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Weather Tracks More Series

The Weather Channel is set to roll out several long-form entertainment and weather-related reality series as part of its 2009-10 programming slate.

The network will also look to spruce up its live daily weather coverage with more in-depth analysis of the day’s weather-related stories and events in an effort to draw a bigger and broader audience to the network.

“It’s not your father’s Weather Channel,” said executive vice president of programming Geoffrey Darby.

Darby said the network — which this past February was acquired by NBC Universal, Bain Capital and Blackstone Group from Landmark Communications for about $3.5 billion — is not abandoning its traditional live weather coverage during the week, including local weather forecasts every eight minutes. Rather, it will look to enhance its reports during the evening primetime hours with more in-depth news-oriented coverage in which weather is part of the storyline.

Darby said the network will continue to get viewers ready for the day with comprehensive weather coverage during the 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. time period — which he dubbed the network’s “primetime” because it’s Weather’s most watched time period. As reported earlier, popular Today weatherman Al Roker will host a new hour-long weekday program Wake Up With Al at 6 a.m., beginning July 20. The show will lead into Your Weather Today, hosted by Stephanie Abrams and Mike Bettes, according to the network.

Darby also said the network will undergo a new on-air look later this year that will better keep viewers updated on breaking national and local weather news.

On the weekends, Weather plans to run its new long-form programming, including the return of its most-watched series Storm Stories, during a Saturday-night block beginning later this year.

Other shows on the docket include Cantore Stories, featuring Weather Channel personality Jim Cantore as he visits the most extreme weather environments in America such as the Louisiana bayou and the Hawaiian rainforests; Weatherproof, in which weather testers put everyday items through extraordinary weather conditions; America’s Worst Weather: Caught On Camera, which showcases amateur camera footage of some of the dangerous storms to hit the U.S.; and Tornado Chasers, which embeds viewers among scientists who chase major storms.

In addition, the network will produce Breaking News Specials that will air within 10 days of major U.S. weather events to reveal how people prepared for and survive natural forces, according to the network.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.