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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Kevin Gregory helps bring weather to life at library, fair

Thursday, July 26, 2012

(Photo)
Following an afternoon program at the Putnam County Public Library, WRTV meteorologist Kevin Gregory broadcasts live from the Putnam County Fair Wednesday evening. Gregory interviewed 4-H Weather Grand Champion Kady McKean (left) about her project, asking McKean's opinion on the cause of this summer's drought. McKean is an eight-year 4-H'er and the daughter of Tim and Donna McKean of Reelsville. Banner Graphic/JARED JERNAGAN [Order this photo]
With Indiana weather at its wackiest and temperatures topping 100 degrees for the ninth time this summer, Indianapolis meteorologist Kevin Gregory couldn't have picked a better time to conduct his weather camp in Greencastle.

Gregory and fellow WRTV, Channel 6 weatherman Todd Klaassen Wednesday afternoon treated 60 youngsters to two hours of facts, folklore and fun relating to Indiana weather at the Putnam County Public Library.

"They're learning weather history," Gregory said before leaving PCPL to visit the Putnam County Fair and do the evening weather segment live from Greencastle.

Actually, all of us are living weather history, Gregory agreed.

"First of all," he said, "we've never been so warm. And, we've never been so dry."

(Photo)
WRTV meteorologist Kevin Gregory (right) explains how a tornado is created as fellow Channel 6 weatherman Todd Klaassen illustrates that effect in a bottle during Kevin's Weather Camp Wednesday afternoon at the Putnam County Public Library. Banner Graphic/ERIC BERNSEE
But that's just 2012.

Gregory noted that most adult Hoosiers have experienced an array of weather firsts.

"On Jan. 19, 1994, we experienced the coldest day on record in Indiana, minus 27 degrees," Gregory pointed out, "and on Labor Day 2003, we experienced the wettest day ever with 7.2 inches of rain."

Just for good measure, we've also all endured the summer of 2011 and 23 straight days of 90 degrees or more, as well as the year without a 90-degree Indiana day -- 2004.

"So we've seen all kinds of records," the 1987 Purdue University graduate who joined WRTV two years later said.

"But we still haven't eclipsed the all-time high of 106 degrees, although we've hit 105 twice this summer (three times if you count an unofficial 105 reported in some places Wednesday)."

Gregory enjoyed kidding with the campers, asking if they knew what he and Todd hold in their hands while doing the weather on TV.

"No, not a microphone," he said, responding to several youngsters at once. "It's actually a garage door opener, and we use it to change our maps.

"So next time you're driving past Channel 8 or Channel 13 in Indianapolis, ask your parents for the garage door opener and just start hitting it like mad. You might mess them up.

"You guys believe me?" he asked. "You know there's only a 30 percent chance what I say is true."

Before this year, Kevin's Weather Camp had been a summer staple at The Children's Museum in Indianapolis. But Gregory decided to take the show on the road with only stops at Columbus and Noblesville preceding Wednesday's visit to Greencastle and the PCPL. Kokomo will be the fourth and final location.

"We try to bring weather to life," said Gregory whose life has been weather, what with father Bob Gregory the meteorologist at WTHR, Channel 13, for three decades.

That Kevin followed in his father's footsteps is amazing. After all, as a child he was admittedly "terrified of storms."

"We acknowledge that people are afraid of storms," he said of the Weather Camp program. "I was terrified of storms as kid. It's storming outside and I'm over in the neighbor's basement crying. That had to be an embarrassment to my father. We had no basement, so we'd get a storm, and it's 'I'm out of here,' headed to the neighbor's basement."

In reality, Gregory obviously has done his father quite proud, joining him on the Indianapolis TV weather scene in 1989 -- as a competitor on WRTV, Channel 6.

And as Bob Gregory's son, the No. 1 question he still gets is, "Were you the little boy all bundled up in that commercial?"

That was the legendary Channel 13 promo in which a mother wraps her child tightly in excessive winter garb because, as the ad says, "Bob Gregory says it's going to be cold outside."

"It wasn't me ... and it wasn't my mom," Gregory assured.

"You know who was in that snowsuit?" he asked. "Peter Billingsley."

That's Peter Billingsley, as in the little round-faced kid actor who played Ralphie Parker in "A Christmas Story."

Gregory believes his father's commercial was the motivation for the scene in that movie in which Ralphie's little brother is wrapped up so tightly in his snowsuit that he can't get back up when he falls on his back.

"That commercial was done exclusively for my dad and Channel 13," he said, "so they weren't playing it in Cleveland (where the movie was shot).

"It's a neat commercial," he allowed. "That people still remember it from the '70s says a lot."

Turning back to 2012 and the summer of sizzle, Gregory said there were positive signs last week that the spell might be breaking. Several places north of Indianapolis got two inches or more of rain.

"What we need," he reasoned, "is widespread rain, not isolated thunderstorms.

"Why is it so hot?" Gregory asked. "Because it's so dry and there's no evaporation and the fields are like blacktop. Why is its so dry? Because the Gulf of Mexico has been cut off (by a front), so we're not getting any moisture, and the Jet Stream is way up north in Canada ...

"Why? Why? Why? There are an endless number of reasons that weather stagnates and we get stuck."

(Photo)
Joining some 60 local youngsters on the floor of the Kiwanis Room at the Putnam County Library, personable WRTV, Channel 6, meteorologist Kevin Gregory shares weather facts and folklore with the group during Kevin's Weather Camp Wednesday afternoon. Banner Graphic/ERIC BERNSEE
Yep, Kevin Gregory says it's going to be hot outside. Dress accordingly.



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