 23, 2008 6:42 PM | Report abuse

ARE YOU ON CRACK? Topper is by far the best, and no, we're not related.

Now this site's credibility is damaged.

Posted by: dynagirl | January 23, 2008 7:06 PM | Report abuse

There is absolutely a difference in forecaster accuracy! I know this because my company, WeatheRate, Inc., has been verifying TV weather accuracy across the country for the past five years. According to our extensive research, the same station has held the top honors the past three years. Unfortunately for them, it appears that their reign is just about over. Our current research period ends February 28, and there will be a new number one in D.C. As they say on the tube, stay tuned ...

Posted by: brucefix | January 23, 2008 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Realizing that this is a huge and diverse area to forecast weather, I hate it when they come up with those teasers like "Snow for the morning rush? News and weather at 11." You stay up to watch at 11 and find out that there may be a dusting in the mountains in far western Maryland. And I agree that they all seem to dwell on what happened during the day all around the region, often reading each temperature displayed on the graphic. Old news.
I like Topper and Pann. Ryan and Hill come off as a bit too cocky to me. But then it was Louie Allen when I first moved here!

Posted by: Grommet | January 23, 2008 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Bob Ryan drives me crazy!! He will never admit when he blows a forecast, which is often. I once called him on that in an e-mail, and his response to me was scary! I thought he was going to come to my house and eat my dog. :-) He was over the top. Took criticism very personally. And when will he learn to pronounce the days of the week? Mondee, Tuesdee, etc.

Posted by: bob h. | January 23, 2008 8:53 PM | Report abuse

1) Topper
2) Hill
3) Palka
4) Ryan

I would actually put Pann ahead in 3rd if he was an option, then Bernstein. Ryan is taking a lot of heat, probably due to the age demographic reading this board, but he is, at times, agitating..."Here we are in Warshington"...Good poll, but let the readers vote, like in the "old" days.

Posted by: PC | January 23, 2008 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Best "weatherperson" name? It's WRC alum Chikage (as in "Chicagi") Windler.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2008 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to everyone for expressing opinions and keep them coming. We're going to try and tally these and will report back in the coming days

PC: We do plan to use polls at some point in the future

Posted by: Jason, Capital Weather Gang | January 23, 2008 9:29 PM | Report abuse

All the posts about Topper being great sound a bit fishy to me. The slams against Sue are also a bit nutty as Topper has a degree in HISTORY. Just because you hold an AMS Seal does not make you a true Met. Bob Ryan would be a true met. The others are not (Hill, Shutt, Palka).

Posted by: Golden Honey | January 23, 2008 11:16 PM | Report abuse

I love Bob Ryan because I grew up with him and I love Topper Shutt for his snow enthusiasm. Nothing makes me madder than when a meteorologist reports snow as if it's a bad thing! But you said it when you said that we're lucky to have all four of 'em.

Posted by: Caroline | January 23, 2008 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Ummm . . . how about a rating for accuracy? I know that would require research and analysis and work, but what the heck.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2008 4:13 AM | Report abuse

By putting my comments to this site maybe alittle bias because I've worked in TV broadcasting for 43yrs, & I've come to realize that no matter how much modern technical machines you have, it's not a complete & accurate science. I've come to believe that "you can't fool Mother Nature" But at this point I have to go with Doug Hill.

Posted by: leadfoot bayse va | January 24, 2008 5:16 AM | Report abuse

By far, Topper leads the pack. I've been watching him since he was doing the weather in the morning on channel 9. His enthusiasm and his quest for snow excites the viewers and gives hope for a snow day. I met Bob Ryan a long time ago and he is completely full of himself.

Posted by: bernydoode00 | January 24, 2008 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone remember when Mr. Hill was often referred to as "Doug of Doom"?! Years ago you could count on him to offer the absolute most pessimistic forecast. He has certainly softened lately, but it's still the running joke around my office. When you just want that government closing announcement to come out, it's often heard, "What's Doug of Doom saying?" :)

Posted by: in Alexandria | January 24, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

here's a radical idea- why not actually rate them based on ACCURACY OF FORECAST.

as long as the media keeps rating people on "personality"- we'll get non-meteorologists like Al Roker who simply "rip and read" the weather with a big smile and have no clue what they're talking about.

Real meteorologists should accurately predict the forecast.

Ironically, just this week everyone (including the govt.) got it wrong with their "winter weather advisory" for midday light snow and freezing rain on tuesday.

Posted by: weatherguru | January 24, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

BTW, Bob was the only one I saw at the American Meteorological Society annual meeting in New Orleans. Its possible I missed the others.

