WNBC’s Janice Huff: Wild About Weather

WNBC News meteorologist Janice Huff sits down for a Q&A about all things weather, and life in New Jersey.

Courtesy of WNBC.
Courtesy of WNBC.

Meteorologists cannot catch a break. When April rolls around and there’s too much rain or the cold weather has not abated, they are inevitably vilified—as if they ordered up a 45-degree day the way other people might order a cheeseburger. But Janice Huff is long on smiles even in the midst of downpours and the odd hailstorm, as should be clear to anyone who watches her forecasts nightly on WNBC News and on the Sunday Today show. The longtime Denville resident, who says she’s in her 40s, attributes her sunny disposition to a love of weather in general. Even Jersey weather.

You grew up in South Carolina. Have you gotten used to New Jersey weather?

To be honest with you, living in New Jersey, in Morris County, is not much different than where I grew up. You have rural areas, cities, wide-open spaces with parks and grass. It’s kind of similar. I’ve noticed that the only thing that’s really different about people from place to place is their customs and accents.

So why settle here?

I’m very much at home in New Jersey. My husband is from Morristown, and I have family that lived next door to him. We used to visit in the summer to see my family. That’s how I met my husband—I’ve known him since I was 8 years old.

Do you now prefer the seasons to the year-round warmth?

Well, we have winter in South Carolina too; it’s just that winter’s very short. Winter is, like, a month. I like all the seasons except winter. Particularly after living here so long—thirteen years. I lived in St. Louis for a while, and the weather there is fascinating; they get all four seasons equally, three months each, all at full blast. Here you get eight months of winter. At least it seems that way. It’s the end of April before it really starts to warm up here.

You always seem perky during your TV forecasts, though.

I am. The weather doesn’t get me down. For me, the worse the weather is, the more interesting it is. I don’t like traipsing around in the weather if it’s snowing to beat the band; I’d rather be at home, but it never gets me down.

Do you hear a lot about people suffering to varying degrees from weather-induced depression?

Yes, weather definitely affects mental health. I always hear people say, “Gosh, I couldn’t live in Seattle because it rains most of the time,” but most of the time it’s mist, not like thunderstorms. Then there’s a city like Detroit—they get, like, 200-something cloudy days a year, versus San Jose where it’s sunny 300 days a year. I don’t know how you live in a place that’s cloudy all the time.

How much of a threat is global warming?

I think it’s a very real threat. We don’t do a whole lot of investigative reporting on our side, although we should because it’s something everybody has to be concerned about…Corporations get into big fights with the government over whether they should spend money—they think it’s something the government’s got to deal with. But as individual citizens there are so many small things we can do and should do. We can do things that will help global warming and still have a good time!

Have you noticed any significant changes in area weather since you arrived at WNBC fifteen years ago?

We’ve seen some: more active patterns in the winter and more incidents of severe weather, like tornadoes. I reported a moderate tornado a couple of years ago, and then last summer we had all that rain. We’re also getting hail, where the hail accumulates on the ground. That usually doesn’t happen here—it happens in the Rockies.

What’s the most exciting weather story you’ve ever reported?

Probably the blizzard of ’96. First of all, it was my first blizzard, and it was huge—it affected not just here, but the entire East Coast. The entire weather team camped out—Al Roker, Joe Witte, Chris Cimino, myself. Every single weather person was here. It was my first really big weather story in a big market. What’s fun about winter here is forecasting snowstorms. That’s when we earn our pay.

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