NBC10 Chief Meteorologist Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz weighs in on the loss of former NBC10 weatherman Herb Clarke, who died Sunday at age 84 from complications of Alzheimer's.
I started watching Herb on Channel 10 back in the 1950s. He seemed to like what he did so much, that it helped inspire me into being a meteorologist. Forty years later, I had the honor of actually working right next to him on-air during a storm. It was one of the highlights of my life.
We interviewed Herb (and other early TV legends) as a part of The Philadelphia Area Weather Book. This is some of what I wrote:
“Since Herb was not a meteorologist, he used forecasts from the U.S. Weather Bureau, giving credit to the government forecasters and calling it the “official” forecast. This acknowledgment earned him the enduring respect of his competitors and other meteorologists in the area. His style could be described as folksy and reassuring. Viewers would not be frightened of impending stormy weather after hearing a calm, collected Herb deliver the forecast.”
“Herb’s television career in Philadelphia spanned five decades, he started with drawing on maps and closed using three-dimensional computer graphics. But, according to Herb, the main change is:’ Compared to what we’re getting now; there was time for a bit more togetherness with the audience. The viewer gets closer to the person doing the weather than anyone else on the news….we both care for the same reason.’ As evidence of this connection with viewers, Herb received between 40 and 60 letters a day. ‘I tried to answer them all’, he says. Herb retired from Philadelphia television weather forecasting on New Years’s Eve, 1997.”
Herb vividly remembered one of the biggest weather stories he ever covered, Hurricane Agnes in 1972. He was supposed to go to Harrisburg on the helicopter to relieve reporter Sid Brenner, but was called away at the last minute by the boss. He needed to write a special report for after the news. He then got a call from the police commissioner who was surprised to hear Herb’s voice. He had been told Herb died. The helicopter crashed, and Sid and three others did perish. Herb then paused for just a moment and went back to writing the special report, including the death of his co-workers. As usual, Herb stayed composed and professional throughout that ordeal.
Herb had many friends here at NBC10. Many have retired, but some are still here. He was a part of our family for 40 years. Herb and his wonderful smile will be missed.