From Hurricane Hugo to Tropical Storm Elsa and every storm and heatwave in between, WBTV’s chief meteorologist Eric Thomas has been helping viewers weather the climate in the Metrolina area. But now he’s walking away from the green screen. The king of first alert weather has announced plans to retire after 33 years with channel 3. Viewers loved the weatherman and TV execs appreciated his likability along with his solid science. Thomas, a proud grad of Penn State’s prestigious meteorology program, has snagged WeatheRate’s “Certified Most Accurate” honor 7 years in a row.
He’s been lobbying for improvements to North Carolina’s weather radar network for many years. It looks like those upgrades will finally happen this fall.
It is no wonder that viewers are so protective of the first certified meteorologist to ever work at WBTV. Many years ago, following a rare Charlotte ice storm, an email circulated through the building WBTV shares with this radio station, WLNK. It warned of the closing of the parking lot’s rear security gate. Eric’s car had slid into the gate on the steep slope near Bryant Neighborhood Park. I made a joke on the Matt & Ramona Show about the weatherman losing to Mother Nature and Eric Thomas fans didn’t like it one bit. The phones lit up with viewers who thought I was trying to discredit their favorite atmospheric scientist. Note to self… anything perceived as Eric disrespect will NOT be tolerated by the Carolinians trusting him to warn them about deadly weather. I had to make it clear that I too am an Eric fan. In the hallways here at 1 Julian Price Place, he has always been as friendly off the air as he was when the cameras were on.
Being the captain of WBTV’s weather team isn’t his only legacy. Eric was adopted. He shared his “forever family” personal story on the air back in 2017 and turned it into a weekly adoption awareness segment. That “forever family” segment led to a Dee Lackey Legacy Award last year.
In his retirement announcement, the local legend said. “I’m not running away from anything; I’m running toward the other things still awaiting me!” I hope that everything that awaits him is sprinkled with just enough rain to grow his garden and more than enough sunshine to brighten his days.
– Ramona Holloway