(This story, originally published Monday afternoon, was updated Tuesday morning with viewer comments.)
His forecasts have been a staple of morning routines in Washington since the 1980s. On Monday afternoon, NBC4 meteorologist Tom Kierein announced he will retire June 22.
Kierein’s lively yet soothing delivery flowed not only through television sets but also clock radios and car speakers. For many years, he also broadcast reports on WAMU 88.5 and WTOP 103.5.
Upon news of his retirement, viewers heaped praise on the broadcaster on social media. He was “one of the nice guys…who let the weather tell the story,” said Glenn Mosher. Theresa Cover called him “reliable and so articulate!”. Eleanor Smith added: “I have so enjoyed Tom’s lovely voice and excellent forecasts.”
Viewers also fondly recalled his colorful descriptions of the sky, which he compared to fruits like raspberry, peach, and blueberry smoothies, as well as his sense of humor.
When Kierein came to Washington from Providence, R.I., in 1983, he joined chief meteorologist Bob Ryan who was delivering forecasts in the evening. Ryan raved about Kierein’s contributions.
“For a generation, Tom was the morning forecaster everyone in the D.C. area watched and trusted,” Ryan said. “He has been a terrific colleague and friend.”
Together, Ryan and Kierein formed the dominant weekday weather team in Washington for nearly three decades.
“I have had a wonderful career here at NBC4 and came along just as Willard Scott had moved to the ‘Today’ show and Bob Ryan had arrived,” Kierein said. “It was such an honor to work with Bob for so many years and to serve our many viewers.”
Before his television broadcasting debut in Providence, Kierein worked exclusively in radio. He completed his undergraduate degree in earth science at Indiana University in the late 1960s and then added graduate coursework in meteorology at the University of Maryland.
His NBC4 biography says he regularly gave seminars and school talks about the weather, and wrote a children’s book, “Weather”, published by the National Geographic Society. He’s been a member of the American Meteorological Society since 1985.
“I grew up watching Tom, and I was so excited to be able to work with him here at NBC4,” said Doug Kammerer, chief meteorologist at the station. “Tom is the professional we have all aspired to become. We will miss him as part of Storm Team4, but we are thrilled about the new experiences that await him in retirement.”
Kierein, who is an outdoorsman, said he is moving to Colorado, where he has many family and friends. “I’ve seen and done everything I want to do in Washington,” he said. “I’m going to explore the West, using Colorado as my base.”
He said he is planning an “epic road trip.” From Colorado, he’ll venture 3,500 miles to Alaska, where he wants to take the Alaska Highway and go all the way to Point Barrow above the Arctic Circle. He expects the journey to take several months.
“I know he will enjoy no more deadlines and more time with his family, or just drifting along in his kayak without an alarm clock,” Ryan said.
Kierein will become the third veteran meteorologist to leave Washington’s airwaves in recent years. Ryan retired in 2013. This May, ABC7 chief meteorologist Doug Hill announced that he will retire in September.
With Kierein, Hill and Ryan no longer working by the end of this year, the veteran broadcast meteorologists in the Washington market will be Sue Palka at FOX 5 and Topper Shutt at WUSA9.