Growing up in an 11th-floor apartment in the Bronx, Gene Norman always felt close to the sky. It’s no wonder he was captivated by storms at a young age.
“I asked so many questions about the weather, my parents bought me a weather station,” he says. “My fondest memory is my dad hanging out the window, setting up the station and measuring wind speed.” A storm destroyed the station, but Norman wasn’t deterred—he was captivated. “I was just amazed that there was something in the world stronger than my dad,” he says.
Norman parlayed his fascination into a three-decade-long career, including 19 years as a television meteorologist in Houston and Atlanta, where he won six local Emmy Awards and four local Associated Press awards.
As chief meteorologist at a CBS affiliate in Atlanta, Norman reported on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which spawned tornadoes throughout northern Georgia. In the same role in Houston, he covered Hurricane Ike, which was the costliest hurricane in Texas history.
“What meteorologists do and say can have a real impact,” he says. “I’m most proud of the times I’ve been able to provide life-saving information. After Hurricane Ike someone told me, ‘Because of how you explained the storm, I was able to survive it.’”
Norman’s television career began in 1993. While working at NASA in Houston—where he spent eight years in the Space Flight Meteorology Group—he moonlighted as a part-time meteorologist at a station in Beaumont, Texas.
He moved to the Atlanta station in 2000, a break from Texas weather that expanded his reporting horizons. “We joke that Houston has four seasons: July, August, summer, and flooding,” Norman says. “In Georgia, we actually had seasonal weather.” He returned to Houston in 2008 and worked at KHOU-TV until 2012. He now consults on understanding and mitigating weather risk, and he blogs at www.genenormanweather.com.
Norman still maintains close ties to MIT. He is a career advisor and moderated a View from the Top event for the Enterprise Forum of Texas in 2012. “The fundamental training and analytical processes you learn at MIT truly lay the groundwork for what you do later in life,” he says. “That approach has always been something that I can rely upon.”
Norman, who has a master’s degree in meteorology from the University of Maryland, lives outside Houston. He and his wife, Elaine, have four children.