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The Weather Men

(AP Photo/NOAA)
CBS News meteorologist George Cullen can't resist a joke when describing his public profile. "I try to stay under the radar," he says.

Cullen has been working at CBS News since 1980. He has had his hand in just about everything weather-related at CBS, whether it's on "Sunday Morning," "Up To The Minute," "NFL Today," The "Morning News," the "Early Show," or network radio. Cullen works six days a week, from 11:30 at night until 7 or so in the morning, later if there's a major weather event happening, studying weather patterns, writing notes and scripts for on-air personalities, creating graphics, and recording radio spots.

There are a number of computer models out there a meteorologist can look at in trying to make a forecast, and some are better than others for particular areas of the world or weather events. Cullen, an old school kind of guy, limits himself to two. "There's almost too much information out there now," he says. "Sometimes it makes it all a little more confusing." Cullen says he's "kind of isolated himself" – he doesn't like to go to meteorological conferences, and doesn't have "distractions" like the Weather Channel on while he works. He believes that, despite technological innovations, the way weather was handled 10 or 15 years was somewhat better.

"We used to all get maps on paper," he says. "[They were] generated on computers and presented on paper. You could really get into the forecast. Now too many people rely on computers and the Internet. It's not as hands on as it used to be." In terms of accuracy, he says it "depends on the person that's making the forecast," though he says that technology has made long range forecasts far more accurate than they used to be.

Dave Price, the weatherman for the "Early Show," is in many ways the face of CBS News when it comes to weather. And as such, he regularly finds himself talking about the subject with his viewers.

"I have been hugged on the street for good wedding weather – hugged by the bride on more than one occasion," he says. "I have been blamed for little league playoff losses, because someone's son got iced because of a weather delay. I've had people ask if I could make the weather good for their honeymoon in Bermuda, seven months from now. I get asked all the time, 'Dave, I was in a car accident on December 8, 2003 – can you tell me what the conditions were in Butte, Montana, at 7:30?'"

Price gets in around 5 or 6 each morning and meets with Cullen to go over the weather situation for the day and try to figure out what in the national forecast to highlight. He only has 45 seconds to do a national forecast, so that means zeroing in on trouble spots. He says technology has improved mankind's ability to predict the weather accurately, particularly when it comes to providing early warnings for hurricanes or tornados, but stresses that it remains an inexact science. "A perfect example is when a nor'easter comes up the Eastern seaboard," he says. "A 25 mile swing can be the difference between a blizzard and a dusting of snow."

The worst ribbing he gets from viewers, he says, takes place in airports on bad weather days, though it's almost always good natured. "If you want to find me in an airport on a day when there are a lot of delays," he says, laughing, "I'm the only guy wearing big dark sunglasses and a baseball cap."