NORMAN — “A gray, threatening sky failed to dampen the spirits of the brave-of-heart …” rang as true at the homecoming parade in 2013 as it had 80 years ago when the 1933 Sooner Magazine reported on the University of Oklahoma homecoming festivities.
Sooner fans, football royalty and footballers may have gotten a little more rain on Saturday than their predecessors of 80 years ago.
For the parade marshal, gray skies and rain were nothing new, but
meteorologist Gary England has probably spent more time inside looking at radar than outside in a convertible with the top down riding through the rain.
OU President David Boren said England was an easy choice because of the weather forecaster’s relationship with OU’s weather research.
“He was always one of the first people to apply what we had learned,” Boren said.
Neither the university’s top-rated school of meteorology or England’s weather prediction expertise was able to give the Sooners sunny skies on Saturday, however.
“We haven’t yet reached weather modification,” Boren joked.
England grew up in Seiling He attended OU and graduated in 1965.
“Me graduating in ’65 and coming where I come from and ending up as parade marshal proves that miracles still happen,” England said.
The science and technology side of weather prediction has come a long way from those early days. England remembers a 32-foot antenna modified to work with weather prediction.
As technology developed weather prediction became more effective. Doppler radar was a huge breakthrough.
“Radar is radar but the ability to manipulate that signal has been continuously improving early warning,” England said. “We’re so far along now. Improvement in radar has been nothing but phenomenal.”
England’s successful career in television broadcast didn’t start right out of the gate. He wanted to work in TV after he graduated and sent out many applications.