Weather Channel turns 20

— They delight in watching the kinks in the jet stream. They follow wind-chill readings the way baseball fans keep track of batting averages. They know what "dewpoint" means.

The Weather Channel has made weather junkies out of some TV viewers.

"I can watch it for six to eight hours at a time, easy," says Andre Trotter, a 23-year-old computer engineer from Lexington Park, Md. "There are a trillion different ways things can happen. You can never get bored with the weather."

This month, the weather junkies' 24-hour cable TV fix celebrates 20 years on the air.

Since its first broadcast May 2, 1982 � when a forecaster welcomed viewers to "the non-ending weather telethon" � The Weather Channel has spread to 85 million U.S. homes and earned a place in American pop culture.

Its Web site, among the 20 most popular in America, gets more than 350 million hits a month. From the channel's headquarters near Atlanta, it beams forecasts to cell phones, pagers and handheld computers.

All of which makes obsessive fans of The Weather Channel � people who just aren't satisfied with three minutes on the 6 o'clock news � very happy.

"I guess it's the fact that it's so live, so now," says John Manga, a Michigan chef who watches for hours a day, negotiating with his wife for TV time. "Even at a young age, instead of watching MTV, I started watching The Weather Channel."


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