Through her friendly and poised on-air presence and ability to convey complicated weather information in an accessible, entertaining and relatable manner, she has earned a huge viewer following as well the admiration of her colleagues and peers.
“We have likability scores and respect scores [tied to Palka] that are just completely off the charts,” FOX5 general manager Patrick Paolini told TVNewsCheck. “What’s great about Sue is she likes to have fun, too. … That came across on air for sure.”
While Palka will “sunset weather duties” in March, according to her announcement, she will continue to contribute to FOX5 programming and “do some feature reporting.”
Her colleagues at FOX5 posted numerous tributes on social media:
- “Heartbroken to hear the news, she is one of the truly great ones. She’s been such an incredible mentor all these years, and is one of the kindest people you will ever meet. She will be so missed,” tweeted Mike Thomas, FOX5 morning meteorologist.
- “Sue is as kind in real life as she is on screen. Her class is bountiful, her kindness humbling, and her heart huge,” tweeted Matthew Cappucci, who joined FOX5 as a meteorologist last summer and also contributes to the Capital Weather Gang.
- “Sue Palka is a pioneer and one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met. It’s been a true honor getting the chance to work daily with someone who IS the definition of ‘The Best,’ ” tweeted FOX5 anchor Angie Goff.
- “I’ve got time to tell you how much I love @SuePalkaFox5DC, but for now I can confirm she’s even more wonderful than you already thought,” tweeted FOX5 reporter Tom Fitzgerald.
Present and former colleagues at competing TV stations also shared glowing reflections:
- “I’ve always known Sue as my ‘weather pal’ and how everyone watching her has felt about Sue for almost 40 years. What a record of service in communicating our shared science and service to the community. Charge on Sue, you’ll always be our ‘weather pal,’ ” wrote retired NBC4 and ABC7 meteorologist Bob Ryan, in an email.
- “Sue is just the best! I am so happy for her,” tweeted NBC4 chief meteorologist Doug Kammerer.
- “Always classy, the best of the best, a true icon around the #DMV. Wishing you good health and happiness on your upcoming retirement from the green wall,” tweeted Steve Rudin, meteorologist at ABC7.
- “I have never heard Sue say an unkind word about anyone nor have I ever heard anyone say an unkind word about her. That about sums it up. Sue is just a wonderful person and did a fantastic job forecasting the weather for all these years. I know she will still be tracking snowstorms in her spare time. Enjoy your retirement Sue. You have certainly earned it!” wrote Topper Shutt, WUSA9 chief meteorologist, in a message to the Capital Weather Gang.
In her online announcement, Palka reflected on her decades-long run in television.
“To give you an idea how long I’ve been at this, when I started my weather career in Richmond in 1983, I drew the weather map (only one) with a magic marker over a plexiglass map of the United States,” she wrote. “When I was hired at FOX 5 in September of 1985, we had recently transitioned from magnetic boards to computer graphics.
“Maury Povich and James Adams anchored our only newscast at 10 p.m. and Ronald Reagan was the President. I’ve been here so long I’ve seen the Brood X cicadas emerge three times!”