CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – After 33 years Eric Thomas – WBTV’s longest-serving weather personality –has announced that it will be retiring at the end of the year.
“That was a difficult decision and required a lot of soul searching between my wife and me,” said Thomas. âI don’t run away from anything; I run towards the other things that are still waiting for me! Words cannot explain how much WBTV and the Charlotte community have blessed my family!
âWhen I look at the weather team we have now with Leigh [Brock] and Jason [Myers], and obviously Al [Conklin] who has been by my side for 28 years – not just as a colleague, but as a close friend – I know that we are in good hands. “
The safety and information of the audience has always been Thomas’ top priority. “For 33 years Eric has shared his passion for the weather and for the safety and advice of our community.” said Scott Dempsey, general manager of WBTV.
Originally from Pittsburgh, Thomas graduated from Penn State University with a degree in meteorology in 1982. After four years as chief meteorologist at KNOE-TV in Monroe, Louisiana, Thomas joined WBTV in 1988, becoming the first certified meteorologist in WBTV’s history.
Thomas has been at the helm of WBTV’s weather team through some of the biggest weather events in Charlotte’s history, notably Hurricane Hugo in 1989, which made him an icon on the Charlotte television landscape.
“It was a war zone,” said Thomas about the damage Hugo left. âIt really hit me when I left the train station and saw armed soldiers from the National Guard directing traffic at the intersections. This area was paralyzed! Some people didn’t get power back for over three weeks! “
Thomas has been campaigning for an upgrade of the weather radar network in North Carolina for years, which will finally come into effect this year. “Eric has worked tirelessly to implement additional radar in areas of our market that have long had gaps in coverage,” said Dempsey. “One of Eric’s enduring legacies to WBTV and the Charlotte Market will be the addition of this much-needed technology in late fall 2021 that will help alert WBTV viewers to severe weather outbreaks in these areas.”
Thomas has received several regional Emmy Awards and the Certified Most Accurate seal from WeatheRate over the past 7 years. Perhaps his most cherished award, however, came in 2020 when he received the Dee Lackey Legacy Award in recognition of his efforts on behalf of Forever Family to raise awareness of the great need for adoption in the Charlotte area. Thomas helped create the weekly segment in 2017 after telling his own personal adoption story.
Thomas and his wife Vickie have three children and are expecting their first grandchild this year. “We applaud his commitment to our viewers,” added Dempsey, “and wish him and his family all the best in the next phase of their lives.”
WBTV has signed up as the first television station in the Carolinas and, according to research, is considered the “most trusted source of news and information” in the region. Being “on your side” for the community is the guiding principle of WBTV and helps drive its award-winning news programs and quality local journalism. Visit www.wbtv.com to learn more.
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