Why the South has a Crush on Jim Cantore

Let’s face it, people—he’s the John Wayne of weather.

Valerie Fraser Luesse
Jim Cantore Reporting in a Storm
Courtesy of The Weather Company

We don’t know who said it first, but we’ve all said it at one time or another: If Jim Cantore is coming to your hometown, you’d better get outta there. Fast. We wouldn’t even need to watch The Weather Channel if Management would kindly email us Jim’s daily travel itinerary. As long as he’s going someplace we’re not, there’s no need to air out the storm cellar and refill the kerosene lamps.

Jim—we call him “Jim” because we feel like we know him—is always at the center of the action. He’s inside the eye of every hurricane, inches from the hook echo—always keeping a sharp eye on the Doppler so he can give us a heads-up if any cold fronts, warm fronts, wall clouds, snow clouds, Nor’easters, or blue Northers are headed straight for us.

He is to a weather map what John “the Duke” Wayne was to the silver screen. He owns it. And in the event of meteorological mayhem, he can sling scientific weather terminology faster than the Duke can cock that Winchester. If you listen long enough, he’ll explain all about tug action and why it matters that there’s a “heck of a gradient.” Just this morning, we learned the GSF and European models weren’t matching up—and you know what that means. The Great Lakes were experiencing “fetch” and “streamers,” and heaven help us if the Sierra loses that snowpack.

This very weekend, Jim says, the South is looking at a potential weather “event.” (Heads up, Georgia—you might be in play—and we’re looking at tricky travel in the Queen City.)

Sometimes, Jim can make us question our whole worldview: We’ve lived all these years and didn’t know about fetch? IT’S A WONDER WE’RE STILL ALIVE!!! Maybe that’s the key to our Cantore crush—Southerners always want to know why, and he tells us. This gives us something to talk about, and we are always looking for something to talk about. We are not a quiet people.

As spellbound as we are when our main man is at the weather map, there’s still room in our hearts for local heroes. In Birmingham, for example, James Spann is legendary. He’s the reason some of us haven’t abandoned our satellite TV packages and gone all Netflix or Amazon Prime—we can’t risk tornado season without James.

Wait! There’s a pattern here . . . Jim, James . . . could they be alter egos? We may never know for sure. All we can do is try to maximize minimal moisture and brace for the “two-headed hydra” that might actually bring snow to the Deep South. Give us gale-force winds or cloud-to-ground lightning, and we know what to do. But a single snowflake? Shuts us down. Every time. Everybody buy milk and bread on your way home from work today. Break it down for us, Jim.