George Winterling created the idea of the heat index while serving as the station’s longstanding head meteorologist at WJXT in Jacksonville, Florida. At the age of 91, he pἀssed away on June 21, 2023. During his time in the U.S. Air Force in the late 1940s and 1950s, Winterling acquired meteorology knowledge.
He spent some time after leaving the military working for the U.S. Weather Bureau (now the National Weather Service) before beginning his career as a meteorologist with WJXT in 1962. He just had a barometer, a rain gauge, and a wind gauge that he mounted on the station’s roof when he made his first weather forecasts for television.
Yet despite the predictions made by the Weather Bureau and all other local meteorologists, Winterling used these technologies to properly predict that Hurricane Dora would impact Jacksonville in 1964.
Winterling’s reputation was cemented as Dora pummeled Jacksonville because local viewers were able to make hurricane preparations thanks to his forecast, which is said to have saved property and possibly lives. An inventive meteorologist, Winterling.
He produced maps of the Earth from orbit and marked impending weather systems on them before broadcast television could use satellite photographs of the weather. And in 1978, Winterling discovered a fresh approach to convey the real sensation of heat and humidity.
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In Florida’s humid climate, the thermometer’s reading doesn’t necessarily reflect how exhausting a hot day might actually be. Winterling created a method he dubbed humiture to combine temperature and humidity. The National Weather Service adopted this the following year and changed its name to the heat index.
Winterling was well-known for giving the weather prediction from “George’s Garden,” his garden inside the WJXT headquarters. He would provide gardening advice to go along with those segments’ forecasts. After nearly 50 years at WJXT, he entered semi-retirement in 2009 but continued serving as the station’s severe weather expert.
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