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How an Oklahoma weatherman became larger than the tornadoes he tracked

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KWTV Gary England
KWTV Gary England

Oklahoma's no stranger to tornadoes. And for over forty years, Gary England has served as chief meteorologist for Oklahoma City's local CBS affiliate, KWTV. The position is an incredibly important one out in "Tornado Alley," where the apocalyptic weather events are most frequent thanks to the mixing of warm and moist air from the Gulf of Mexico, hot and dry air from the west, and the jet stream. Sam Anderson for The New York Times Magazine has published a fantastic profile of the meteorologist, who'll be retiring from his position at the end of the month after an iconic career that's seen him guide residents through "roughly 2,000" tornadoes over the years.

The Channel 9 Weather Center is his home, and during some of the worst storms he can spend up to twelve hours straight on camera tracking the systems. The profile paints England — a 73-year-old who weathers the storms from inside the Oklahoma City-based studio — as a master of tornadoes. He remains calm when the automated warnings and computer systems pick up troublesome weather patterns, only to spring into action when the danger is real. And he's far from a TV personality: his tornado tracking made him a legend in the state, with residents of one town painting words like “God Bless Gary England” on their destroyed homes after returning from evacuation shelters during the worst storm in history, recorded in 1999. England explains that tornadoes, which remain largely mysterious, are "kind of like a human... They’re born, and they grow and they grow. And when they reach a mature size and they run out of conditions... they’ll start to die. And they go away." Be sure to read the entire in-depth profile over at The New York Times Magazine.