Hurricane Expert John Hope, 83, Dies

Renowned weather forecaster John Raymond Hope, The Weather Channel's resident hurricane expert since its debut in 1982, died last Wednesday (June 13) from complications following heart surgery, the network said.

Hope was born on May 14, 1919 on a dairy farm in Stowell, Pa.; he was the second of five children. He attended grammar school in a one-room classroom that he often reached by a long walk through the woods in the snow, according to a biography prepared by the network.

He joined the Army Air Corps, serving from 1941 until 1945. His career in weather began in the service, where he was a flight navigator.

After the war, he attended the University of Illinois and received his Masters of Science in Meteorology from the University of Chicago. While attending the University of Illinois, he met Bernice La Pira, to whom he was married for 55 years.

He joined the U.S. Weather Bureau in 1949 as a district forecaster in Memphis, Tenn. He was selected to join the Spaceflight Meteorology Group in 1962, entering the organization in Miami at the time of John Glenn's launch, and then moved to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Over three decades, Hope went from releasing and tracking weather balloons outside of the old Memphis Airport Terminal to working on manned space shots to the moon, and programming some of the then-largest computers in the world.

Along with his National Hurricane Center colleague, Charlie Neumann, Hope wrote a program that allowed countries lacking mass-media infrastructure to alert coastal populations in advance of the possibility of a typhoon or hurricane making landfall.

For this little-known technical work, Hope learned from visiting Chinese scientists in 1978 that he and Neumann were very well-known and appreciated in that nation's scientific circles, Weather said.

Hope joined Weather in 1982, after serving as senior hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Hope's many honors included the U.S. Department of Commerce Silver Medal, the National Hurricane Conference Media Award and The Neil Frank Award from the National Hurricane Conference.

He was forced into semi-retirement in 1997 because of heart problems. But after successful surgeries, his health improved to the extent that he was able to resume on-air forecasting from 1998 through 2001.

In 1999, USA Today
Founder Al Neuharth ranked Hope fifth among the nation's top 10 broadcasters, the only weather forecaster on the list.

In 1999, The Weather Channel established a perpetual scholarship through the American Meteorological Society in Hope's name.

In a 1997 interview published by his hometown paper, The Rocket Courier
of Wyalusing, Pa., Hope said: "If my legacy can be that I have made a contribution to this nation being better prepared to cope with the devastation wrought by hurricanes, and to have helped in the success of my company, I am content."

Hope is survived by his wife, Bernice; his daughter, Camille L. Hope of Macon, Ga.; sons James C. Hope of Lilburn, Ga., Dr. Thomas D. Hope of Macon, Ga., and Joseph R. Hope of Atlanta; his brother, Leonard Hope of Dalton, Ga.; and six grandchildren.