Beyond Blizzards: Boro Park Weather Wizards Convened with a Hometown Weather Legend
Generations of Boro Parkers
have heard the words “meteorologist Craig Allen in the WCBS weather center”
tens of thousands of times over the years as they were tuning in to 880 on the
AM dial to get their traffic-and-weather-together-on-the-8’s.”
What they may not have known is that this weather legend of the New York airways grew up right here in our own backyard, and was actually born in Maimonides Hospital in 1957 to families originating from Russia and Poland, with lots of Yiddish spoken by his grandparents.
As he surpasses his fourth decade of weather reporting for the New York area, he sat down with Boropark24’s weather legend, Yaker Biegeleisen, for an in-depth interview for “Kol Mevaser.”
He recalled growing up in Brighton Beach, where he developed his interest and passion for weather even at the tender age of three (!).
“We used to live in a five-story walkup, and we had a kitchen window facing an alleyway. Isit and watch the water gather in the alleyway after the rains, and I could appraise whether it was a strong rain based on how much water had gathered. When we moved to Canarsie, and we had more windows, I could tell—based on which windows were darker—where a storm was approaching from.”
“At that young age, the storms both scared me and fascinated me,” he recalls. But as he grew older, his fear turned to love. He acquired weather equipment, and began dabbling and experimenting. Simultaneously, he developed a passion for radio… a winning combination—culminating with his hiring by WCBS in 1981, forty years ago.
While the pandemic has normalized working from home, Craig Allen and his weather center have been operated out of his Long Island home for decades—a fact that none of scores of listeners over the decades could never have known.
Allen contrasted the drastic changes to the profession of weather prediction from the time he started, how little data, and how few models were available then—compared to the wealth of models and data that he and his fellow meteorologists have available to them today—enabling them to predict weather patterns with more accuracy.
“Weather forecasting back then was simple… but maybe too simple,” he recalls. “Back then, storms could spring up on you quite suddenly.”
He illustrates this with the story of the “Hurricane of 1938,” commonly known as the “Long Island Express (due to the swift way it wreaked havoc on Long Island),” which very few saw coming—although it was offshore. “The sun was shining in the morning, and by the afternoon there were 50 MPH winds… the category 3 storm made landfall at 4:00, leaving an epic amount of damage in its wake. The same is true in the inverse; we could be expecting a storm, but then it could suddenly turn away from us. These changes don’t make us look good, and some people will never understand that there are an infinite amount of things happening in the atmosphere at every given moment—and we will never be able to forecast with 100% accuracy.”
But our goal is to be a “weather ready nation…. To prevent as many deaths as possible,” he says. “If people want to dismiss us…’well, you’re always wrong anyway,’… all we can do is do our best to give our most accurate forecast in real time.
“Only G-d is perfect. We are only human.”