A little tough to share this, but after 33 years in TV (17 at ABC 7 News – WJLA) Doug Hill has decided to retire. Before you reach for the tissues, we have some time left! More than a colleague, a mentor and good friend, can you believe we have been working side-by-side for the past 20 this June. #ThanksDoug http://wjla.com/news/local/abc7s-chief-meteorologist-doug-hill-announces-plans-for-retirement

Posted by Brian van de Graaff on Wednesday, May 10, 2017

For 33 years, meteorologist Doug Hill has entered the living rooms of Washingtonians, navigating them through sunny days and violent storms, earning their trust and becoming like family. On Wednesday, local ABC affiliate WJLA announced that he will retire in September.

“I’ve been very fortunate to make a career out of a childhood hobby,” Hill said. “I love what I’ve been able to do here at ABC7.”

In his decades of broadcasting, Hill endeared himself to viewers with his calm and friendly delivery.

“Weather reporting in our area won’t be the same without him,” one fan said on Facebook.

“Truly a legend,” another said.

A huge influence on Washington weather broadcasting

Hill came to Washington in 1984 and was a meteorologist for the CBS affiliate WUSA Channel 9 for 16 years. He worked alongside esteemed D.C. weather broadcasters Gordon Barnes and Topper Shutt, now the chief meteorologist at WUSA.

Shutt, a Washington area native, said Hill helped bring him to Washington in 1988 after a stint working in Greensboro, N.C. “Doug is quite simply the reason I came back home,” Shutt said. “[H]e is a true professional and one of the kindest in our industry.”

In 2000, Hill moved from WUSA to WJLA to become its chief meteorologist. During his tenure, WJLA’s weather team turned into a force — expanding to eight meteorologists, broadcasting weather segments not only on Channel 7 but also on News Channel 8 and, for several years, on the radio station WTOP.

From 2010 to 2013, Hill teamed with legendary Washington meteorologist Bob Ryan, whom WJLA lured away from NBC4.

“We had many years of friendly dueling forecasts at competing stations and three years as forecasting colleagues at 7,” Ryan said. “I wish Doug all the best as he moves from forecasting Washington’s fickle weather, to just sitting back and just enjoying the sky and weather.”

Hill was respected and loved by his younger colleagues, many of whom he mentored and helped earn jobs in the D.C. market.

“I owe a lot to Doug,” said Brian Van de Graaff, meteorologist at ABC7. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without him. But he is more than a mentor; he is a friend. A nice guy that’s fun to be around, and that’s what I will miss the most.”

Alex Liggitt, the executive weather producer at ABC7, posted similar sentiments on his Facebook page: “[H]e’s been a mentor to me, in addition to another father figure in my life, a good friend and someone I know I can always count on.”

From police officer to predictions

Hill’s career path to weather broadcasting was unconventional. After attending Towson University, he joined the U.S. Air Force and then became a patrol and public information officer in the Prince George’s County Police Department for six years. He was good on television and was encouraged to apply for TV broadcasting jobs.

“His big break came when applying for his first job at WWBT TV in Richmond, Virginia when the news director saw that Doug had a great presence on camera, however there were no news reporter spots available at the time,” CalvertLive.com wrote in an online profile. “But he did notice Doug had indicated a lifelong hobby in weather forecasting so, following a quick audition, hired him on the spot for the weekend weather job!”

After his first job as a weathercaster in Richmond, he spent 4½ years in Detroit before coming to Washington.

The next chapter

Once he retires, Hill said, he plans to devote his energy to his family and church. “I’ve been given a great platform to use my talents in meteorology, now I’m going to dedicate those gifts to Christian ministry and focus on my family,” he said.

Hill’s successor has not yet been named.