Weather Girl

For CBS2’s Jackie Johnson, staying chill while reading the clouds is all in a day’s work

Photograph by Dustin Snipes

➻ “I wanted to be a meteorologist at the National Weather Service. I never wanted to be on TV. I was too shy. It was something that just kind of happened during an internship with WKRG in Alabama. I wound up getting on camera, being really bad at it, and working to get better.” 

➻ Johnson joined CBS2/KCAL9 eight years ago and has been CBS2’s weather anchor since April 2010. She studied meteorology before earning a degree in broadcast journalism from Middle Tennessee State University.

➻ “When I come to work, I study the forecast models, which show barometric pressure, the weather systems, and the temperatures at different levels in the atmosphere. Once I have all of that information, I write down my forecast the old-fashioned way—on a piece of paper. Then I plug it into our weather computer system, which generates the maps that you see behind me on TV.” 

➻ The station’s news anchors use a teleprompter during broadcasts. Johnson relies on a mirror image of her and her maps; everything she says is unscripted.

➻ Weather maps began appearing on TV in 1936, with the BBC. In 1941, a New York TV station introduced the first weather personality, a cartoon character named Woolly Lamb.

➻ “I’ve loved weather since I was a kid and saw a tornado when we were in Florida on vacation. And in Plymouth, Michigan, where I grew up, these severe storms would come in, which always interested me.”

➻ Johnson was based in Miami before coming to L.A., where the mild weather has proved deceptive. “You go a few miles and it’s almost a completely different climate, temperature wise and sunshine wise. You’ve got cool and cloudy at the coast, while inland it could be 90 degrees and sunny. It’s actually more work because there are so many different forecasts you have to do.” 

➻ The hottest day ever recorded in downtown Los Angeles was September 27, 2010, when it reached 113 degrees.

➻ In 2003, Johnson was voted the “hottest” meteorologist in a Playboy magazine online poll. The prize? A nude celebrity pictorial. “I said, ‘Thank you, but no.’ My dad would kill me!”