Something about Harry

The passing of Harry Wappler makes me nostalgic for the way Seattle used to do the weather.
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The passing of Harry Wappler makes me nostalgic for the way Seattle used to do the weather.

Sorry to hear of the passing of former KIRO-TV weatherman Harry Wappler who used to be the last word in local weather, especially during KIRO's glory days as a leading news station in town. He was friendly, professional, and not given to the "there's a big storm a brewin'" hysterics so typical of local TV weather reporting. Harry was the calm in the storm, the anti-Jim Foreman, the guy who seemed to remember: It's just rain, people.

I got to work with Harry when I was editor of Washington magazine back in the 1980s. This was the days before Cliff Mass was blogging. We talked Wappler into writing a monthly weather column and pulling together the weather section for out annual Almanac series. Wappler also made a memorable appearance at the magazine's first anniversary in 1985, arriving in the legendary KIRO copter to do the weather live from Chateau Ste. Michelle. My impression was that was about as Hollywood as he got.

My impression was that Wappler was a goody-two-shoes. The station's conservative editorial slant and Mormon ownership added to the impression — so too the fact that Harry was a former minister. His seeming innocence was part of his on-camera appeal. But Harry could tell an adult story off camera, as I learned over lunch at Kirkland's Foghorn restaurant, an appropriately named place for dining with a weatherman I thought. We got to gossiping a bit about Sandy Hill, the former Miss Washington who worked as a newscaster at KIRO and later was co-host of ABC's "Good Morning America." Harry told that one night, he had predicted snow, which hadn't materialized. The next day, Hill, on camera, innocently turned to Wappler and said, "Harry, where was that six inches you promised me last night?" Wappler and the crew dissolved in laughter, and Hill was baffled until she realized how it sounded.

Wappler was a great guy to work with, Washington's reader's loved his column, and I liked that he passed the KIRO weather baton on to his son Andy for some years. There was a time when it just didn't seem like weather without a Wappler telling you what to expect.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.