Posted by: Bridgeplayer | January 24, 2008 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Having lived in this area my whole life (55 years) I would say that the best forecasters this area has seen were Louis Allen, Gary Shore, & Bill Kamal. Louie Allen was easily the best TV weather educator this area has seen. Gary Shore showed me some of his forecasting techniques based on a using a series of current surface and upper air maps rather than computer models, such as the LFM, that led him to forecast the 2/11/83 snowstorm many days in advance. I thought Bill Kamal was an excellent forecaster, but having met him, couldn't stand him as a person.

Having studied local temperature variations for more than 3 decades, I have found a majority of weather people, including meteorologists think they understand them, but don't. This includes TV weather people. Anyone who relies heavily on data from rooftop stations, such as Weatherbug, from late afternoon through early morning, except during summer when there is less variation, doesn't know their stuff as rooftops are noticably warmer than standard 5' temps. a majority of the time during the other three seasons. Of the four covered, based on what they have shown on the air, only Topper Shutt and Doug Hill, mostly from his Channel 9 days, get passing grades and Topper, at B-, is the best of any on-air weatherperson in this department in Washington. (I haven't watched Channel 7 for anything in years because of actions taken by an executive there, and as far as I'm concerned, they compromise the integrity of anything that he may be responsible for. When he's gone, I'll watch.)

Overall, I think the overall quality of TV weather people in Washington have declined noticably over the past decade or more. As for the four covered in this survey in station order:

I have personally found that Bob Ryan, indeed, has a very thin skin when it comes to criticism. The fact that he was head of the AMS indicates that he has a lot of political acumen, but is no indicator, EITHER way, of his forecasting ability. He is a decent forecaster, but seems to downplay ALL prec. events until close to occurrence. If I see even a hint of prec. past day 4 in his forecast, I'm thinking major storm. By the way, has anybody else noticed how often he repeats repeats adjectives?

In general, I find that Sue Palka shows a steady quiet competence.

I've always thought that Doug Hill was pretty good. I still like to listen to him on WTOP radio and like his humor.

When Topper Shutt started at Channel 9, I had an uncomplimentary nickname for him based on his on-air manner and his over simplified graphics. After a while, finding myself listening to him without being able to see him on occasion, I found him quite competent. I think, overall, he may now be the best forecaster on local TV here.

Overall, except for today's radars, I got more useful information from the hand drawn maps of three decades ago than I do from today's computer graphics. Despite his other flaws, the best hand drawn map was by Barry ZeVan.

I can't resist a brief comment on Tony Pann. Although he is an excellent broadcaster, I find that as a forecaster he reminds me alot of baseball's Dave Kingman. When he goes out on a limb (more frequently than others) he can really hit a long ball, but he strikes out way too often.

Posted by: climateguy | January 25, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

I think Bill Kamal was and is an excellent meterologist. I belive he is one of the best and an excellent person. He came across as very human and spoke our language. I think the quality of TV wheather in Washigton has declined. We need Bill back. He knows what he's talking about!

Posted by: Letty | January 25, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Bill Kamal. We were very lucky to have him here in Miami and despite whatever happend he still is a great wheather man. One of the best Miami has had. I have to agree. Guy knows !

Posted by: Stacy Miami | January 25, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Sue is sexy. When she starts talking about a storm line slamming hard to our southern region I just melt. Her leather jackets don't hurt the visual either.

Posted by: Jack | January 28, 2008 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Glad to finally see some good responsible feedback from climateguy. I was glad to see that somebody remembered Gary Shore who was probably #2 behind Louis Allen. It was also good to see the weatherbug stations being criticized. Once the stations were too high on temps because they are on rooftops and too low now because the temps were tweaked. These so called mets should know enough about the weather to realize that and not use the weatherbug stations. Channel's 7 and 4 use them the most so the weather data should be taken with a grain of salt. Bill Kamal would rank #3 and sad to see that he has unjustly been put behind bars.

Posted by: snowloverbruce | February 1, 2008 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Bob Ryan is among the most overrated of mets anywhere living in the past. No wonder why WRC's ratings have been going down over the last several years - they're all old news over there. WJLA and WTTG are good - but as one person put it, WUSA is the most well balanced - both in terms of education & experience, but in personality, enthusiasm and delivery as well. They also have the best website -

Posted by: John | February 9, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Just a note on Gary Shore. Earlier today, Gary passed away as the result of a heart atttack. At the time of his death, Gary was employed by KCAU TV, the ABC affiliate in Sioux City IA. A memorial piece on Gary is viewable on the KCAU website.

Posted by: John in SUX | February 25, 2008 11:57 PM | Report abuse

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