Barry Burbank forecasts the weather weekdays on WBZ TV 4 in Boston. He can be seen on News 4 This Morning with Suzanne Bates, Scott Wahle and Sean Mooney, and on News 4 New England at Noon with Gary LaPierre. Most recently, Mr. Burbank handled weekend weather forecasts for the station. He joined WBZ 4 in March 1978.
Mr. Burbank began his meteorology career at WCSH-TV in Portland, Maine, as the weather forecaster on the station's evening news. He is a member of the American Meteorological Society and has received its Seal of Approval for Excellence in Television Weathercasting.
Mr. Burbank serves as the treasurer of the Eastern New England Chapter of the National Weather Association and is also a member of the Blue Hill Observatory and the Mount Washington Observatory. Throughout his career Burbank has traveled extensively to schools all over New England speaking to science classes and demonstrating forecasting techniques. He is also actively involved in his local community of Andover, Massachusetts and serves on the board of managers of the Andover YMCA.
Mr. Burbank, a native of Sanford, Maine, graduated from the University of Lowell in Massachusetts. In 1984 he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the university.
SANFORD - Growing up, some kids put pictures of their sports heroes on their bedroom walls and some cover their walls with pictures of their favorite bands. Not Barry Burbank though.
Instead of posters, Barry Burbank's childhood bedroom was a replica of a television news studio.
After a visit to the WBZ news studios in Boston, Barry returned to Sanford and constructed a scale model version of the WBZ studio, complete with moving walls.
"It was pretty decent," says Wayne Burbank, Barry's brother. "It looked like the studio that WBZ had."
Sleeping in a model news set must have rubbed off, because Burbank went on to become a successful television weatherman first in Portland, and then at WBZ.
Barry Burbank's accomplishments in both weather forecasting and television are the reasons why he has been selected as an inaugural member of the Sanford High School Hall of Fame.
Burbank says that while he was growing up, he was "fascinated by the weather and how it changed," and he "wanted a job in the weather field." Though not necessarily on television. "I didn't think I wanted to be a TV weatherman," says Burbank.
It was after visiting WBZ and meeting long-time weather forecaster Don Kent that Burbank became interested in television.
Kent says that he had an "excellent" first impression of Burbank. "Barry is a likable guy," says Kent.
After that meeting with Kent, and touring the WBZ studios, Burbank returned to Sanford and turned his bedroom into a model television studio.
After graduating from SHS in 1968, Burbank went on to the University of Lowell in Massachusetts, where he majored in meteorology.
Burbank says that for someone who, "never went anywhere as a kid," the distance between Sanford and Lowell seemed greater than it actually was. "I thought Lowell was a million miles away," said Burbank.
After earning his degree in 1972, Burbank returned to Sanford.
"I didn't do anything with meteorology for three years," says Burbank. During that time, he worked various jobs, from housepainting in Florida, to landscaping with his brother Wayne. "He was a good worker," says Wayne.
While he wasn't working in the weather field, Burbank didn't lose interest in the weather. "I always complained to the family that they never had a professional weatherman on TV," says Burbank.
It was a situation that Burbank was soon to change.
One year after meeting that station's general manager, Burbank began his meteorology career at WCSH-TV in Portland in January 1976.
While he was at WCSH, Burbank "spent most of his time at the National Weather Service," gathering data for his forecasts, returning to the station for his reports.
"We had no way to gather data, there was only an old teletype that gave the National Weather Service forecasts," says Burbank.
While he was working in Portland, Burbank kept in touch with Kent, who was still working at WBZ.
It was this correspondence which would lead Burbank to a job at WBZ. "Don heard there was a position coming up (at WBZ) and he wanted me to get it," says Burbank.
"Barry certainly was my first choice," Kent says.
In March 1978, Burbank went to WBZ expecting to interview for the weekend weather forecaster position. However, WBZ management offered the position to Burbank without an interview. "I was shocked," says Burbank of the unexpected offer. "They had someone do some checking on me."
Burbank began working weekends at WBZ, commuting from Sanford. He currently is on WBZ's morning and noon news Monday-Friday. He also travels extensively to schools throughout New England speaking to science classes and demonstrating weather forecasting techniques. "He's very involved with the kids," says Kent.
Burbank says that there have been tremendous changes in weather forecasting technology since he began his career. "We are surrounded by computers," says Burbank. "It's come a long way."
"There is a tremendous amount of data to study to come up with a forecast," says Burbank. "Almost too much data to digest and make a forecast."
Another change is that weather forecasters are responsible for creating the computer graphics that accompany their forecasts. "There is more time spent producing dazzling graphics than producing the weather," laments Burbank. "It used to be much simpler because there was less data and you didn't have to create graphics."
Burbank adds that the new technology has its upside also, "They're making it easier to do some kinds of work."
All of the sophisticated forecasting technology aside, Kent says that part of the secret to Burbank's success is what he calls Burbank's "photographic memory" of local weather conditions.
"He is not only educated in the latest technology, he knows enough to look out the window," says Kent.
Besides his television work, Burbank serves as the treasurer of the Eastern New England chapter of the National Weather Association and he is a member of both the Mount Washington Observatory and the Blue Hills Observatory.
Burbank received the Seal of Approval for Excellence in Television Broadcasting from the American Meteorological Society. He also received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Lowell in 1984.
"Barry is well respected," says Kent. "He can hold his own with anyone on TV. I'd rate him among the tops in the business."
While the weather in New England might be fickle, Kent's feelings for Burbank certainly are not. He calls his longtime friend, "A wonderful, wonderful guy, and he is a great weather guy."
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© 2004 Sanford High School