The Weather Babe

I enjoy watching Jackie Johnson read the weather on Channels 2 and 9, and so do many, many other people. But judging by the predictably salacious comments she garners among Internet losers, my brand of appreciation may not be standard. (Shocker!: There’s an entire Web site dedicated to rating the hotness of L.A. TV newswomen.) For one thing, I actually think she’s good at talking about the weather.

Johnson, originally from Michigan, came to L.A. two years ago from Florida, where she had become a minor celebrity thanks to her weather reading (and one local talk-radio host’s obsession with her). L.A. was an expected step up for Johnson, careerwise, though no doubt a step down, weatherwise. Johnson’s self-proclaimed fascination with weather (and perhaps a bit of Florida-homesickness?) shone during hurricane season: Johnson was our girl-on-the-spot, tracking Katrina and the others with unflagging enthusiasm and a kinetic grasp of the immediacy, power and realness of weather happening thousands of miles away. An L.A. native just wouldn’t have been the same.

It doesn’t even matter to me whether she’s a real meteorologist. She reads the weather as if she invented it, with the most fantastically old-school hand gestures and body movements — her interplay with the green screen is so measured, calm and slightly stiff, at times it’s almost like kabuki. Some say they are hypnotized by her sweater sets; I’m hypnotized by the aura of calm she conjures. It’s so un-L.A., and so different from Jillian Barbiere or that lady on UPN.

Yes, L.A. is the land of classic, iconic weathermen (Johnny Mountain, Dallas Raines, et al.), but Johnson is old-fashioned too, in her own, quiet way. In her hands, the weather seems manageable, reasonable, predictable, something to savor. Everything’s gonna be okay, she seems to say.

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